Do you have a pet who is your hero?

A girl's best friend isn’t a diamond. It’s a dog.

If you needed just one more reason (than the 20 others) to hug your dog, just consider that your dog, in their life has probably saved yours at least once.

In all my adult years, I’ve had a dog. My sister on the other hand has not. And a few weeks ago someone tried to break into her house at 2 in the morning (while she was home). This isn’t the first time - it’s more like the 5th or 6th over the past 15 years, not to mention the countless pieces of clothes she’s had stolen from her clothes line. I was thinking about why this has never happened to me and always put it down to my ability to choose great houses in safe neighbourhoods (and always said Sydney must be safer than Melbourne. Haha). But no. The truth is, It’s 100% my dog Ben.

Benny is my 15 year old golden retriever whom I’ve had since he was just a wee pup. He is possibly the worst guard dog in the history of guard dogs and would let an intruder in. BUT he does bark. And when he’s heard something or there’s even a hint that things aren’t right in the world, he barks and growls and carries on like a pork chop at things out there that I am yet to see or hear. Like most goldies and labs, his bark is BIG and behind a closed door or fence, that bark could be a Rottweiler - you just can’t tell. So, while he’s really no match for someone that actually entered my home (with a treat), he’s a pretty decent deterrent. I mean, it’s just easier for someone to break into next door's no dog house right? Or even further, choose an assault victim who doesn’t have a large dog by her side.

No unauthorized cats, possums or people in Benny’s zone. And it’s funny- especially how he can differentiate in one second between rogue cats from beyond and cats that do belong here that are granted entry without even a peep from him. But in all seriousness, I am sure on more than one occasion he’s probably saved my life, my home, my clothes line as well as kept me safe (without me having to illegally acquire pepper spray). A girl's best friend isn’t a diamond, it’s a dog.

Last week my best friend called me from Melbourne. She answers the phone exasperated, “I almost died this morning babe!”. "Ok, ok, calm down".

She goes on to tell me that her COUCH caught on fire while she was sleeping. Caused by the sun hitting a little makeup mirror left on the couch. Like c’mon - you can’t make this stuff up! But, it was all thanks to her groodle, Ralph, who saved the day and the lives of an entire family.

Ralph, of course, smelt smoke before anyone else and went and barked and barked and carried on until she got up to have a look. She then smelt the smoke and ran downstairs to find her entire couch on FIRE!

She managed to get a blanket and with the help of others save her home and her family from being torched. So what happens next? Couch is ruined obviously, everyone recovers from the shock and life moves on. But hang on! What about Ralph, the goofy groodle that SAVED an entire family. Not only is there no bravery medal, but in Australia, he’s barely allowed to enter a rental property. And as a society, unfairly, the lives, wellbeing and contribution of our dogs is given very little value. I guess at least he got a roast for dinner.

This isn’t an isolated story. Nearly every dog owning person I meet has at least one story of canine heroism. Whether it be saving them from depression, anxiety, loneliness, nursing them through cancer not to mention the physical acts of guardianship like Benny and Ralph.

Is there anything that dogs can’t do? Yes, clean up their own poop. But, I reckon they save our lives multiple times in their short lives, and many times we may not even know it. And really, they don’t get the societal credit for the contribution they make. We humans owe them a lot. At the very least, we owe it to them to give them good, decent lives. At the heart of it, that’s why I’m still a proud vet in a room full of human doctors and continue to believe that I just might have the best job in the world. It’s my small way of saying thanks dogs, we love you.

Love, Dr Kate

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