The most newsworthy dogs of 2013
Whether brave, heartbreaking, or award-winning, these pups all proved to be more than Man's Best Friend
OrlandoCecil Williams, a blind 61-year-old New Yorker, was standing on the subway platform with his seeing eye dog, Orlando, on Dec. 17 when he began to faint. Orlando barked frantically, but Williams blacked out and fell onto the tracks. Orlando jumped after his master, just as an A train was approaching the station. The black lab tried to push Williams up, to no avail. Williams managed to pull his beloved dog between the tracks as the train rolled over them. What's more, Williams was about to lose Orlando who, at 11, was to retire from service. Williams' medical benefits would cover only a new service dog. But after their heartwarming tale went viral, donations poured in and now the pair won't be separated. "I appreciate that people got together and helped me to keep Orlando. It is going to cover him for the rest of his life," Williams told ABC News.
ObieObie's journey actually began in 2012, when he made headlines as the world's fattest standard dachshund. It was an unfortunate label and condition, as the 77-pound pup was forced to scoot along the floor on his chub. His elderly owners didn't have the wherewithal to care for him properly, so eventually, Obie was scooped up by a Daschund rescue and taken in by a Portland woman who initiated Obie's transformation. The goal was to get Obie down to 40 pounds within the year. Through exercise and diet, he achieved the goal in half that time. In May, the little guy underwent surgery to remove the 2.5 pounds of excess skin. Today, Obie is down to a healthy weight for his breed, looking fit, happy, and healthy running along the beach and posing for photos that populate his very own Facebook page.
MaggieWhen tornados ripped through parts of Illinois in November, Jon Byler Dann and his four children were lucky to be alive. They lost their home and their beloved dog Maggie. Or so they thought. Nine days after the devastation, when Dann and his friends were surveying the wreckage, they heard a faint barking sound. They quickly removed large pieces of rubble to find the black and white shepherd dog wrapped in insulation. She was dehydrated, in shock, and had a dislocated hip. But she wagged her tail when she saw her owner. "She was happy to see me," Dann said. "And I was happy to see her. It was unreal."
MileyPoor Miley was left for dead in a pile of garbage. When Eldad Hagar from the Los Angeles animal rescue organization Hope For Paws found her after months of surviving among the trash, she was starved, mangey, and barely able to lift her head. Hagar sat with her for an hour, petting her snout and coaxing her with food, until she was able to get up on her own. They took her to a vet where she was treated for parasites, bacterial infections, and malnutrition. After medical baths and aid, the little thing was wiped out. After three days of rest, Miley seemed revived and gave her savior a kiss. A few weeks later, Miley even took new rescue Frankie, a black Chihuahua, under her wing. The pair quickly became buddies, playing and cuddling. Now the two are looking for a new home, so, you know, get on that. Watch Miley's miraculous recovery here:
DannyDanny was one of 30 dogs rescued from a terrible hoarding situation in rural Texas. But when the 5-month-old hound mix was taken to the vet, doctors found he had a rare case of bilateral juvenile cataracts, which left him basically blind. The good people at Austin Humane Society were so taken with Danny's story that they offered to do the $4,000 surgery for free and made a call for donations to help cover Danny's post-surgery treatment. There's no doubt that it was all worth it. Watch the video of Danny seeing for the first time.
Ben and SunnyIt was a big year for political puppies. Secretary of State John Kerry adopted a yellow lab in November that he named after Ben Franklin. Ben joins the Kerry family's two Schnauzers, Stache and Clousseau. While Ben is undoubtedly adorable, his arrival was trumped by another famous pup, Sunny. Sunny Obama joined the First Family back in August to keep Bo company now that Malia and Sasha are busier with school. But it was in December that Sunny made headlines again, after she accidentally knocked over a toddler during a holiday celebration at the White House. The girl was fine, but Sunny might have to learn some manners.
JetBrit Jessica Cowley is blind, and for five years has enjoyed the dutiful service of her guide dog Jet. In September, Jessica was walking with the black Labrador and her 1-year-old son Jacob. She was just stepping off the curb when she heard a car screech. Before the car hit, Jet wrestled free from Jessica's grip and pushed Jacob's stroller out of the way. The car knocked Jessica to the ground, but thanks to her fast-acting pup, Jacob was out of harm's way. "It doesn't bear thinking about what might have happened if she hadn't done what she did," Jessica told the Telegraph. "She was worried about me, but once she licked my face and checked that I was conscious, she was fine."
Banana JoeThe Westminster Dog Show is a quick and, often, hilarious introduction to dog breeds you've never heard of, let alone seen. What's this about an Italian Bergamasco? And come again, Belgian Laekenois? But rarely do those furry Google-searches win the big prize: Best in Show. That was, of course, until Banana Joe. This diminutive pup with the happy little scrunched face is an affenpinscher. He more closely resembles a stocking stuffer, and yet, the little toy beat out the familiar stock, including divas like the bichon frisé, and crowd favorites like the Old English sheepdog (named Swagger no less). Yep, Banana Joe, we're not sure how you did it, but you stole our hearts.