Most dog lovers and owners would agree that, for dogs at least, the saying ‘not all heroes wear capes’ is definitely true.
From positively affecting our wellbeing and mental health to performing incredible acts of loyalty and bravery like protecting their pet parents from a knife attack or 4am fire risk, our four-legged friends
In celebration of all these heroic dogs, our sister site for pet lovers is running its first Hero Dogs Week, supported by Everypaw Pet Insurance.
All week long, until Sunday, November 14, TeamDogs is calling on dog-loving members of the UK to share their best tales of love, courage and devotion, as well as spotlighting some of their favorite four-legged superheroes.
Here are eight brilliant dogs who are everyday heroes, from therapy dogs and assistance animals to life-changing pets and wonderful companions.
Therapy Schnoodle Bow
Six-year-old Schnauzer Poodle cross (or ‘Schnoodle’) Bow, is a doggy volunteer for Pets as Therapy, a national charity that connects registered therapy dogs with individuals in communities, such as the elderly, to enhance health and wellbeing.
This gorgeous curly-haired girl is a much-loved addition to Camelot House and Lodge, a care home in Wellington, Somerset, where she visits every fortnight with her human Bev.
The lovely lady has been visiting Camelot since June 2018, where her routine of sitting on laps and placing her paws at the sides’ of residents’ knees to make it easier for them to stroke her brings manifold smiles.
Activities coordinator Richard Dempslake previously told TeamDogs : “Bow is such a lovely gentle little dog and the residents really love her.”
Surfing therapy Poodle Scooter
Poodle cross Scooter is a therapy dog a very unique job.
The ex-street dog from Portugal, who has a bright blue mohawk, is the UK’s very first surfing therapy pup.
He teaches surf therapy sessions at Bracklesham Bay, near Chichester, West Sussex, alongside doggy mum Kirstie Martin, a full-time police officer who runs her surfing school as a not-for-profit.
Although the poor boy wasn’t shown much kindness by humans at the start of his own life, having been ‘chucked out on the street as a puppy’, he has no problem showing love back to people in need.
This includes free-of-charge fortnightly saltwater therapy sessions called ‘Fluro Friday’, run with charity One Wave is All It Takes, where participants come in fluorescent clothing and learn more about mental health issues.
Kirstie explained to TeamDogs: “We do mindful exercises and go in the water with paddleboards.
“Then we do some yoga poses, breathing exercises and stretching, then the local café gives a free hot drink.
“Scoot is on hand to make people smile and give people hugs.”
The relaxed and affectionate dog is also a therapy animal with Pets as Therapy, as well as part-way through training to become Kirstie’s full-time assistance dog for PTSD.
She added: “He’s just amazing and has a sixth sense when we visit our local hospital – he seeks out the most poorly patients or the ones who are most sad and missing their animals.
“He’s laid with end-of-life patients before who haven’t got any visitors or any family.”
Follow Scooter’s heroic adventures on Instagram, at @scooter_surf_therapy_dog.
Autism assistance dog Bear
Gorgeous rescue dog Bear is currently being trained by Support Dogs as an autism assistance dog, having passed his initial four-week trial with flying colors.
First brought into Dogs Trust Manchester when his family’s situation changed, the lovely caramel-coloured hero will soon be helping his new human handler to gain a sense of independence, confidence and companionship.
TeamDogs previously spoke to Danielle Kennedy, dog recruitment and assessor for Support Dogs.
She said: “Children with autism often don’t want to go out at all, but with an assistance dog by their side they feel much more confident.
“Going to a local park or on a day trip with their family becomes possible. They can expand their world in ways that just wouldn’t be possible without a dog like Bear.
“An assistance dog also helps keep a child safe. A child with autism has little sense of danger and may tend to run or wander off from their caregivers.
Bear is also being trained to help reduce emotional outbursts by giving ‘full body rests’, which are able to reassure children in an upsetting situation and help calm them down.
Children’s hospital therapy and dog Leo and friends
Therapy dogs can be an enormous help in hospitals, especially for children who might be feeling stressed, scared or confused by the experience.
Lovely Leo, one of the stars of the recent book ‘Leo & Friends: the Extraordinary Dogs with a Healing Touch’, is part of a group of heroic golden retrievers who help young people at Southampton Children’s Hospital.
As part of the Animal Assisted Intervention service, which was founded by Leo’s mum, Lyndsey Uglow, patients can sit with the special dogs, or get escorted to the anesthetic rooms or physiotherapy by them.
