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Does Your Dog Have the Potential to Be a Superhero? If Given the Opportunity?

I believe my GhostBuster would leap tall buildings -- or couches, anyway -- to save a life. Is your dog also a superhero in waiting?

Heather Marcoux  |  Mar 29th 2017


If you spend any time on social media, you know that stories about heroic mutts travel faster than a speeding Bulldog. Humans love tales of regular dogs who leap into action to save the day, and in this interconnected age, these canine crusaders don’t just make the local news — they go global. The latest superpooch to go viral is Peanut, the little dog from Michigan who saved a naked toddler from freezing to death in a ditch. A rescue dog who became the rescuer, Peanut inspired a ton of aggregated news stories and got me wondering if one of my own dogs is a canine Clark Kent, just waiting for the right moment to reveal his superpowers.

Peanut, the former shelter dog who saved a toddler. (Photo courtesy Delta Animal Shelter)

Like Peanut, my own dogs — GhostBuster and Marshmallow — did time in shelters, but thankfully the similarities end there. Peanut’s past isn’t something I would wish for any dog. She ended up at the Delta Animal Shelter a year ago, and the folks there tell me she was severely abused before she arrived. With two broken legs, broken ribs and a gut full of carpet, poor Peanut was the subject of an animal abuse case in Delta County, but got a fresh start when a new family adopted her.

When I heard how Peanut acted on March 17 — freaking out in the house until her human took her outside, then running straight into a nearby field to find the toddler — I wondered if her sensitive canine ears heard the little girl’s cries, or if she felt something akin to Peter Parker’s tingling spidey sense. My GoldenLab mix, GhostBuster, definitely has a special intuitive ability to know when something weird is going on.

My GhostBuster has serious superhero potential. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

I’ll never forget the first time I heard him bark. It was close to midnight, and my husband, GhostBuster and I were sleeping in master bedroom of the home we’d bought just four months earlier. My husband and I were startled from sleep by deep barks we’d never heard before.

The vocalization was a big surprise — we’d only had GhostBuster for a few weeks, and he hadn’t spoken yet. When we went out in the living room, we saw what GhostBuster was alerting us to: Two police officers were shining flashlights into our front window. Apparently the family who’d owned our home before us also had a teenage boy who was in a lot of trouble.

Years later, the night I went into labor with my own little boy, GhostBuster knew before anyone else. I was busy on my computer, just working through my contractions because I’d had a lot of the fake ones. It was late at night, but GhostBuster refused to go lie down. He was anxious and hovering around me. He practically herded me down the hall to wake up my husband when things got serious.

And that wasn’t the first time GhostBuster came to my aid during my pregnancy. A couple months earlier, I’d been trying to get out of bed when my big belly threw me off balance. I caught myself, but was then positioned in such a way that I couldn’t move or I would fall right on my stomach. I called for my husband, but he couldn’t hear me. Instead, GhostBuster came. He trotted into the bedroom and over to my side of the bed, crouching down so that he was under me. I put a hand on his back and he stood up, bracing me while I climbed back onto the bed.

All these incidents had me thinking that GhostBuster had some serious superhero potential. That is, until a relaxing evening was interrupted by a bang so loud I instinctively hit the floor, convinced someone in my suburban neighborhood was shooting. When I got to my feet I looked over at my dogs. They’d both slept right through the supposed gunshot.

It takes a lot to wake Marshmallow and GhostBuster, seen here with my equally lazy cats. (Photo by Heather Marcoux)

Perhaps my furry superhero was sleeping on the job, or perhaps GhostBuster and his terrier sidekick, Mashmallow, simply knew what I didn’t. My house had been hit by a bicycle, not a bullet. A dude had stuffed a bunch of meat down his shirt at the corner grocery and was trying to peddle away from a police pursuit when he hit my house. Apparently shoplifting just isn’t enough to engage GhostBuster’s superpowers.

Still, I do believe they’re in there, because whenever I wake from a nightmare I instantly look for GhostBuster. He might not have Peanut’s super hearing — and he’ll probably never go viral — but his presence is enough to comfort me after too much Investigation Discovery, and that makes him superhero in his own way.