Canine and Feline Stories of Unmistakable Love and Healing

There is way too much negativity in the news today! I stopped watching the news several years ago as everything was so depressing. Who wants to watch that before bed? Who wants to start their day with this constant negativity? The truth is there is a lot of things going on in the world that is positive, encouraging, courageous, loving, and kind. I have personal experience with amazing stories of how my feline and canine family saved our lives many times over with no special training. I’ll share some stories about that below. First, I wanted to share eight special canine and feline stories of unmistakable love and healing. It’s time for some positivity!

Dog Tracks Owner to Hospital 20 Blocks Away and Walks Right In

Sissy, a 10-year old Miniature Schnauzer, escaped her house and walked nearly 20 blocks to a Cedar Rapids hospital where her owner was recovering from cancer-related surgery.  “She was on a mission,” owner Nancy Franck told KWWL-TV.  Surveillance cameras showed her marching right into the hospital lobby. She walked through the hallways searching for her owner.  The hospital allowed the dog to visit with Nancy, giving much needed comfort, before a family member took her home. You can see the whole story here.


A Cat Who Loved a Soldier in Combat Gets Saved Right Back

His relationship with a kitten got Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott through one of his “darkest times” while serving in Afghanistan. When Knott’s tour ended, he returned the favor, going to great lengths to bring Kashka to live out his years in the US as a beloved friend. Watch the heartwarming 2013 video above from CNN.

Dog Saves Owner’s Life By Barking at Passing Motorists After Stroke

A man has vowed to ‘stop moaning at the dog’ after his labrador-collie mix assured him a speedy recovery following a stroke. When Arthur McGarvey, 74, collapsed in a field, the dog started barking and running around like he was mad, prompting drivers to immediately stop and investigate.  That quick response may have saved his life, and assured that he would not develop more lasting effects. You can see the entire story here.

Pit Bull Hailed a Hero After Saving Boy From Bees

An Oregon City family is calling their pit bull a hero after it saved an 8-year-old boy from a swarm of bees. A group of children were playing near a creek and one of them unleashed a swarm of bees by stepping on a rotten log. Most of the kids got away but Jesse Shaver was being repeatedly stung and had trouble making it up the hill. Fortunately, his dog Hades dragged the boy up the slope to the grass and, once there, let him mount her.  “She let me crawl on her back and took me to my mom,” Jesse told Fox 12. “I’m so glad we adopted her,” said Jesse’s mom, who was “astonished to see the dog dragging her son to safety.”

Dog Hailed As Hero After Alerting Deaf Teen to Fire

A deaf 13 year-old boy was asleep and alone in his Indianapolis home when a fire broke out. His pit bull repeatedly licked his face until he reluctantly woke up and was able to escape unharmed along with Ace, now hailed as a hero. Here’s the full story!


Dog Saves Owner From Choking to Death on a Sweet

We reported on another dog in April that jumped on her companion while she was choking, creating a Heimlich maneuver-like rescue. Turns out, this type of miracle isn’t so rare. Within a few weeks, Rachel Hayes was doubled over gasping for breath when her worried springer spaniel hit her on the back and dislodged the strawberry pastille stuck in her throat. She had been pushing Mollypops away, but the animal persevered. “She came up behind me put her paws on me and bashed on my back with such force the sweet came out,” she told the Mirror.  Ms. Hayes thought she would die right there in her kitchen, and says her beloved dog now has a new name, Hero.

Dog Sniffs Out Cancer, Saves Owner by ‘Crying near breast lump’

A 46-year-old British mother was saved when her beloved pet, Ted, wouldn’t stop crying and nudging at a specific spot in her breast. The border collie’s cries and sniffing alerted Josie Conlan to the fact that it could be something serious. She’d heard that pets have the ability to smell cancer. She went to the doctor and they found it was early-stage cancer, reports the Teeside Gazette.  “Ted is the most incredible gift to our lives. People say I rescued him and now he has rescued me.”


