Readers Digest Pet Hero’s of 2009

on October 3, 2009
Posted in News

In August this year, Readers Digest listed 5 pets that had performed heroic acts and asked the public to pick a winner. The winner was 13lb Chi Chi, a Chihuahua, for saving the lives of two women. Four other heroic pets were also contenders for the title, including a cat, a parrot, a horse and a terrier-poodle.

Chi Chi

In October 2008, Chi Chi, along with his owners Mary and Rick Lane, was visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina. All three of the Lanes were relaxing in their own beach chairs, with Chi Chi restrained to his chair due to a fascination of other beachgoers.

When Chi Chi suddenly did a very strange thing:

“He leapt out of his beach chair, still attached, dragging the beach chair, and he started sending out an alarm,” Mary said. “He was making a sound we never heard before. Rick said, ‘Hey, what’s the matter with the dog?’ “

Although nothing was wrong with Chi Chi, something was wrong with two elderly ladies who were in the ocean.

“There was a storm surge, and there were two elderly ladies, one had fallen on her back headfirst into the surf,” she said. “The other lady, a little bitty lady about 90 pounds, was trying to hold her head up, and she was in danger of being washed out.”

Both Mary and Rick sprung into action and together were able to pull the ladies out of the dangers of the riptide. Thankfully, both ladies were just fine and the Lanes returned to their spot on the beach to find Chi Chi fast asleep on his chair!

Sunny Boy

Chloe-Jean and Kristen Wendell were riding the horses in a local festival in Vivian, Louisiana, when an uncontrolled dog ran out of the crowd straight towards them. The sudden appearance of the dog spooked Kristen’s horse, Angel, and Kristen made the decision to quickly dismount for fear of being thrown. Chloe-Jean then also dismounted her quarter horse, Sunny Boy, to help her sister. However, Sunny Boy had the situation well under control! As the 75lb dog lunged at the two sisters, Sunny Boy jumped between them and kicked the dog in the face.

Sadly, the dog was eventually captured and euthanized. Their father, Mark Wendell, is still astonished by Sunny Boy’s action: “I’ve been around horses all my life and have not seen one take on another animal like that.”


In Denver, Colorado, lives Willie the Quaker Parrot. Very talkative, Willie calls his owner, Megan Howard, “Mama”. Although learning new words usually takes some time, Willie learnt and perfectly pronounced a new word that helped him become a hero.

Whilst babysitting her friend’s 2 year old daughter, Hannah, Megan left the room for a few minutes to run to the bathroom. However, just seconds later she heard Willie screaming “Mama, baby! Mama, baby!”

Running back into the room, Megan found Hannah choking on a Pop-Tart and immediately administered the Heimlich maneuver.

When thinking back on Willie’s actions, Megan says: “He was clearly trying to get my attention. He’s loud and talkative, but what really amazes me is that he added the word ‘baby’ on his own.”


Ron Gillette from Waukesha in Wisconsin is a diabetic who fell in his bathroom after getting up from bed in the middle of the night due to sinking blood sugar levels.

His terrier-poodle mix, Oscar, started yelping loudly and was able to awaken Ron’s wife, Ann. After finding her husband on the bathroom floor, Ann quickly called for an ambulance and Ron was taken to a nearby hospital, where he made a full recovery.

In retrospect, the Gillette’s have decided to rename Oscar and call him Eduardo instead for his saving Ron’s life.


Proving that cats can also be heroes is Winnie from New Castle, Indiana. After having a flood in their basement, Winnie’s owners, the Kessling family, were using a pump to suction out the leftover water. However, the pump was actually leaking dangerous carbon dioxide. As soon as the central heating system began working one cold night, the carbon dioxide was quickly scattered throughout the entire house.

With the family sound asleep, Winnie did what any respectable cat would do to raise her family: she jumped on them!

“Winnie jumped from her window perch right onto me, meowing like crazy and scratching at my hair and face,” said Cathy Kessling.

Cathy immediately woke up her husband and as she went to call 911, found her son lying face down on the floor. Although the family was hospitalized overnight, they were all fine and are grateful for the heroic action of their cat.

“One of the rescuers said that we could’ve been dead in five more minutes,” Cathy said.

Photo Credit: Loup-Vert

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Read also: Is This Golden Retriever Really A “Hero” For Saving A Drowning Deer?

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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