In a world where animals are abused and abandoned with alarming frequency, stories of humans and dogs who make our world better are a much-needed foil to the disheartening headlines. I love reading (and writing) about the dogs and dog lovers who make a difference — we call them Dogster Heroes.
A Dogster Hero can be a person, a pet, or a group whose actions are helping others, and there were many stories that fit that bill over the last year. It was hard to choose just a few to highlight here, but I finally have my list.
Here are my five favorite Dogster Heroes of 2014.
1. Dr. Sophia Yin
The death of Dr. Sophia Yin was one of the saddest news stories to hit the dog world in 2014. Although she passed away in September, her website, videos, ebooks, and training manuals are still helping new dog owners around the world become the best pet parents they can be. Her legacy will live on in the advice that she so generously gave to better the lives of so many dogs. One Dogster commenter put it perfectly when she wrote, “Sophia may be gone, but her influence will live on.” Dr. Yin’s passion and commitment to animals makes her one of the greatest Dogster Heroes of all time.
2. Louise Coleman of Greyhound Friends
After a decades-long love affair with retired racers, Louise Coleman, founder of Massachusetts-based Greyhound Friends, has expanded her rescue operation to help other kinds of unwanted Hounds. As Greyhound racing dwindles stateside, Coleman’s rescue is now full of lurchers, Beagles, and mixed-breed hunting dogs. Although she has love in her heart for these other hounds, Coleman will never stop advocating for the Greyhound and is currently lending a hand to help racers in Ireland and Argentina.
3. Lisa the Terrier rescued from the dog meat trade
Every time I read this one, I choke up a bit. The story of Lisa, the little terrier rescued from the dog meat trade in Indonesia, has a horrible start but a happy ending. It begins at an orphanage, where Lisa was one of several dogs being raised in cages. If it weren’t for the actions of an orphanage volunteer, Lisa and her puppies may have ended up on a child’s dinner plate. Thankfully, all are now living the life these dogs deserve — that of a cherished pet.
4. Pumpkin the therapy dog
This Golden Retriever is the perfect ambassador for therapy dogs everywhere. The adorable and well-trained Floridian works full-time in health care (as does his sister), bringing smiles to hospital patients who need a shot of happiness during a stressful time. I hope that if I ever have to spend time in a hospital, I will have an animal visitor like Pumpkin to restore my spirits. Pumpkin and his fellow therapy dogs are proving something that many dog lovers have long suspected — experiencing a bond with an animal really can make a person feel better.
5. Henry the tripod
I’ve gotta have a fellow Canadian on this list, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the first Dogster Hero I ever wrote about — Henry, the amputee from Northern Saskatchewan. This former stray hails from the village of La Loche, where he lived on the streets until his soon-to-be human, Michelle Morrison, paid a visit to the community and brought him indoors. Despite losing his leg while still adapting to indoor life, Henry is very happy and healthy these days. This hero pup is showing the world that tripods can do anything and that no dog is beyond saving.
Did I miss your favorite Dogster Hero of 2014? Let’s look back at this last year together. Tell us about your favorite Dogster Hero in the comments (and links and pictures are welcome)!
About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.