These Hero Dogs Saved the Lives of Family and Friends
This hero dog, who lives with her family in Erie, Colo., beat out nine other finalists for the national honor. The award recognizes dogs that exhibit "an extraordinary sense of courage or resolve by heroically helping persons in need," according to the HSUS.
Last winter, 14-year-old Kenai seemed more tired than usual after a day outdoors with her family in the mountains of Colorado's Western Slope. Kenai's owner, Todd Smarr, tells Paw Nation he thought she might have played too hard in the snow. But later that evening, after Smarr and his wife, Michelle, had settled down for the night in the basement of the vacation house they were renting with friends, Kenai began to whine and bark.
As Smarr tried to comfort Kenai, his friend Karen Hull who was also staying in the vacation home, got up and announced she was feeling ill. Smarr woke his wife Michelle to help, and moments later she collapsed in his arms. Smarr rushed to wake the rest of their friends and evacuate the house. The seven adults, two children and four dogs all escaped serious injury, although Michelle and Karen both required treatment in a hyperbaric chamber after being airlifted to a Denver hospital. They later learned the source of the carbon monoxide leak was the vacation home's oven.
Without the early warning from Kenai, Todd doubts that any of the house's inhabitants would have survived the night. Kenai is taking her newfound celebrity in stride. In addition to wining the "Dog of Valor" award, she was honored by the American Humane Association and the Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation.
"She's the same compassionate and loving dog as always," says Smarr, who is using the experience to remind people of the importance of installing carbon monoxide detectors.