Leo and his furry pack have also been known to support the kids during some of their treatments.
In fact, together with his four-legged teammates, lovable superhero Leo has helped more than 10,000 patients.
This includes 15-year-old Emily White, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and receives frequent surgery at Southampton Children’s Hospital.
Emily’s mother, Aimee White, told TeamDogs: “Before, when Emily was having an operation, it was 10 times harder for her because of the panic and the anxiety.
“But the dogs really help take her mind off what’s going on and now she goes into an operation calmly, and wakes up calmly.
“It really makes a difference.”
Read more about lovely Leo and his incredible work in owner Lyndsey’s book, ‘Leo & Friends: the Extraordinary Dogs with a Healing Touch’, published this August.
German Shepherd Indie
Hero dog Indie not only helped her owner from slipping back into a pit of depression, but also inspired her to start up a brilliant dog-centric business.
Pet parent Ali Smith, originally from Basildon, Essex, got the gorgeous German Shepherd cross after struggling with her mental health at a job she found unfulfilling and later became redundant from.
When the pandemic arrived, she expected to feel even more isolated – but luckily, with Indie by her side, this wasn’t the case.
Speaking to TeamDogs, she said: “I actually felt completely lifted out of my depressed state so when Covid hit, I dealt with it much better than a lot of my peers and that’s largely because of Indie.
“He gave me that element of routine, something to come home to, and loved me unconditionally.
“After redundancy, I wanted to find a job that I loved, then one day I looked at my dog and I thought ‘I love you’. I wanted to work with dogs!”
Ali’s dog training business, Rebarkable, was born as a result.
Police and community therapy dog Chance
This gorgeous yellow boy, Chance the golden retriever, is an emotional support animal to police officers and the general public in Elgin, Illinois, in the US.
A representative for the police department told TeamDogs: “If there’s ever any traumatic incident, he would respond to the location.
“Chance’s job is to use his experience and training to comfort someone after an incident, whether that means cuddling or playing.”
The friendly boy was even sworn in to his job, just like an officer.
Keep up with him on his professional Instagram account, @epdchance.
Fire rescue and service ‘diffusion’ dog Digby
Three-year-old Australian Labradoodle Digby has a very special role supporting the team at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service as a diffusion dog.
His main job involves assisting crews who have returned from a traumatic incident by joining in therapy ‘diffusing’ sessions, helping them to open up about what happened and how they feel about it.
However, the chocolate brown superhero also helps out members of the public who need it.
He headlines this June when he was credited with saving the life of a young woman considering suicide at a motorway bridge.
A post shared to Twitter explained: “When Digby arrived, the young woman immediately swung her head round to look, and smiled.
“This got a conversation started about Digby and his role at the fire service.
“She was asked if she would like to come and meet Digby if she came back over the railings, which we are pleased to say she did.”
The incredible boy works alongside his handler, operational license and training delivery manager, Matt Goodman.
golden retriever bungle
It’s not just dogs with specialist jobs that are heroes to TeamDogs – our pets can dramatically improve our day-to-day lives and mental health too.
In fact, TeamDogs user and writer Charlotte Regen credits her gorgeous dog with saving her from lockdown loneliness.
She explained: “Due to lockdown restrictions I had to work from home, whereas my partner still had some normality of going out every day to work.”
Struggling with being left alone for up to 10 hours a day, she eventually ‘broke down’ to her partner.
However, golden retriever puppy Bungle was added to her life soon after and things quickly began to look up.
Charlotte wrote: “I used to get up at the very last minute before work but now every morning I’m out over the park or in the woods with my boy.
“Which has huge benefits for us both, he’s got to socialize and meet other dogs and I’ve made new friends too in the process.
“I have unlimited cuddles and fussums (as I call them) throughout the day which is just amazing and always puts a smile on my face.
“But do you know what the most incredible thing about dogs is? It’s just how much they are in tune with your emotions.
She added: “I recently went through a really upsetting time and I remember just slumping onto my kitchen floor with tears streaming down my face.
“I had my partner there to comfort me but my dog came bundling over with his waggly tail and plonked his fluffy bum onto my lap and gave me a cuddle and stayed with me until I had calmed down.
“It really is a true blessing to have that love and loyalty in life.”
Got a story to share? Head to the Pics of dogs page on TeamDogs to post your photos of your heroic furry friend, along with a few lines on what makes them an everyday superhero to you.
More information here.