The Humane Society of the United States 2011 Valor Dog of the Year is a Golden Retriever named Yogi. Yogi’s owner was riding his bicycle with Yogi trotting along beside him, when he had an accident – going over the handle bars and hitting his head. Yogi remained with his owner (Paul) until he regained consciousness, then didn’t want to leave him. Paul was unable to move and bleeding from his nose and mouth. He was off the beaten track where it was unlikely he would be found and was unable to call for assistance. He urged Yogi to go get help, and after about 45 minutes, the dog ran toward home. Near his home he encountered neighbors that he knew, and the normally quiet dog barked frantically and got them to come with him.
When they got to where Paul was, Yogi stayed by his side guarding his friend. Paul was taken to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed that his vertebrae had pinched his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the chest down.
“The dog alerting his neighbor was instrumental in getting him to a hospital and preventing his choking to death or going into shock. He might not have survived if he hadn’t been found until the next day,” said Dr. Juan La Torre, medical director of the spinal cord injury and amputee program at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Austin. Doctors credit Yogi with saving Paul’s life.
Paul remains paralyzed and in a wheelchair, but he has regained some feeling in his torso, legs and back. Since the accident, Yogi refuses to leave Paul’s side. If he leaves a room of his house to go to another, Yogi follows. He simply won’t let Paul out of his sight. There is nothing quite like the loyalty of our four-legged friends.