Women’s History Month isn’t just for human women! Let’s not forget all the incredible things that canine women have done through the years, from military work to rescue work to therapy work and so on.
Below, you’ll find 17 amazing lady dogs who have – demonstrably – made the world a better place:
On January 21, 2003 Jude Stringfellow’s son rescued a 3-week-old puppy from a junkyard and brought her home. The pup was tiny, weak and had been born with only 3 limbs. Her back legs were normal, but she was missing the right front, and the left front was badly deformed. When she was 7 months old, her deformed limb was amputated.
Despite doubt and recommendations of euthanasia from the veterinary community, Faith learned to walk upright on two limbs. Videos of Faith walking tall took the nation by storm. Faith used her fame to inspire dogs and hoomans with disabilities to keep fighting right up until she passed away on September 23, 2014 in the loving arms of her mother. Her spirit continues to inspire.
smithsonian.com tells the tale of the twelve canines aboard the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage. Sadly, only three survived the disaster. All three had one thing in common – they were pocket pooches. Two Pomeranians and one Pekingese were carried onto life boats in their owners’ arms.
Lady was wrapped in a blanket and cradled by owner, Margaret Hays. Hays is rumored to have said that passengers in the life boat assumed she was carrying a baby and didn’t kick up a fuss. Sometimes it pays to be pretty and petite!
3. Stewie the Cancer Detection Dog
Stewie and friends at the innovative In Situ Foundation in California are sniffing out Cancer in an effort to make the disease a thing of the past. Long time dog trainer and handler Dina Zaphiris has used volunteer dogs from the community and her own pups to participate in two federally funded studies already. She is currently training two puppies to participate in a massive study with UC Davis.
The canines involved are purely play motivated- their reward is a tossed ball. No known laboratory equipment has yet been created that can detect Cancer cells in the trace amounts capable by the canine nose. Stewie and friends can sense Cancer in amounts equivalent to one drop in three Olympic sized swimming pools allowing for extremely early detection and treatment.
Laika, meaning “Bark” in Russian, was the first dog in space. She was launched on Sputnik II on November 3, 1957 amidst the “Race to Space” between the Soviet Union and the United States. Motherboard.vice.com explored the darker side of Laika’s famous mission.
Finally exposing fifty-seven years later that the Soviet Union had lied about the circumstances surrounding the pooch’s death. Although her mission was tragic, Laika remains an icon as the first dog to boldly go where no dog had gone before.
The New York Post featured Judy last May as “World War II’s only canine POW.” In August of 1941, Frank Williams, a British officer, noticed a dog wandering around the Japanese prison camp where he was being held. His soul ached for the pitiful Pointer facing starvation just as he was. He began to share his rations with Judy and she became his constant companion.
Judy and Frank would survive the prison camp, deplorable conditions on a Japanese transport ship, that ship’s bombing and the subsequent risk of drowning, and finally their recovery in a POW hospital.
Judy’s story made her a national heroine. The press called her “The Precious Pointer” and “Gunboat Judy.” On May 3, 1946 a ceremony was held to honor Judy in London’s Cadogan Square. Frank and Judy quietly returned to Frank’s home in Portsmouth, where they lived out their days together in peace.
In 1944, an American Soldier named Bill Wynne found a tiny four-pound Yorkshire Terrier in a Papua New Guinea jungle and smuggled her back onto his military base. Nearly 70 years later, Wynne remembered Smoky fondly to AKC magazine, saying, “She was five hundred pounds of dog in a four-pound body.”
During her military service in WWII, Smoky guarded troops, flew on combat missions, participated in spirit films for the troops, visited the wounded and generally boosted morale. Three statues currently stand in honor of the littlest soldier’s service to her country.
From the moment she was born on March 12, 1998, Roselle was a dog with a purpose. She came into this world at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA and began her training as a pup. Roselle went home with Michael Hingson in 1999 and became his faithful guide.
On September 11th, 2001, Michael and Roselle were spending an average day at work on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. Roselle remained calm, guiding Michael down the 1463 smoky stairs between them and safety. Once on the street, Roselle maintained her composure and professionalism throughout the chaos of the tower collapse, falling debris and general confusion.
Roselle remained Michael’s constant companion until her death at the age of thirteen in 2011. She is remembered fondly by the millions she inspired on 9/11 and after, during public appearances. Read Michael’s loving tribute here.
In the tradition of GI Jane, Amber and her female comrades are proving that girls make for some pretty fierce soldiers. Military Working Dogs are chosen based on several different criteria, but gender isn’t one of them.
According to wearethemighty.com, females are used in patrol and detection just as often as their brothers in arms. The only real difference between male and female MWDs is size. Some missions benefit from a more compact canine partner, and dog soldiers like Amber are ready to go wherever their handlers and their country need them.
On September 11th, 2014, the Today Show recognized Search and Rescue dog Bretagne for her heroism on that fateful day 13 years prior (read the full tribute at missionmanager.com).
