The residential street in Aledo, Texas, was quiet. But suddenly Calamity Jane stiffened and bolted toward a neighbor’s home, growling and barking furiously. The other dogs, alarmed, began barking too, though they stayed in their yard as they’d been trained to do. Pauley was taken aback; the dog was usually so docile that she hadn’t even bothered to put her on a leash. “Calamity Jane just picked up on something, and charged over there,” Pauley says. Noticing that her neighbors had company—there were cars parked outside—Pauley worried about disturbing them. She grabbed the dog’s collar and pulled her into the yard next to the driveway. As she did, she heard car doors slam and saw a car speed away. What Pauley didn’t know was that inside the house, Judy Kolman, 59, and her husband Steve had been preparing to bid goodnight to seven guests, including two children, when a gun-wielding man in a ski mask burst in. Herding them into the living room, the gunman shouted at them and beat Steve, while two accomplices ransacked the home, taking jewelry, electronics, and a coin collection.
Suddenly aware of the racket outside, the gunman contacted his getaway car using his cellphone set on speaker. “There’s people outside,” Kolman heard the lookout say. The men fled, leaving the family and their guests shaken. (The men were later apprehended and are now serving jail time.) “Who knows what might have happened,” Kolman says, if Calamity Jane hadn’t raised the alarm. Only after Kolman ran next door to ask Pauley’s help in calling police did Pauley learn what had happened.
Pauley speculates that her dog, a victim of violence herself, might be more sensitive to disturbing sounds or movements than her other dogs. Since foiling the home invasion, Calamity Jane has returned to her mild-mannered ways and now volunteers as a therapy dog, visiting patients at local hospitals.
Charley, neighborhood watch dog
Frances Gippert, a travel manager who works from home in Loganville, Ga., became annoyed at her dog Charley one afternoon in August 2008. Well before he normally would need to go outside, “he kept coming up to me, tapping my arm, barking like crazy,” says Gippert, 48. “I need it quiet, because I’m constantly on the phone.”
Finally, she relented and snapped on Charley’s leash. Though the West Highland terrier’s habit was to visit a spot across the street, this time he pulled Gippert in the opposite direction, to a spot three houses away, and began barking furiously. “I knew something was wrong,” Gippert says.
Sure enough, when she looked closely into the yard, she spotted a man lying in some bushes. Gippert grabbed Charley and ran home to call 911, then returned to stay with the man while awaiting the ambulance. “He was semiconscious,” she says.
The man was Roy Monie, who owns and rents out the house and had stopped by to do some maintenance on the roof. “I know I shouldn’t have been doing it alone,” he says. While climbing from a lower roof to an upper roof, he lost his balance and fell, hitting his head before landing in the shrubbery below. He lay there for more than two hours, drifting in and out of consciousness. “Charley raised a ruckus,” he says. “He really was a lifesaver.”
Monie suffered serious injuries in the fall, including a collapsed lung and a cracked rib, and spent a week in the hospital. “It’s amazing,” says Monie, 64, “that a dog could have heard something from at least 200 feet away and interpreted it as danger.” Monie now counts Charley as a fast friend.
Jake, rescue swimmer
It was a warm day in June 2008, and Diane Bailey and her family were spending it at their cabin on the Platte River near Omaha, Neb. While she was absorbed in preparing a picnic, Bailey’s then 12-year-old son, Tony, headed to the river to wade. The water looked waist-high at most.