Share on Facebook

7 Amazing Hero Pets

Inspiring stories on four legs: These animals prove that some furry friends can make all the difference.

1 / 7

1. The Lifesaving Dog

Three-year-old Alida Knobloch and her 60-pound golden doodle, Mr. Gibbs, are almost inseparable. They are connected by a special bond of love and, because of Alida’s rare lung disease, by a two-foot tube that delivers oxygen from tanks on the dog’s back to Alida’s nose. Read more…

Photograph by Tamara Reynolds

2 / 7

2. The Mournful Elephant Herd

Lawrence Anthony had a special way with elephants-so much so that when the Souh African conservationist suddenly died of a heart attack in March 2012, the 21 pachyderms living on his land paid homage to him. Read more…

Photos: Anthony: Courtesy Karen Davison; Elephants: Courtesy Francoise Malby-Anthony

3 / 7

3. The Calming Piggy

When speech pathologist Lois Brady, 49, visits special-needs students in San Francisco schools, she often brings along her assistant: a jet-black, 70-pound miniature Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named, naturally, Buttercup. Strange enough to intrigue some of Brady’s most withdrawn students, Buttercup is a hit. Read more…

Photograph by Vern Evans

4 / 7

4. The Big Hearted Lion

With paws the size of dinner plates, bright black eyes, and a luxuriant golden mane, Jupiter, a 13-year-old, 550-pound lion, bears no resemblance to the malnourished cub that Ana Julia Torres rescued from a travelling circus in Colombia in 1999. Read more…

Photo by Meridith Kohut/Redux

5 / 7

5. The Life Saving Kitty

When Amy Jung, 36, and her son, Ethan, eight, visited the Door County Humane Society in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin last February, they had no idea that one of the frolicking cats would, within hours, save Amy’s life. Read more…

Photo courtesy of Carrie Counihan

6 / 7

6. The Guide Horse

Renata Di Pietro was studying to be an opera singer. But at 23, while on a music scholarship at the University of Iowa in 1976, her vision began to fail. Soon, it became increasingly difficult to read scores and pick up hand signals from conductors, and the gifted soprano was forced to drop out. Read more…

Photo courtesy of Mali Azima/Getty Images

7 / 7

7. The Truly Golden Retriever

As Paul Horton, a 59-year-old retired mechanical engineer, rolls his wheelchair around his Austin, Texas, home, his six-year-old golden retriever, Yogi, trails closely behind him. Yogi and Horton, who was paralyzed from the waist down two years ago in a cycling accident, have always been buddies, but now there is an unbreakable bond-all because of the day that Yogi ran away. Read more…

Photo courtesy of Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman