Dogs have shared a keen relationship with human beings for centuries. Their sense of loyalty is the stuff of legends. While dogs may be well known for their friendly demeanor, many of them have shown bravery that inspires humanity. As a result, these dogs have found themselves a place in the list of the most famous dogs in service.
These canine heroes have served and greatly contributed in various fields of service. We see examples in law enforcement/arson, military, science research, therapy, search and rescue, and more.
There are many hero dogs worthy of a salute. In this article, let’s get to know some of them that have made the headlines and have won the public’s heart and admiration for their heroic tales.
They remind us of the iconic dogs of eras past like Sgt. Tubby, the most decorated dog in American history.
Gabe: Military Service in Iraq
Gabe saves! Bravery is Gabe’s middle name having served in extremely dangerous missions as a military working dog.
During Gabe’s service from 2006-2009, he was actively involved in extremely dangerous missions as a military working dog deployed in Iraq. Gabe was one busy and brave dog having had over 200 combat assignments and a total of 26 explosives and weapons discoveries.
Gabe fought alongside soldiers in the most perilous of places, risking life, and limb as they faced violent attacks. As if that wasn’t enough for his hero acts, he also often visited injured soldiers in army hospitals and visited school children in elementary schools. He retired in 2009 after an outstanding career with over 40 awards and continues to visit kids, championing the importance of staying in school.
Edo: K-9 Hero
Edo exemplifies selfless heroism in the line of fire.
The LAPD was on the pursuit of two murder suspects who had broken into the home with three kids on New Year’s Day of 2016. When gunshots were heard, K-9 Edo interrupted one of the suspects as he fired shots at two of the children.
Edo engaged the suspect who killed himself after firing shots at the K-9 team. The kids survived, thanks to Edo‘s bravery. Along with the K-9 unit, Edo sprang to action at the most crucial time despite being fired at.
Edo’s courage and selflessness have earned it a place in our list of the most famous dogs in service.
Ice: A Narcotics Superhero
U.S. Forest Services, 2016
As resolute as ice.
A true hero and survivor, German Shepherd Ice is a narcotics and patrol dog with the U.S. Forest Service.
On the morning of July 21, 2016, Ice was deployed together with a team from the U.S. Forest Service to a suspected illegal marijuana production site. Ice pursued one of the suspects as they fled the scene.
The suspect stabbed Ice on the face and other body parts but Ice didn’t let up and continued to go after the suspect even as he was losing blood from his wounds. The suspect was taken into custody, but Ice suffered from profuse bleeding and was air-lifted to a medical facility.
Ice was operated upon and made a full recovery, and rejoined the U.S. Forest Service.
Luca: The Life Saver
Retired or not, Luca’s heroism stands tall.
His heroism continued on even after he retired from service. Luca worked as a search and rescue dog until 2016.
When an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease went missing, the Fort Worth police brought him out of retirement to do what he did best, find the missing and help rescue efforts. Luca, whose reputation as a search and rescue dog was legendary, was called in after searchers scanned the area without success.
Upon reaching a bush opening that led to a steep trail down to the Trinity River, Luca alerted the search team. A chopper was used to look for the man who was then found stuck knee-deep in the mud and was in danger of being engulfed by the rushing water. The team saved the man from being pulled by the water and brought him to safety. Thanks to Luca, a life was saved.
Summer: The Battle Guard
Marine Corps, 2013
Summer, the unforgettable war hero.
Summer worked as a military working dog and war dog with the Marines Corps in 2013 and also served for seven years as a police explosive detection dog before she retired.
Her duties also included security sweeps and protecting VIPs and foreign dignitaries visiting the US. This decorated dog has seen action in war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq doing routine patrols, clearing routes for the combat troops, discovering stockpiles of weapons, and improvised explosive devices.
Her heroic work earned her the Lois K Pope K9 Medal of Courage in May 2018 and the PDSA Commendation Award in July 2017. This is also the reason she features in our list of the most famous dogs in service.
Odin: The Purveyor of Justice
Service Dog, 2017
A criminal was brought to justice thanks to Odin.
When a Texas state trooper was shot and killed while on duty on Thanksgiving night of 2017, a deputy from the Waller County Sheriff’s Office in Texas and his service dog partner Odin helped in the hot pursuit.
They both tracked and chased the suspect in the woodlands. Odin successfully captured the suspect and became one of the most famous dogs in service in recent times.
Layka: The Soldier Savior
US Military Combat, 2013
Like a wounded but patriotic soldier, not even a gunshot can stop Layka from doing her duty.
Like other hero dogs, Layka’s bravery in the face of clear and present danger is one for the books. She was a part of a team on an assault mission in an enemy site in an Afghan Village.
Layka went inside the building to search for combatants and explosives. She took four rounds from an AK-47 and was severely shot in her right shoulder area. Layka medically retired in August 2012.
Kota: The Police Dog
Virginia Police Service Dog, 2014
This hero dog may have fallen, but his level of heroism reaches high.
Kota was a police dog on duty on January 3, 2014, when he relentlessly chased suspects in a home burglary.
The suspects went to an upstairs crawl space and Kota pursued them until he fell 8 feet to the floor.
The German shepherd continued its pursuit despite being hurt until the suspects were arrested. Kota underwent surgery and rehabilitation therapy.
Adak: Bomb Squad Hero
US Army War Dog, 2008
Adak averted terrorist attacks and saved many lives with his heroic acts.
Adak was honored in 2017 as an American Military Hero Dog because of his accomplishments as a war dog and security dog. Because of his unmatched bomb detection skills, Adak was able to save many lives in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.
Adak rescued and evacuated trapped individuals and pursued terrorists during a bombing incident in Kabul Hotel on January 14, 2008. He retired after 12 years of service. Adak eventually became a companion dog to a family before crossing over to dog heaven.
Chi Chi: Guardian Angel to Cancer Survivors
Therapy Dog, 2018
Chi Chi may have no legs but her selfless service reaches far. She walks the talk when it comes to resilience and positivity.
Chi Chi lost all four of her legs when she was left for dead, but her heroism stands tall. Also a cancer survivor, her resilience enabled her to adapt to her prosthesis and successfully serve as a certified therapy dog. This miracle pup continues to inspire people and spreads positivity wherever she goes.
She is the 2018 Therapy Hero Dog in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards and deservingly so. This gives her a special place in our list of the ten most famous dogs in service.
These patriotic and prolific dogs are a gift to humanity, providing inspiration and undaunted service to many. Their sacrifices and purpose-led lives deserve to be etched in history.
Now that you have learned about the most famous dogs in service, you can also have a look at the most famous dogs by breed.
Discover other well-known dogs in history.