At sixteen years old, she is the last known living Ground Zero search dog. Bretagne was just 2 at the time of the terrorist attacks on New York, Pennsylvania and DC. She spent over two weeks sifting through the wreckage with her handler in grueling twelve hour shifts. Bretagne also served her country after Hurricane Rita and during the 2001 Olympic Winter Games. This old gal is a true American hero.
Colorado arsonists beware! Since 2007, black Lab Sadie has been working with the Major Crimes Unit of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
She is a nationally certified accelerant detection K9 and as of her 2011 nomination for the American Humane Society’s Hero Dog Awards, she had helped to solve over 400 fires! Learn more about Sadie and all the Hero Dog Winners and Finalists for the past several years at herodogawards.org.
11. Stacey Mae
Stacey Mae the regal Swiss Mountain Dog was only with us a short 5 years, but in that time she touched a lot of hearts. Maria Mandel, Stacey Mae’s mom, wanted to do something nice for sick children and the elderly.
She began the Teddy Bear Project in December 2010. Along with Maria, Stacey Mae visited hospitals and nursing homes delivering teddy bears and smiles to souls in need. Stacey will be dearly missed, but her beautiful legacy continues.
Sage the Wonder Dog will always have a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Washington DC according to the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian. That is because Sage was a FEMA Search and Rescue Dog at the Pentagon terrorist attack scene on September 11, 2001.
She is credited with locating the body of the terrorist who flew flight 77 into the Pentagon when she was only thirteen months old. But Sage didn’t stop there. She participated in rescue efforts after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, searched the island of Aruba for Natalee Holloway, and recovered human remains in Iraqi war zones.
Cristina Saint Blancard lost her hearing as a teenager and was lucky enough to be matched with Tatiana, a Black Lab specially trained to assist the hearing impaired in 2011. Cristina not only gained more independence when Tatiana came along, she literally owes her life to the faithful pooch.
On a hot South Florida night in 2012, Cristina woke up gasping for air – she was suffering a severe asthma attack. Paramedics later reported that if Tatiana had not alerted Cristina’s family to the emergency so quickly, she surely would have died. Tatiana was recognized by the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards that year for her loyalty and heroism.
According to the a 2012 article in The Salt Lake Tribune, Shanna Wilkinson did not obtain her hero dog, Holly, in the traditional fashion. She simply wanted a new best friend, and Holly filled that role right from the start.
The gorgeous Shetland Sheep Dog trained and participated in agility and herding competitions with Shanna. The two were inseparable. The true power of their bond revealed itself when Shanna was seventeen and she began having seizures. With absolutely no training, Holly began alerting Shanna by whining and pawing her leg minutes before she felt the seizures coming on. Shanna considers Holly her lifeline and never leaves home without her.
Voted the 2013 Hero Dog of the Year by the American Humane Association, Elle is making huge strides to end illiteracy and improve the public impression of Pit Bulls and other misunderstood breeds.
Elle started the therapy dog reading program, “Tail Wagging Tales,” to encourage children to develop a love for books. She is spreading the important messages of dog safety for children and families, as well as responsible dog ownership. Visit Elle’s website to check out how she is using her girl power to make the world a better place- ellethepitbull.com.
Donna Lawrence and Susie saved each other in a way. Donna and her husband adopted 3-month-old Susie just ten months after a brutal dog attack left Donna severely injured and with a debilitating fear of dogs. Donna felt a kinship to Susie after hearing her story. Susie herself had been a victim of a terrible attack perpetrated by her owner.
When she was 8 weeks old, she licked the face of her owners’ baby and, thinking she had bit the infant, her owner beat her, broke her jaw and set her on fire in a NC park. Susie survived by eating trash and drinking from puddles until she was finally rescued.
Appalled by Susie’s abuser’s slap on the wrist punishment, Donna spearheaded a crusade for justice resulting in the passing of Susie’s Law. Under the new law animal abusers in NC can receive actual prison sentences for their crimes. The fight against animal abuse is far from over in this country. To join the crusade visit susieshope.com.
In 2013 the Hickey family of Georgia felt compelled to adopt a severely neglected and abused puppy they learned about on an internet news site. Of all the families who applied to adopt Xena, they were chosen.
Linda Hickey told today.com that the moment Xena climbed into her autistic son Jonny’s lap and began to lick his face, she knew everything was about to change for the better. Jonny was mostly non-verbal and isolated, but forged an instant bond with the tough little survivor named Xena.
Jonny’s mother now describes her son as a “chatterbox.” The many sensory issues that are attached to Autism seem to melt away when Xena is around. Normally, Jonny has difficulty being touched, but loves for Xena to jump on him, kiss him, and crawl in his lap. Autism Therapy Dogs are relatively new and research is early, but promising. As for Xena and Jonny, they already know that the power of love can heal all!
Featured image courtesy of Denise Corliss, Bretagne’s handler & a heroine herself