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Hero Pet Of The Year

The honor goes to.....Chi Chi, the temperamental Chihuahua. Chi Chi is the winner of the Reader's Digest Hero Pet of the Year award for helping...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Aug 19th 2009


The honor goes to…..Chi Chi, the temperamental Chihuahua. Chi Chi is the winner of the Reader’s Digest Hero Pet of the Year award for helping save two ladies from drowning.

I watched this story on the Today Show and I noticed none of the hosts were standing close to Chi Chi while they did the interview. Apparently Chi Chi is a little protective and no one wanted to take any chances. I’m sure the fact that he bared his teeth at the hosts probably didn’t help.

Here’s the story from Today at msnbc.com.

By sounding a yipping alarm on a North Carolina beach, Chi Chi likely saved the lives of two senior citizens overcome by waves – and was crowned Reader’s Digest Hero Pet of the Year in the process.

Chi Chi appeared humble – if a bit standoffish – in his national TV debut Tuesday, appearing on Rockefeller Plaza as his owners, Rick and Mary Lane, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer and Ann Curry how their pint-size prize rose to the occasion in a big way when danger loomed.

Mary Lane said it was a typical day at the beach for the family last October. She and Rick were relaxing on beach chairs at Indian Beach on North Carolina’s Outer Banks while Chi Chi rested on his own chair – restrained, of course, since he tends to chase after other beachgoers.

“He leapt out of his beach chair, still attached, dragging the beach chair, and he started sending out an alarm,” Lane told TODAY. “He was making a sound we never heard before. Rick said, Hey, what’s the matter with the dog?’ “

It turned out nothing was the matter with Chi Chi – but there was danger some 100 yards down the beach, where Mary Lane spotted a horrific sight.

“There was a storm surge, and there were two elderly ladies – one had fallen on her back headfirst into the surf,” she said. “The other lady – a little bitty lady about 90 pounds – was trying to hold her head up, and she was in danger of being washed out.”

The Lanes rushed to pull the ladies out of the riptide, and after determining the pair were shaken but otherwise fine, returned to their spot on the beach – to find Chi Chi happily sleeping in doggy dreamworld in his chair.

The Lanes were amazed that their pampered pet could sound an alarm of danger, bellowing out strange yips that “would not let us ignore him,” Mary Lane said. And readers of Reader’s Digest were so impressed by Chi Chi’s story they voted him Hero Pet of the Year.

Chi Chi can perhaps be forgiven his temperament in light of his early life: He was rescued as an abused dog by the Lanes’ niece when he was just a pup. Now he’s a local celebrity in the Lanes’ native Greensboro, with newspaper coverage and his gray-white mug posted in his veterinarian’s office. “Everyone recognizes him,” Mary Lane said with pride.

What a great story, way to go Chi Chi.

* Pic courtesy Today