Time’s Top Heroic Animals

Happy National Heroes Day! There’s a hero in all of us, no matter who or what you are. Just to prove that point, take a look at some that made it to Time’s list of heroic animals.


Sometimes heroism can come in the quieter, more unassuming guise of a miniature therapy horse (such as the one seen above). Magic, a blue-eyed mare, regularly visited patients who needed comfort, whether in group homes, hospitals or hospice-care facilities, but one particular interaction gained her recognition as AARP’s Most Heroic Pet in 2010. Magic went to visit a patient who had lived in an assisted-living facility and hadn’t spoken to anyone during her three years there. But the moment she laid eyes on Magic, she said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” Those first words caused the staff to break out in tears, and she continued to communicate from that point onward.


Amidst the chaotic, haunting images that have defined news coverage of Japan since the earthquake hit on March 11, a heartwarming scene emerged last week. A video captured a haggard dog standing guard and protecting an injured companion in the middle of a mutilated landscape, occasionally offering a comforting stroke of the paw. It took rescue workers an hour to convince the sentry to leave the ward. The injured dog was then taken to a clinic, the other to a shelter. The world was left with a heartening lesson: Sometimes a dog can be another dog’s best friend, too.

In the summer of 2008, Moko the bottlenose dolphin was a constant fixture at a beach along the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, coming by every few days to play with swimmers. But one day her visit was more business than pleasure when she showed up just in time to save two beached pygmy sperm whales. Successfully doing what humans could not, Moko seemed to communicate with the two whales and lead them safely back into deeper water. Had the dolphin not shown up, rescuers said, the mother whale and calf likely would have been killed as they had resisted human attempts to herd them to sea.

Trained as a police dog in Halifax, Nova Scotia — where he worked for six years, helping to find more than $1 million in contraband — Trakr had retired in May 2001 before he and his trainer, Canadian police officer James Symington, drove 15 hours to help recovery efforts in New York City following the Sept. 11 attacks. Trakr was credited with locating the last survivor found beneath the rubble. Two days after arriving and searching for survivors the entire time, Trakr collapsed from smoke inhalation, exhaustion and burns and was treated for his injuries before returning to Canada. Later in life Trakr suffered from a degenerative neurological disorder that experts say could have been caused by his work at Ground Zero.

In 1925, a ravaging case of diphtheria broke out in the isolated Alaskan village of Nome. No plane or ship could get the serum there, so the decision was made for multiple sled dog teams to relay the medicine across the treacherous frozen land. The dog that often gets credit for eventually saving the town is Balto, but he just happened to run the last, 55-mile leg in the race. The sled dog who did the lion’s share of the work was Togo. His journey, fraught with white-out storms, was the longest by 200 miles and included a traverse across perilous Norton Sound — where he saved his team and driver in a courageous swim through ice floes. Togo, we salute you.

photos and text taken from here.