Hero Pet of the Year  

Posted by — Kim in , , , , , , , ,

Here's a wonderful story that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it inspiring! –Kim

ChiChi the Chihuahua-Mix Named Hero Pet of the Year
by Helena Sung
Aug 24, 2009

As a puppy, ChiChi was rescued from abusive owners. Years later, at the ripe old age of 13, the Chihuahua-mix returned the favor by saving the lives of two elderly women in danger of drowning at a beach. This month, ChiChi was voted Reader's Digest Hero Pet of the Year.

Before he became a hero, ChiChi had been living with cruel owners who thought it entertaining to beat, kick and throw the little dog out of a moving car. Mary and Rick Lane's niece Heather saved the pup and soon moved in with her aunt and uncle in Greensboro, North Carolina, while attending a nearby college. Aunt Mary wasn't looking to bring a dog into her home, but when ChiChi came into the picture, something all too common happened.

"I fell head over heels in love with him," Mary told Paw Nation. "He's so smart and expressive," she said. "His ears perk up and do one of about 50 different things. He has so many ways of telling me what he wants to do, exactly how he wants to do it, and when he wants to do it." She fell so hard for the guy that when Heather eventually moved out, her niece graciously allowed ChiChi to stay with the Lanes.

And now, Mary and Rick have even more reason to love little ChiChi: he is a literal lifesaver.

Last October, Mary, Rick and ChiChi were enjoying a day at Indian Beach on North Carolina's Outer Banks. The Lanes set up a blanket and umbrella for their dog, tying his leash to the beach chair they brought for him because, "He doesn't like to lie on the sand," explains Mary. The three sat in a row on their beach chairs, the Lanes reading and ChiChi dozing.

It was late morning when the Lanes heard a little boy in the water shouting, "Help! Help!" Alarmed, the Lanes looked up, but the boy was only joking. The boy played this frightening trick several more times, and each time, the Lanes looked up worriedly. But ChiChi didn't stir.

As the day turned to dusk, the beach emptied. Deeply engrossed in their books, they didn't notice two women in the water.

Suddenly, ChiChi leapt out of his chair and started barking furiously. "He was whirling in circles, dragging the chair behind him and making a sound we'd never heard before," Mary recalls to Paw Nation. "It was very sharp, loud and fast. He seemed panicked and was almost twirling on his leash."

Startled, Mary looked up. "A hundred yards down the beach, in the surf, I could see two women," she says. "They were struggling. One was on her back with her head in the surf, and the other woman was trying to support her head."

Rick and Mary took off running down the beach. "We're coming! Hold on," they screamed.

"When we got there, the one woman was about ten feet in the surf on her back," Mary says. "There had been such a terrific storm that weekend and the night before that the waves were really loud. There was a three-foot wall of sand then the beach sloped down."

The women appeared to be in their nineties. Mary grabbed the frail-looking woman who was desperately trying to keep her friend's head above water and helped her to shore. Rick went to the woman struggling on her back and dragged her up. She was disoriented and said she had fallen in the water when she lost her balance bending over to roll up her pants.

"Thank you for rescuing us," the woman gasped, explaining that she had just had knee surgery and would not have been able to right herself and crawl up the sloping wall of sand to shore.

"It wasn't us, it was the dog," Mary replied. "He's the one who told us you were in trouble." Had ChiChi not alerted them, the women would likely have washed out to sea. "There was a riptide," Mary says. "And as far as you could see in either direction, there wasn't one human being on the whole beach."

Mary cannot explain how ChiChi knew something was wrong – remember, the pup didn't look up earlier in the day when the little boy cried wolf – but he sounded an alarm when the two elderly women, who hadn't made a sound, were struggling in the surf.

"I think ChiChi has some sort of sense that we don't have. It's the only answer," says Mary. "In all the pet stories I've ever read, the animals were always saving someone they know, like their family or friend. ChiChi wasn't. He was saving strangers. I didn't know I had a dog who could do such a thing."

ChiChi meanwhile, had jumped back onto his beach chair and fallen asleep during the dramatic rescue. When the elderly women tried to pet him, he growled. "He's a funny little dog," says Mary, laughing. "He'll save your life, but you can't pet him."

Source: http://www.pawnation.com/2009/08/24/chichi-the-chihuahua-mix-named-hero-pet-of-the-year/
© 2009 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.

Also, see: And the Reader's Digest Hero Pet of the Year Is...

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at Tuesday, September 08, 2009 and is filed under , , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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