Hats off to Winston, Carrots, and more!
blind, orange tabby cat laying in the grass
Credit: Courtesy of Bradford Cat Watch Rescue and Kittens

Dogs and cats can "save" us in plenty of ways. They can buoy our mental health; make us smile; and help fulfill our therapy and service needs. Sometimes the saving is more literal, like when a Great Dane saves his entire family from a house fire. 

This year at Daily Paws, we've had the pleasure of writing about many pets who, we think, are pretty heroic. These dogs and cats have saved their friends and families from literal danger, while others have helped us get through the year with a lighter touch. Without further ado, here are some—just some, not all!—of our favorites.  

(And don't worry, we've written about human pet heroes, too. They rescue cats from towering trees, ensure cats have a warm place to sleep at night, and take in dogs no one else wants.) 

Ralph the Great Dane Saves Family from Fire

This 4-year-old Great Dane woke his owners up on a September morning with some rare early morning barks. His owner, Derek Walker, rose from his bed in his central Alabama home around 2:30 a.m. and saw flames outside his window. 

"[Ralph] was in his kennel inside the house and we heard him barking,'' Walker said. "He usually doesn't make a sound at night. And it was a different kind of bark."  

Thanks to Ralph's warning, Walker roused his wife and two kids and they were all able to get outside before the flames consumed most of their possessions. 

Dachshund Fends Off Mountain Lion

When best buds Winston, a dachshund, and Mijo, a Chihuahua-dachshund mix, went outside in November, they didn't know the terrifying episode that was about to unfold

A mountain lion sprang into the Colorado yard and clenched Mijo in its jaws. Little Winston unleashed some barks and ran at the big cat, who thankfully dropped Mijo and scampered off. 

Mijo lost an eye, but he did survive—thanks to his pal Winston. 

"[A] 20-pound dog with the courage of a 200-pound dog," Mijo's owner Lindsay Golden said.  

Blind Therapy Cat Helps Hospice Patients

Carrots, a blind fluffy boy, received this year an annual award for his work with residents at Marie Curie Hospice in England. He's the only blind therapy cat in the United Kingdom. 

The white-and-orange cat is the 80th recipient of the Blue Cross Medal, recognizing a pet "who has done something amazing to change or even save a life in a big or small way."

At the hospice, Carrots, 4, often steps up for patients who are feeling anxious, depressed, or especially ill. 

"He has been there for everyone at the Marie Curie Hospice in their hour of need and is special to so many people. He loves visiting patients and settles beside them so that they can stroke him and listen to him purr," says his owner, Katie Lloyd. 

Henry Wee Wheels Helps Kids Cope

Like Carrots, Henry Wee Wheels (so named for the training wheel apparatus that allows him to overcome his immobile rear legs) had an important job this fall: helping schoolchildren make it through the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was both a welcome distraction—aka a cute little dog to pet during break times—and an emotional-support dog for kids who'd had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. They would even tell him things they might not confide to an adult or parent. 

"The children see Henry as a trusted friend, as a confidant," Principal Colin Ford said. 

Plus, look at him go! 

Sheperd Mix Adopts Kittens

Whether pandemic times or not, we can all agree moms are heroes. The same goes for adoptive dog moms. 

Sunshine Dog Rescue rescued shepherd mix Georgia from Mexico over the summer. She was pregnant but gave birth too early, and none of the puppies survived. Georgia was understandably distraught, becoming even frantic.  

The shelter then took in three new kittens who had lost their mom. It was a perfect match. The cats snuggled up to Georgia and she even nursed them, too. They all had families soon waiting to adopt them. 

We started by framing Georgia as the hero—and she's a deserving holder of that title—but the little kittens might done a bit of saving themselves.