As we reflect on 2019, we often think of the milestone moments where ordinary people became heroes for doing extraordinary things. Our beloved dogs, ordinary yet extraordinary in their own right, can also be heroes.

Meet 13 of the most heroic dogs of 2019, furry friends who went viral for protecting and serving those they most love or complete strangers.

13. Woman Says Dog Saved Her Life After She Thought She Was Perfectly Fine

Shauna Darcy, a young woman from Australia, credited her service dog, Ruby, with saving her life by detecting an undiagnosed heart ailment.

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In October, Ruby’s concerned behavior prompted Darcy to call for medical help before it was too late. Darcy was rushed to the hospital and her life saved, thanks to her attentive dog.

12. Sweet Rescue Dog Bravely Saves Foster Mom from Rattlesnake

Nellie, a 5-year-old pitbull living with her foster mom, Jane Taylor, took on a rattlesnake they stumbled upon while on a hike in order to protect Taylor from getting hurt.

Nellie has recovered from the ordeal, and Taylor is thankful the dog was by her side that day.

“When Nellie ran over, it was almost as if she was on it saying, ‘I got this one, Mom — keep going,’” Taylor said.

11. Family Dog Bravely Chases Off Six Alleged Intruders Before Being Shot

A dog named Zeus chased down five intruders who tried to break into his family’s Virginia apartment. Sadly, Zeus was shot and killed by the group who threatened his family.

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His owners remember their pup fondly, heartbroken over his death. “Zeus was family. He was real family,” Christopher Keener said.

10. Hero Dog Finds 90-Year-Old Woman with Dementia Who Was Lost in the Woods Overnight

Saby, a K-9 officer with the Birmingham, Alabama, police, was able to successfully locate an elderly woman with dementia who had wandered off and gotten lost somewhere in the woods behind her home in Birmingham.

Loudell Hubbard, 90, had fallen into a creek and was unable to stand up. Saby found Hubbard before she succumbed to the elements and she was taken to a hospital, alive. Neighbors and police credit Saby with saving Hubbard’s life.

9. Family Escapes Devastating House Fire Thanks to Loyal Dog Who Woke Them Up Just in Time

While Chloe Antonelli, 21, slept soundly in her Alabama home, her dog Harper was wide awake.

Harper, a German shepherd, sensed the blaze and woke up her family members to insist they leave the house.

The family’s home burned to the ground, but all human and animal lives were saved, thanks to Harper. “If it wasn’t for Harper making noise, we probably wouldn’t be here,” Antonelli said.

8. Loyal Dog Shot by Intruders While Protecting Family of 5 from Masked Gunmen

In May, a family dog was shot twice while trying to protect her family from a home invasion in Houston. When four armed robbers broke into the family home, the dog charged at the intruders, ready to attack.

Thankfully, the family escaped unharmed and the dog recovered from her injuries. “It’s a good situation out of a bad situation, the best could have happened,” family friend Khari Anderson said.

7. Hero Dog Leads Owner to Elderly Woman in Snow in Below-Freezing Temps

A 4-year-old black lab mix named Midnight alerted her owner to an elderly neighbor who had fallen and was unable to get up during one of the coldest nights of the Minnesota winter.

The woman had fallen while trying to fill her bird feeder — a kind act in such cold temperatures.

“It’s not every dog that pays attention to things like this,” her owner, Tim Curfman, said. “And she got so many treats, it was a shame.”

6. After Stray Dog Stands Between Toddler and Attack, Child’s Family Adopts Their New Hero

A stray dog from Tennessee befriended and protected a 2-year-old girl named Aurora from an unknown dog that wandered into the front yard where the girl was playing.

“He ran across the yard and put himself in between Aurora and the other stray dog,” said the girl’s grandmother, Sima Bentley. “The dog attacked him instead of attacking the baby.”

Aurora’s family was able to formally adopt the dog, who they named Oreo, just in time for the girl’s third birthday.

5. Elderly Woman Called Neighbor’s Pitbull a ‘Bad Breed’ Until Dog Saved Her Life

Simba, a blue nose pitbull, alerted his owner to an elderly woman who had fallen down in her apartment in Sweden, trapped for two days with a broken hip.

Previously, the neighbor had been skittish of the pit.

“He always tried to greet her, but she called him mean and looked at him with fear,” said the dog’s owner,  Arjanit Mehana. “She never liked him because he was a ‘bad’ breed.”

But once Simba rescued the helpless neighbor, she realized she had been wrong about the dog.

“She said, ‘Thank you for hearing me.’ I thought she was talking to me at first,” Mehana said. “But then she said, ‘No, not you — the nice doggie.’”

4. Dog Once Labeled ‘Unadoptable’ Rescues 3 Girls from Possible Abduction

Edgar, a dog who had been considered “unadoptable,” found his way into the hearts and home of the Lambert family in Pennsylvania. The typically calm and docile dog went into a “rage” when an intruder snuck into their home in April, allegedly intending to abduct one or more of the Lamberts’ three young girls.

When Thom Lambert woke up to Edgar’s ferocious barking, he feared that one of his daughters had been kidnapped, similar to another family whose daughter had been kidnapped earlier that same month.

But Edgar’s guard dog instinct kept all three girls safe, and the alleged kidnapper was apprehended. “We’re incredibly lucky to have this dog,” Lambert said.

3. 15-Year-Old Mother Buries Baby Alive in Field, but Heroic Dog Comes to Child’s Rescue

Ping Pong, a 6-year-old dog in Korat, Thailand, was in a field with his owner when he dug out an infant who’d been discarded in a shallow grave after birth.

Police discovered the infant belonged to a 15-year-old mother who feared her family’s response if they found out she was pregnant.

Ping Pong’s owner, Usa Nisaika, said his dog has been loyal since birth.

“Ping Pong was hit by a car, so he’s disabled,” the farmer said. “But I kept him because he’s so loyal and obedient, and always helps me out when I go into the fields to tend to my cattle.”

Thanks to Ping Pong’s faithfulness and loyalty, a helpless baby’s life was saved.

2. Stray Dogs Save Life of Newborn Girl Wrapped in Plastic and Dumped in Sewage Drain

Three stray dogs from India became heroes when they discovered an hours-old infant abandoned in a sewage drain. One of the dogs stepped inside the drain and managed to pull the baby out into the open where she could be spotted by passersby.

The dogs barked repeatedly to attract the attention of a passing motorist, who stopped to investigate.

The baby, who had been wrapped in plastic, was taken to a hospital with head injuries, where she was last reported to be in critical condition.

1. Multiple Veterans Say Hero Dog Injured in Al-Baghdadi Raid Should Get a Purple Heart

A Belgian Malinois named Conan became the subject of debate over whether he should receive a purple heart for his heroic actions that led to the death of an Islamic State leader.

Conan chased down Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an October raid, getting injured when al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest.

The dog received a medal and a plaque for his actions, but many veterans believe Conan deserved the distinguished honor of receiving a Purple Heart.

“Do I believe Conan should receive a Purple Heart for actions on target? Absolutely,” said Michael Bollinger, a former Army Ranger who was awarded a Purple Heart in 2017. “They’re out there with us every step of the way.”

We salute all of these furry companions who came to the aid of humans in their most desperate hour of need. We do not take our dogs for granted, knowing they play key roles in guarding our health, safety, and well-being.

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