There are plenty of stories of dogs performing acts of heroism, saving their guardians from house fires, wild animals and other dangers. But the story of Shana, a wolf and German Shepherd mix and her rescue of Eve and Norman Fertig one fall night, stands out as one of the most remarkable acts of loyalty and heroic bravery of a dog, ever.
Back in 2006, the Fertigs, both 81 years old, were tending to the injured animals in their forested animal sanctuary in Alden, New York as part of their nightly routine when a massive storm hit suddenly. The power went out in their aviary and Eve realized something was wrong. They went outside to see what was happening and saw trees toppling and heavy snow falling. The couple was unprepared for the elements as neither had warm clothes on since it had just been a clear, crisp fall day just a few hours ago. Exposed to the freezing cold, they hugged each other for warmth as temperatures dropped rapidly and trees continued to fall around them. Said Eve, "I wasn't prepared for this … I thought, 'we're trapped, we're absolutely trapped,'" Eve said.
The Fertigs huddled in a narrow alley between their hospital building and the aviary, where they were sheltered from falling trees. But they couldn't climb over the trees without injuring themselves, and the path to their home was blocked by the collapsed trees. She turned to her husband and said, 'Norman, we can't stay here, we'll die." Luckily they had Shana with them.
Shana was Eve and Norman’s rescue from a puppy mill. They got her when she was only two-weeks-old and sick. That had been seven years earlier, and now the 160-pound dog would be their savior. Shana began digging a path in the snow with her teeth and claws underneath the fallen trees. After two hours, she had dug a 1-foot-wide tunnel 20 feet back to their home.
Shana then came back and barked at them to follow her. At first Norm was reluctant: "I had enough in Okinawa in a foxhole," referring to his service in World War II. Eve retorted "'Norman, if you do not follow me, I will get a divorce,'" Married for 62 years the words caught Norm’s attention. "That did it. He said, 'a divorce? That would scandal our family.' I said, 'all of our family is dead, Norman!'"
Shana grabbed the sleeve of Eve’s jacket and Eve grabbed hold of her, climbing onto her back and holding onto her neck. Norman grabbed Eve's legs, and the dog pulled the two of them through her makeshift tunnel, under the trees to an opening in the fence near their home. They arrived at the fence around 2 a.m. in the morning "It was quite a distance," Eve said. "We get out and she pulls us out. We got on the back deck, got the back door open and we fell inside. And we laid there all night." As their home had no electricity and no heat, Shana lay ontop of them, heating them like a portable furnace until the following morning when the local fire department arrived.
"It was the most heroic thing I've ever seen in my life," Eve said. "She kept us alive. She really did," Eve said.
Shana later received a fire helmet from the local fire department and the Humane Animal Treatment's Hero's Award for Bravery, an award given to humans.
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