So many potential dog owners have their hearts set on a purebred or a designer dog. They have such a particular idea of what their pet should look like that they wall themselves off from other possibilities. Do they have any idea on what they’re missing?
In 2019, one English teenager went against the crowd and looked into adopting a canine that was anything but ordinary. He hoped his friends and family would respect his decision. But even more so, he hoped this new dog could help him defeat his own personal demons.
Raising Labradors was just another day in the office for this breeder in Kent, England. When he came across one litter in 2019, however, the sight was nearly enough to make him run for the hills.
Mountain Run Kennel
It was an overstatement to say that this litter was a disaster; each pup was technically healthy. But one was unusual enough that the breeder doubted she’d ever find a home. Would anybody prove him wrong?
Meanwhile, Luke Salmon of nearby Orpington was having another tough day. The fifteen-year-old felt alone, helpless, and very sure that he didn’t want to go back to school the next day. Still, he didn’t have much choice.
He knew school was important for his future, but a couple of his classmates made the experience a living hell. These bullies tormented Luke every day, taunting and humiliating him just because he was a little bit different.
In the grand scheme of things, what set Luke apart was remarkably minor. He suffered from psoriasis, a condition that formed itchy, scaly patches on the skin. But the bullies latched onto this disease and wouldn’t let Luke forget about it.
His mom, Lauren, tried to look out for him, but Luke needed more than a maternal figure to cheer him up. He needed a consummate friend and ally. That realization got him thinking one night.
Taking a break from his homework, Luke began surfing the internet for dogs. There were more adoption websites than he could keep track of. He was almost ready to close his browser when one photograph made him stop cold.
On his screen, Luke beheld a Black Lab — just a few weeks old. But he’d never seen a dog quite like this before in his life. This pooch had six legs, with an extra pair protruding from the front.
Luke mentioned the six-legged canine to his mom, who was becoming increasingly worried about his well-being. She hadn’t seen her son so excited about something in quite awhile, so Lauren knew exactly what she had to do.
With that, the extra-limbed Labrador became part of the Salmon household. Any doubts that the novelty factor of the canine would wear out soon vanished. She seemed just as fun and easygoing as any other dog.
The instant they met, Luke and the Lab became inseparable. She followed him all around the house and slept on his bed every night. However, there was still the matter of her name.
Luke and Lauren sought out some inspiration. One of the dog’s most distinct characteristics was her habit of hopping along on her hind legs, while holding her front four in the air. It kind of reminded them of another animal…
The Salmons realized the pup moved around just like a kangaroo! With that, she officially became Roo. She seemed as happy as could be but, naturally, raised a lot of questions from friends and neighbors.
After just one encounter with Roo, however, it was clear to everyone that she could do just about anything any other dog could. Maybe her physical limitations kept her a little less active, but the extra legs weren’t hurting anything.
Still, Lauren did ponder various options to improve Roo’s quality of life. She’d seen videos of dog wheelchairs that could help their pooch walk and run more comfortably. But before she did anything drastic, Lauren wanted an expert opinion.
K9 of Mine
She reached out to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, star of the TV program The Supervet, about sizing up Roo. But whether he makes a house call or not, the Salmon family isn’t too worried about their newest addition.
“Her special legs don’t cause her any pain, and it’s easy to see just how full of life she is,” said Lauren, adding, “There are not many dogs like Roo out there.”
And this one-of-a-kind furry friend fit right in with the other animals of the Salmon household. Roo befriended their Jack Russell terrier, two cats, and gigantic French Lop rabbits. Still, Roo knows who her best friend is.
She’ll always be closest to the boy who saved her from homelessness. Though she saved him as well. “Luke feels like the odd one out because of his condition, and now he’s got a best friend to match,” Lauren explained.
After all, you can never underestimate a dog just because he’s a little bit different. One Australian family felt eternally grateful that they had Max by their side during a moment of crisis. Nobody could’ve expected him to step up the way he did.
In 2018, the Australian Cattle Dog — also known as a Blue Heeler — reached 17 years of age! It showed on him, too. Max had become partially blind and completely lost his hearing.
Gold Coast Bulletin
But that was okay; he still had a loving family. His favorite member was three-year-old Aurora, and he acted as her consummate companion and playmate. Max had watched over her since she was a newborn, after all.
Aurora lived happily with her grandmother Leisa and her uncle Jake, who took great care of Max as well. In their isolated area of Warwick, Queensland, they really only had each other to rely on.
While Jake and Leisa were busy working or doing chores around the house, Aurora liked to play in the yard. She never strayed far from the windows, so her older relatives didn’t worry about her being out by herself.
Besides, Max usually tagged along on Aurora’s outdoor adventures. Having lost a step or two in his advanced age, he often lagged a bit behind. The Blue Heeler never lost sight of the girl, however — until one April afternoon.
For whatever reason, Aurora wandered far beyond her usual circuit that day. Maybe she was chasing a bug through the tall grass, or simply made a wrong turn. Either way, she didn’t realize she’d gotten off track.
But when she finally took in her surroundings, Aurora understood exactly what kind of predicament she was in. Her house was nowhere in sight. She was utterly alone. With a gasping sob, the little girl collapsed to the unforgiving ground.
Not long after, Leisa noticed that Aurora wasn’t out in the yard. She must’ve come inside to play, the grandmother figured. However, the girl wasn’t in her room either. Holding back panic, Leisa notified the police.
Paul Matthew Carr
Within hours, the police assembled a search party to track down Aurora. Dozens of volunteers came out from around Warwick, but with hundreds of acres of ground to cover, would they be enough?
