I grew up with a jolly Golden Retriever named Bentley. His birthday was a day after mine and in a lot of ways he was my best friend. Dogs are known as “Man’s Best Friend,” but they have proven to be more than that on numerous occasions. Dogs can be angels in disguise, heroes, and have even been known to save lives.
That’s just what happened when a former shelter dog named Petunia recently saved a 3-year-old girl who was in desperate need of help.
According to a letter penned by one of the dog’s owners and later shared on Delta Animal Shelter’s Facebook page, Petunia (whom they call “Peanut” for short) was “going crazy” at home one day. “She was running up and down the stairs, barking and yelping” before alerting the woman’s husband that she wanted to go outside, the letter explained. And then, after he let her outside, she “went barreling into the field behind our house at full speed.”
The man followed Peanut into the field, where he was shocked to find “a naked, shivering, 3-year-old girl curled up in a ball.” According to the letter, he immediately picked her up, wrapped her in his sweatshirt, and took her inside where he called 911. Once the ambulance arrived, the terrified toddler could only say one thing — “doggie.”
That story in and of itself is pretty incredible, but Peanut’s owners say they believe it’s just one more sign that their family dog has a “sixth sense” for those in trouble. And that may have been what led her to behave the way she did that fateful morning.
You see, Petunia herself has a tragic backstory: Before she found her forever family, the pup arrived at the Delta Animal Shelter in Michigan in pretty bad shape, with two broken legs, broken ribs, and a belly full of carpet. To make matters worse, they were injuries that occurred at different times, which indicated she had endured ongoing abuse. (A suspicion that was later confirmed, as her former owner was recently convicted of animal abuse.)
But fortunately, Petunia was given a second chance — complete with a new family and a new nickname: Peanut. And her new family is beyond grateful to have her in their lives.
Dogs sure seem to have a special way with children. Studies have shown that they can help children learn, develop empathy, and increase their social and verbal skills; especially in children with autism.
There are also countless heartwarming stories of dogs saving the lives of children, including the viral story of a German Shepherd named Jade, who saved a newborn baby that had been abandoned in a park in England back in 2013. According to the Huffington Post, the dog laid down next to what appeared to be a discarded carrier bag and would not leave its side until the owner came to investigate. When the owner saw the bag move, he thought it may have held kittens — but that’s when he reportedly saw the baby’s “little arms and a head.” The baby was believed to have been only 24-hours old, and would likely have not survived much longer.
As for the little girl Peanut saved, Michigan local news affiliate WLUC reports that deputies went door to door in an attempt to locate the parents of the little girl that Peanut found. They found them at a nearby home and further investigation revealed the home to be unsafe with unsanitary living conditions. Child Protective Services was contacted and later removed the 3-year-old girl along with another young girl from the home.
“Words cannot express how grateful we are that we have Peanut in our lives and how amazing she is,” Peanut’s new owner states in the letter. She also gives credit to the shelter that once took her in, saying:
“She is a part of our family now and thanks to wonderful people like you at the shelter, she is alive. Without her, not only would she have been gone from this world, but the life of this little girl might have been taken as well.”
This heart-tugging story is a true testament to the innate benevolence that dogs seem to possess, and the value of facilities like Delta Animal Shelter that are willing to take in injured and abused animals — animals who may just end up becoming heroes, just like little Peanut.
My only hope is that the innocent little girl Peanut helped save will soon be welcomed into a loving new home herself; preferably one with a dog.