Hero Cat Jumps in Box to Keep Abandoned Russian Baby Warm

A homeless cat named Masha has become a neighborhood hero after she kept warm a baby boy who was dropped off in an apartment building hallway amid frigid Russia temperatures.  The baby, estimated to be 2-3 months old, was left in Masha’s cardboard box, and the feline was only too happy to snuggle for several hours until daybreak when he began meowing loudly to alert neighbors in the city of Obninsk.  When the baby, who was later deemed fit and healthy, was carried to the ambulance, neighbors say Masha “followed him and pitifully meowed and tried to jump into the ambulance to follow the boy.”  The mama cat then “sat for hours on the road waiting for the car to return and bring him back, neighbors said.” Read the whole story here.


In my book, “Healing Through the Chaos,” I share the experience and story of being thrust into a care giving role for both of my parents for illness and injury, simultaneously and unexpectedly at the young age of 41. In this story, I share glimpses into how our dogs contributed to my parents’ recovery and healing. Never in a million years would I have anticipated what would happen next and how they would partner with me in the care giving process.

Roxy, pictured above, saved my parent’s lives on several occasions. Colonel, pictured below,  was our silent partner and, he too, quietly provided needed support, primarily for my dad, while Roxy was the verbal one to get our attention when things went wrong.  I first noticed these abilities when Roxy and Colonel would constantly sniff my mother’s right breast. They favored this part of her body. This is where she had breast cancer. After moving my parents into our home, my mom moved in first, then my dad later, after he was released from six months in hospitals, both dogs seemed protective of my mom. They sat next to her, lay at her feet and constantly sniffed her right breast.  After her breast cancer surgery, they had a heightened sense of awareness about my mom’s pain through recovery. They seemed respectful and gentle of her physical body; still sniffing ever so obsessively. Roxy would occasionally come to me and bark incessantly. When I got up and followed her, she led me to my mom. Undoubtedly, my mom needed help with something; whether it be a glass of water to take her pain medicine, a blanket or a myriad of other things.


Wow, I thought. I have smart dogs. They haven’t even been trained yet but they sure can smell cancer. Fascinating. After my mom’s radiation treatments, the dogs sniffed for a week or so and then, as quickly as they started sniffing and being obsessed with my mom, they stopped. No more sniffing of her breast. I didn't need any doctor telling me my mom's cancer was gone! I had my dogs! Click To Tweet My dogs told me and I was relieved she wouldn’t need chemotherapy. Doctors previously advised us that if she did end up needing chemo, they would have to weigh the options because with my mom’s already poor health she would probably not survive chemo treatments. One hurdle down!


After 6 months in and out of hospitals, my dad gained strength enough to walk with a walker and with assistance. As he gained more strength and confidence and walked alone with his walker around the house, I noticed Colonel following my dad everywhere. Being a Great Dane, he’s no little dog and easily was perceived as getting in his way. My dad, never being one to mince words when he is angry, would say, among other things, “Damn Dog” repeatedly. He said it so often, I’m surprised Colonel didn’t think that was his new name! When my dad would sit on the couch or in a chair, Colonel would lay at his feet (when he wasn’t laying at my feet or following me around). When my dad got up, there was Colonel up and ready to get in his way. Seriously though, Colonel would walk next to my dad or just ahead of him. Then, it happened. My dad got dizzy and lost his balance. What did my dad grab to keep from falling? That’s right, Colonel! Colonel would stop in his tracks when my dad leaned on him or touch his back in any way, turn his head around, look at my dad and wait until my dad reoriented himself or one of us came to help him. Then, Colonel turned his head forward and continued next to or slightly in front of my dad until the next stop. Once my dad was in bed each night, Colonel thought his job was done. That’s where Roxy picked up. What great partners Roxy and Colonel were. No matter where Roxy was in the house, when my dad got up at night to go to the bathroom, which was a frequent event, Roxy ran to his side and followed him to the bathroom. She laid down outside the bathroom door waiting for him and followed him back to bed. Once he was tucked in, Roxy went back to what she was doing. On numerous occasions, when Roxy felt my dad was in the bathroom a little too long or sensed something was wrong, she would come and get me. I knew the routine and would go check on him. Sometimes, he was just camping out reading a book. Other times he was about to have a seizure.