The Daily Examiner
The team scoured the Australian countryside, but with no success. As night fell, rain and sleet came down, making tracking the little girl even more challenging. Even if they didn’t say it out loud, Leisa and Jake’s hopes began to dwindle.
What the search party didn’t realize, however, was that they weren’t the only ones on Aurora’s trail. Max also set off to find her shortly after she disappeared. With his dulled senses, the Blue Heeler would have to operate on pure intuition.
The Australian wilderness posed a number of threats to both Max and Aurora. Aside from the obvious dangers of exposure and starvation, the environment was chock-full of predators. One sudden snake bite would stop him in his tracks.
But, against all odds, Max came across Aurora! She gave him a big hug, and then the two of them huddled against a rock for warmth. They could only hope help would arrive soon.
National Park Service
The next morning, Leisa was almost despondent. She’d split off from the other searchers to probe the deepest vegetation. She called out Aurora’s name every few seconds, desperate for a response. There was no response.
But then she called out again, and, from far away, heard a faint voice. Suddenly energized, Leisa turned toward a nearby hill where she’d heard the sound. As she ran up, shouting out for Aurora, Max miraculously popped out to greet his owners.
Leisa called Jake over, and the two of them followed the elderly dog uphill. Too excited to question why her 17-year-old dog had appeared, she followed him. Her jaw dropped when he led her and Jake directly to Aurora. She grabbed her granddaughter in a bear hug!
Still, the family wasn’t out of the woods yet. After spending 15 hours out in the elements, they had to make sure the little girl wasn’t in any more danger. Leisa and Jake called in the paramedics to examine the three-year-old.
Though it was hard to believe, Aurora was virtually unscathed from her time out in the open. A warm meal and a couple of days rest would set her right. Of course, she probably never would’ve survived if her half-blind dog hadn’t tracked her down.
The entire town of Warwick hailed Max as a hero, and the authorities even named him an honorary police canine! Nobody expected it, but this old dog learned more than a few new tricks.
Pups prove time and time again they truly are our best friends. Amelia, for instance, who was deaf just like Max, found that out herself. The Tennessee native constantly pushed herself to do the extreme — and on one occasion, she needed some help.
John Garay / Facebook
See, in the summer of 2017 Amelia spent time hiking through and camping in the gorgeous national parks offered out west — nothing too serious. In 2018, though, she planned to outdo herself.
On June 19, 2018, Amelia packed her bags—including an emergency tracker device her mother insisted she bring—and headed to Chugach State Park, right, an expanse of rocky mountain and serene rivers about 30 miles east of Anchorage, Alaska.
There, she hiked on her own along winding mountain paths, which, she noted, taxed her far more than she’d expected. As a Southerner, she hadn’t considered there’d still be snow in June. So she changed her plans.
On the second day of her trip, she descended into the Eagle River Valley. Just four miles into the hike, her walking sticks snapped in two. She slid for 300 feet, smashed into a boulder, then fell another 400 feet down a snowy, gradual slope.
The 21-year-old ended up bleeding and broken, looking up at the mountains—a very dramatic moment. Facing death, the only thing she could think of was that her dream vacation was over. Then she saw something terrifying.
A wolf “appeared out of no where,” and watched her in her state of weakness. Hardly able to stand—and with no one around—she stood no chance against a wolf. But then, she noticed something around the animal’s neck that gave her relief.
What she thought was a wolf wore a bone tag that read “Crow Pass Guide,” along with an address. It was then she knew this was no wolf, but a white husky named Nanook. He’d come to rescue her.
Nanook “gave me the motivation to get up and walk,” Amelia said. So she did just that. With the white husky at her side, she walked back to the trail. When night fell, she set up a tent and invited Nanook inside. The dog declined.
But the dog didn’t go anywhere. “I realized he really was sticking with me when he greeted me in the morning when I unzipped my tent,” Amelia said. “He had stayed the entire night next to me.” He offered more help, too.
Along the trail, Amelia and Nanook encountered the Eagle River crossing: a roiling, swirling, and freezing point of the river. Amelia tried twice to cross it. On the second time, she slipped, and the water pulled her under.
After 15 minutes caught in the swell, Amelia bolted back toward the shore. Nanook had grabbed her backpack and pulled her to safety. Afraid of hypothermia, Amelia curled up into her sleeping bag. There, Nanook kept licking her face.
In fact, he licked her face until she remembered the emergency tracker her mother made her take on the hike. When prompted by Nanook, she activated it, sending alerts to Alaska State Troopers.
Several hours later, trained rescue workers descended on her location in a helicopter before scooping the miserable Amelia and her canine companion up. Rescuers brought Amelia to an Anchorage hospital.
Alaska State Troopers / Facebook
When Amelia recounted her story, the troopers were floored. “Nookie was nothing short of a modern-day Lassie hero,” one rescuer, Alaska State Trooper Lt. Eric Olsen, said. Inspired by the pooch, Lieutenant Olsen personally brought the dog home.
There, the trooper met Scott Swift, Nanook’s owner, left. When he heard what his dog had been up to the past 24 hours? “I was definitely pretty floored,” he said. “It sends chills up my spine when I think about it. I certainly didn’t train him to do anything like this.”
Scott continued, “It’s a pretty powerful feeling that this dog had this instinctual ability to want to go help people.” The state of Alaska recognized that, too, and gave Nanook a special honor for his work…
For his heroics, Nanook was made an honorary Alaska State Trooper! The “free spirit” dog would no doubt look good in the uniform. Amelia couldn’t have been happier for her savior.
Amelia recovered in Anchorage and actually continued the dream vacation she once thought would end violently. She did, however, take plenty of time away from hiking to spoil Nanook with lots and lots of treats!