Many famous people, alive and dead, have had the dogs as loving pets, including Mark Twain, Helen Keller, Humphrey Bogart, Jessica Alba, Michael J. Fox and more. One of the most adored dogs in film history, Pete the Pup of Our Gang, was a rescued pit bull terrier. Even most of the notorious Michael Vick dogs have forgotten their ugly pasts and become loving family members.
There are a number of famous pit bulls that have served as members of the armed forces, and, despite the fact that the army and navy have outlawed pits on base, at least one marines squadron still has a pit bull serving as their mascot. This is nothing new, pit bulls have been serving in the armed forces for hundreds of years. A pup named Jack Brutus (shown at left, photo Via The Smithsonian Institute) served as official mascot of Company K, First Connecticut Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. While Jack was merely a mascot and never actually served in the action, other war dogs have.
The most notable of these dogs is Stubby, the most decorated dog in American military history. Stubby was a stray dog that wandered into the U.S. encampment of the WWI 102nd Infantry. He befriended the soldiers and was sent out to France. Stubby served to brighten the men’s spirits while they battled in the trenches. He warned the troop of gas bombs and German attacks in the middle of the night. Stubby once found a hiding German spy and bit him in his pants until U.S. soldiers came to capture him. At one point, Stubby got too close to a grenade and his front leg was injured, later he was gassed.
Photo Via The 102nd Infantry Regimental Museum
After he returned home, he became a celebrity and was made a lifetime member of the American Legion, where he took part in every parade and every convention until his death in 1926. Stubby met Presidents Wilson, Harding and Coolidge. He received a special golden hero dog medal created by the Humane Education Society (later the Humane Society) that was attached to his jacket, sewn by ladies of the rescued town, Chateau Thierry. Other medals he received include the Purple Heart, a New Haven WWI Veterans Medal, 3 Services Stripes and many more.
An interesting side note, some people credit Stubby with creating the halftime show at football games. When his master attended Georgetown University to study law, the pup became the football team’s mascot. Between the two halves, he would play with a football on the field to entertain the crowd.
There are other wars that pit bulls have been noble fighters during wartime, including the war on drugs. Popsicle was found in a freezer on a drug dealer’s porch in New York. He was starving and almost frozen to death. To make matters worse, officers assumed he was used in an illegal dog fighting ring. But Popsicle was destined to do more with his life and was soon enlisted in a drug-dog training school in Virginia. The class was notoriously hard and of 500 dogs admitted the year before, only 4 dogs passed. The Popsicle proved to be smarter than average though, and graduated first in his class.
Within only two months, Popsicle took part in the largest drug bust ever made at the Mexican border. He sniffed out over 3,075 pounds of cocaine from a pineapple truck. He was later featured on Oprah and received a Significant Seizure Award from the U.S. Customs Department. (Image Via James Tourtellotte, [U.S. Customs Website])Source #1, #2
Pit bulls are notoriously loyal family pets and there are many records of them risking their lives to save their owners. These dogs are great protectors from snakes, and rescuers in a variety of emergencies.
Weela was a rescue dog abandoned in an alleyway at only four weeks old. She was saved by the Watkins family of California. One day when the family’s son was playing in the garden, Wella ran across the yard and knocked him to the ground. Within seconds, Weela was bit in the face by a rattlesnake that was hidden in the garden, saving the boy. The dog made a full recovery and later received the Ken-L Ration’s Dog Hero of the Year Award in 1993 after she helped save 30 people, 29 dogs, 13 horses and 1 cat in a heavy flood. Reader’s Digest included a story about Weela’s heroism, but as is all too common when pit bulls do good deeds, they neglected to include the fact that she was an American Pit Bull Terrier. (Image Via Pitbull Advocate 101)
Dixie Butler had a similar story. On November 11, 1999, Dixie jumped between the her family’s children and a deadly cottonmouth snake. The snake bit Dixie many times in the face and eyes. She, fortunately, survived and went on to receive the Hero Animal of the Year Award and was inducted into the Georgia Animal Hall of Fame.
More recently, Chief, a pit bull pet in the Philippines saved his family from a cobra. On February 12, 2007, Liberata la Victoria and her granddaughter, Maria Victoria Fronteras, were watching tv on the sofa when Chief bolted up and alerted the pair to a cobra 10 feet away. Maria pulled her grandmother into another room, where they waited, hoping the snake would leave the way it came in. After a while, Maria decided to peek out and see if the cobra was gone –unfortunately, it had edged within two feet of her and her grandmother, and opening the door had upset the snake. The cobra exposed its hood and was poised to strike when Maria screamed.
Image Via Marc Sabelita [Dogs In The News]That’s when Chief ran between the women and the snake, grabbed the cobra by its neck and killed it. Unfortunately, the snake delivered a fatal bite to Chief’s jaw and the dog soon collapsed. As the pup breathed the last time, he continued to wag his tail.
Source #1, #2, #3
Marley is a three-year-old pit bull terrier who belongs to a family with the same name. When a fire started up, the babysitter focused on opening a stuck fire exit that was rarely used. When she turned around, she saw Marley pulling the youngest girl in the family from the burning trailer.
Foxy helped saved her 82 year-old master from death. When Joan Maguire slipped on the ice on her doorstep and shattered her hip, she lied there in six degree weather, hoping that her flashlight signals might get her neighbor’s attention. The flashlight didn’t help, but her pit bull, Foxy, did. The pup laid with her to help warm her up, while barking for an hour and a half until help arrived. Officers at the scene agreed that without the dog’s warmth, Joan probably would have frozen to death. (Image Via Long Island Press)
In fair weather, these dogs have served as Lassie, going to get help when someone is in need. That’s just what little Gabby did when she saw her neighbor, Jim Roach, fall from a twelve-foot-high ladder. While Jim lay on the ground unconscious, Gabby licked his face and barked. Soon, she sprang into action and got the attention of her owner, Jeanne Davis, who adopted Gabby after she was pulled from an abusive home.
"She's barking and then she looks at me and runs back," Davis said. "It's kind of like something Lassie would do." Jeanne got the hint and started to follow Gabby, who led her to Jim. As soon as Jeanne approached her neighbor, the dog immediately stopped barking. Upon entry to the hospital, doctors discovered that Jim had multiple injuries, including four broken ribs, a fractured clavicle and bleeding on his brain.
Jim works as a psychology instructor and now tells his students about the kindhearted side of pit bulls that never gets media attention. "They're just a terrier," he said.
As for Jeanne, who was warned by many people not to adopt an abused pit bull, she says, "A lot of people said to put her down, that she's going to do something bad. I'm so proud of my dog."
Source #1, #2, #3,