One night, out of the blue, my dad had his first grand mal seizure. He had mild seizures while in the hospital but I never saw a grand mal seizure in my life. It’s probably one of the scariest things to witness and I’m sure even scarier to experience as a patient. When my dad was in bed, I noticed Roxy licking my dad’s hand. Then, she got on their bed and started licking my dad’s face. She started crying and walking back and forth on their bed. As she howled and cried, my daughter, Amanda, who was sleeping on our couch in the other room at the time, heard Roxy and literally jumped over the back of the couch and ran to my dad’s bed side. I was about three seconds behind her. Together, we did the best we could to keep him calm. None of us had any training on seizure management. We got him through this terrifying experience. There would be many more like it. Each time, Roxy alerting us just before my dad’s seizures and a few times, alerting us as they were happening.

Roxy would also alert me when my parents’ blood sugar levels were extremely low. She would always lick my dad’s hand and face; trying to wake him up. She did the same with my mom.

Another night a few months later, my dad seemed more confused and disoriented than usual. He wasn’t getting around much and slept most of the day. He seemed to be fading in and out of consciousness. He couldn’t talk most of the evening. I could tell the words were in there somewhere; he just couldn’t verbally express them. After undressing him, getting him to the bathroom, giving him eggs to eat and his evening medication, I tucked him into bed. Around 8am, I got up to check on him and he seemed OK. I returned to my bedroom to lay back down for a bit. About 8 minutes later, Roxy came running into my room, sat at my bedside and whined and cried. She kept going from my bed to my bedroom door and back and forth again and again. After about 3 times of this and seeing she wasn’t stopping, I got up to see what she was fussing about. I said, “Show me, Roxy”. She took me to my parent’s bed. As I peeled around the corner, I saw Roxy immediately jumped on their bed and started crying over my dad; incessantly licking his face. My dad’s blood sugar was extremely low, his pulse was weak and he was completely unresponsive. His body was cold to the touch and he started foaming at the mouth. We immediately called 911 and he spent a week at the hospital again. This time, it took about three days for him to regain consciousness and get his seizures under control. Given his blood sugar and pulse, I’m certain my dad would have died that morning had Roxy not alerted us to my dad’s condition.


When my mom was in a nursing/rehabilitation home recovering from a broken ankle, I took Roxy to visit. The thing to know about Roxy is she is high energy and loves, loves, loves to lick and jump up on people. She doesn’t discriminate, either. Age, gender, size, color, religion, ethnicity… If you are human, she wants to say hello. After all, it’s her favorite thing! One day when Roxy and I were visiting my mom, other patients smiled as we walked down the hall. I was so proud of Roxy for restraining herself and staying on the floors rather than jumping on patient beds. She let the patients pet her and she licked their hands. She brought much happiness to people that day. Then, in the hallway was a blind woman standing still. She had a cane and a companion standing next to her helping her around. They stopped to admire Roxy. The blind woman had a smile on her face as she bent down at her waist to pet her. I’ll admit I was a little, OK a lot, nervous, about whether Roxy would jump on her and perhaps catch her off balance or jump up to her face. I was so impressed and proud that Roxy just sat at this woman’s feet and let the woman pet her. She didn’t even TRY jumping on her. Somehow, she must have known this woman was different somehow and this impacted how she responded to this woman who had a smile on her face from cheek to cheek. I am continually amazed how Roxy’s behavior naturally adjusts to the needs of others.

There are countless more examples of how Roxy and Colonel saved me and my parents. I never want to live without at least one dog with me. Unfortunately, we had to put Colonel to sleep almost six months ago and not a day goes by that we don’t think of our gentle giant. I’m writing a book about my experience with my cats and dogs and how they have helped our family. If you have a story to share, I’d love to hear it!

Remember, if a dog were the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.





It’s your turn: Are you a cat person, dog person or other animal person? Have you experienced the healing power of canines, felines or other animals? Please share below!




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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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18 replies
  1. Ruth Bowers
    Ruth Bowers says:

    Dogs are so amazing! They are way more intelligent than many people give them credit for. It’s always been a dream of mine to build a shelter for big dogs and train them as therapy dogs.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Another dog lover!! That’s awesome that you trained search and rescue dogs, Kim. That’s SO cool! Your story is also neat. Dogs are absolutely amazing!

  2. Francene Stanley
    Francene Stanley says:

    What a wonderful article. The story about the pit bul raised the hair on my arms. Today, I blogged about my missing cat, and how she walked 50 miles to return home over thirty years ago. Animals are wonderful


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