We’ve all heard tales of animals coming to the rescue of humans in distress. So we’ve collected some of the best stories around that’ll bring a heart-warming jolt into an otherwise dull day.
1. Dolphins save surfer from shark
Todd Endris, 24-year old owner of Monterey Aquarium in California, was out surfing with his friend one morning when a 15ft great white shark tried to take a mighty chunk out of his back.
“The shark shredded his back ‘like banana peel'”
The shark came back for a second time, clamping Endris’ torso and board in his mouth, shredding his back “like a banana peel” he told TODAY programme. Third time, the beast grabbed his knee in his mouth but managed to kick to it in the nose.
As though sent from heaven (Endris’ words, not ours), a pod of dolphins appeared and formed a ring around him, warding it off from attacking Endris again until he could climb onto his board and ride to shore.
Endris survived thanks to the pod of dolphins – but only after receving 500 stitches and 200 staples to close his wounds.
2. Dog saves owner after he breaks his back skiing
Now, here’s a reason to take your dog skiing with you. Leonard Somers was doing his final runs of the day with his nephew when they became separated.
His nephew started to worry when he didn’t meet him at the bottom of the mountain. Somers had fallen into a ravine, smashing his back on a frozen tree trunk.
“Juneau the dog helped dig me out and laid on me to keep me warm until help came”
The impact had punctured his neck, injuring his spinal cord. He was paralysed from the waist down and no one knew where he was.
Somers’ five-year-old husky dog, Juneau, who had been following him, ran to the bottom of the run to find help.
Another skiier Jenny Beltman saw Juneau pacing and panicking. “I first saw the dog by himself and then he headed over to where Leonard was,” Beltman told FOX 31 News.
Luckily, Somers was rescued and taken to the nearest hospital. Afterwards he reflected: “Juneau knew I needed help. She helped me dig out and laid on me to keep me warm until help came.”
3. Beluga whale saves diver from drowning
Freediver Yang Yun was taking part in a competition to be a beluga whale trainer at the Polar Land Aquarium in Harbin, China.
After diving 15ft down under the water, she got cramp in her right leg from the Arctic cold temperatures in the pool. “I began to choke and sank even lower and I thought that was it for me – I was dead,” Yun told the Daily Mail.
A beluga whale called Mila who was also in the tank sensed her distress and helped lift her to the surface.
“She’s a sensitive animal who works closely with humans,” said a Polar Land Aquarium official, “and I think this girl owes Mila her life.”
4. Golden retriever saves child camper from wild cougar
11-year-old Austin Forman was out collecting wood for a fire in British Columbia, Canada when his golden retriever dog Angel started acting oddly. Within seconds, a cougar tried to jump on Austin
“The dog obviously knew something was up because she ran towards me just at the right time,” Forman told CNN. “The cougar ended up getting her instead of me.”
The 18-month-old dog had surgery to repair serious head wounds, but ultimately she saved the kid’s life. “”She was my best friend, but now she’s even greater to me. She’s more than a best friend now.”
5. Dick Van Dyke saved by porpoises after fell asleep on surfboard
Not quite the same as drowning or avalanche suffocation, but actor Dick Van Dyck claims he was once rescued by a pod of porpoises!
The Mary Poppins star told an American chat show host that he was riding a 10ft longboard off the coast of Virginia Beach, USA when he drifted off to sleep.
“I woke up out of sight of land,” said Van Dyke. “And I looked around and I started paddling with the swells, and I started seeing fins swimming around me. I thought, “I’m dead”.”
The fins turned out to be porpoises, who pushed Van Dyke’s board back to shore.
6. Dog saves 92 sailors from shipwreck
In 1919, a coal-steamer ship with 92 sailors on board was caught in a winter blizzard while making it’s final journey of the season.
While in the midst of the storm, the ship ran out of fuel and was fast being drawn towards the rocky, dangerous shore.
There was a safe beaching spot nearby, so the crew reportedly lowered a Newfoundland (or possibly a cross-breed collie) dog into the water with a tow rope in its mouth. The dog swam all the way to shore, still holding onto the rope.
A breecher buoy was rigged up and allowed all 92 people on board to be safely rescued onto dry land.
7. Police officer claims shark saved his life
A police officer from Maiana, an island in the Pacific Ocean, claims life was saved by a shark after he was left stranded at sea for 15 weeks.
Toakai Teitoi went to Kiribati with his brother-in-law to be sworn in as a policeman. The return journey was supposed to take two hours in their 15ft wooden boat.
The men stopped to fish on the way, had a little nap and when the woke up couldn’t see land (there’s a pattern starting to appear here…). Shortly they ran out of fuel. Luckily there was enough food on board to survive by, but water was scarce.
“I felt a big bump on the front of the boat, followed by some scratching…”
After five weeks Teitoi’s brother-in-law died of dehydration. Only 24 hours later, a huge tropical downpour left Teitoi with 10 gallons of water he saved in containers.
Weeks went by until Teitoi was resting under a canvas sheltered from the sun. “I felt a big bump on the front of the boat, followed by some scratching,” says Teitoi.
“I looked over the side and saw a six-foot shark circling my boat, but it was mainly bumping against the hull. It definitely caught my attention because I had been fast asleep. Then, because I was now awake, I looked around me and saw the stern of a ship.”
Teitoi was able to wave the boat down and they came to his rescue. He says without the shark’s signal, he would never have woken up and spotted the boat – it saved his life.
8. Dog saves climbers from freezing to death
Three climbers stranded on Mount Hood in Oregon, USA were kept alive during a snowstorm, thanks to their dog Velvet.
Two women and a man were separated from their climbing group after they fell off an icy ledge and slid 500m down the mountain. They huddled in sleeping bags while 70mph winds battered them and temperatures dropped well below freezing.
Velvet the dog took turns lying on top of the climbers during the night, according to CBS News.
Eventually the group were tracked with live transmitters and airlifted to safety. The rescue team say that is was probably the dog’s body warmth that saved the climbers’ lives.