Mankind's partnership with the dog goes back further than our written history. It has been us and the pooches against the world for a very, very long time. This week we're going to celebrate some of the great deeds done by our four-legged friends here in Houston.
Boomer and Tommy The working dogs of the Harris County Sheriff's office are serious about crime busting. Two of the K-9 unit heavyweights, Boomer and Tommy, were nominated for the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards 2013 for their contributions to law enforcement in Houston. Boomer is the veteran, having been responsible for the seizure of more than $6 million worth of illegal drugs. Tommy is the up-and-comer, but has already been instrumental in cornering suspects, finding lost people and locating evidence in sexual assault cases.
Spartan Major Will Lyles of The Woodlands was serving in Afghanistan in 2010 when a homemade bomb blew off his legs. After returning home the K9 Soldiers Inc. charity decided to step in and help out Lyles by providing him a service dog, a German Shepherd named Spartan. After undergoing mutual training at the charity's headquarters in New Jersey, Spartan returned home with Lyles to help him navigate life on his prosthetic legs. Spartan picks up things Lyles has dropped, can serve as a support if Lyles gets unsteady and is also trained to create space between people and his partner for protection.
Sonny Another service dog helping to fight the good fight is Sonny, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix partnered with Friendswood's Corporal Steven Schulz (USMC). Like Lyles Schulz was the victim of an explosive, though Schulz served in Iraq. The bomb paralyzed his left side, blinded his left eye and had 90 percent of his right frontal lobe removed. Still, Schulz, with Sonny at his side not only lives a full life, they've traveled together to New York helping raise millions of dollars for injured service members and their families.
Bretagne Bretagne is an old soldier living out a comfortable retirement in Cypress with her owner Denise Corliss. She's one of the few remaining search and rescue dogs who responded to the 9/11 attacks to still be around, and she's traveled all over the country working with the devastation of hurricanes. Even retired, Bretagne still serves her community at the Cy Fair Volunteer Fire Department as part of their reading program for young children. The calm attention of the Bretagne at story time tends to keep children interested and in line.
The Bishop's Place Three It's an old chestnut in Texas that if you want to protect your family you should buy a gun. However, one burglar, James Dean Chapman, found himself in a less deadly but way more hilarious home security situation. After entering a home in the 1300 block of Bishops Place in the Glen Loch Farms subdivision he found the owner of the house waiting for him at the top of the stairs with a hockey stick. Feeling that fleeing was probably the best course of action Chapman started to descend back to the first floor, only to find the owner's three dogs blocking his path and in very bad moods. The three dogs held Chapman prisoner until the police arrived to arrest him.
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Romeo You're going to want to get your tissues out for this one.
Lauren Cribbs had often noticed two chihuahuas playing in a field on her drive to work in north Houston, but one day she came across a heartbreaking sight. One of the dogs had been hit by a car. The other, called Romeo by Cribbs, bravely pulled his friend's body from the road and into a nearby ditch, guarding it day and night and refusing to leave her. The video Cribbs shot of the poor dog went viral, and she managed to get him veterinary help and a foster home.
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Ranger Another K-9 police dog, Ranger hails from Montgomery County. Ranger retired this year after five years of service into the care of MCSO Deputy David Everton. In his time on the force he was responsible for 19 apprehensions on drug charges, got nearly 400 pounds of cocaine off of the streets, and more than recouped the cost of bringing him over from the Czech Republic in 2010 by recovering hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers.
Bobo Most of the hero animals we've seen tend to be the bigger breeds, but as the saying goes it's not the size of the dog in the fight so much as it's the size of the fight in the dog. Meet Bobo. The poodle sprang into action when he heard his owner, Nissa Gongora, 11, scream. A pitbull was rushing to attack the girl and Bobo heroically stood his ground in front of her. A brutal fight ensued, and Bobo came off the loser, but it bought Gongora time to get a chair to hit the pitbull with until it slunk away. Bobo was rushed to the hospital, where he lay in critical condition. He has since made a full recovery and returned home to the little girl he saved.
Donna Houston is home to at least two remarkable canines who served alongside the men and women in the wars in the Middle East. The first is Donna, owned by Joaquin Aranda. Donna was a bomb-sniffer working with the Marine corporal, who says she never missed an explosive while they were working together. When Aranda heard that Donna was being retired he went through the sometimes complicated process of adopting his former partner, who now lives with him here in Houston.
Fenji Alex Hoffman was also a Marine in the conflict with a dog by his side, in this case a German Sherpherd named Fenji. Fenji sports an honorary Purple Heart after she was injured in the explosion that killed her previous handler, but continued to serve with Hoffman. The resulting injuries required specialized care for the rest of her life. This didn't deter Hoffman, who sent Fenji to his parents' Friendswood home to recover and wait for him to finish his tour. These days she's adjusted well to civilian life, taking it easy in a city that knows how to treat its four-legged heroes.