We've discussed the Dickin medal before - Britain's medal for animal bravery, the country's equivalent of the Victoria Cross for animals who serve in military or police duties. This article discusses the awarding of the Gold medal, the equivalent for "civilian" animals.
Frodo is a five-year-old beagle who likes barking, climbing out of windows, hurtling along his local beach like a mad thing, gobbling up leftover T-bone steaks, chewing through anything he can get his paws on, and generally being 'very, very naughty'.
He is also one of the most courageous dogs in the country.
In 2008, he saved his owner Jenny Barwise, her parents David and Annette, and her fiance Liam Towers from certain death when the family home in St Bees, Cumbria, burnt down.
And today, in front of a huge crowd of important dignitaries, TV crews from around the world and his doting mistress Jenny, naughty Frodo will be presented with the highest award for civilian animal bravery - the canine equivalent of the George Cross - by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, at the Tower of London.
Next to him - panting and straining on her lead and full of exuberant bounce - will be five-year-old German shepherd Anya.
Anya is a police dog who, according to her handler PC Neil Sampson, is 'big, clumsy - like a bull in a china shop - never downcast, very enthusiastic and just fantastic'.
Anya is a lifesaver, too. In January 2008, she threw herself between PC Sampson and a criminal wielding a 6in knife. She was stabbed deep in the chest - narrowly missing her vital organs - but came back for more, desperate to protect her handler as knife blows rained down on them both.
'I have absolutely no doubt she saved my life,' says PC Sampson, 50. 'For all her pretty looks, she's very, very determined.'
A third dog - a Staffordshire bull terrier called Oi - is also being honoured, but sadly she's not here to collect her award.
When a gang armed with machetes forced their way into her family's home in Thamesmead, London, brave Oi intervened. During the next few bloody minutes, one family member was injured and Oi received crushing blows to the head as she chased the gang away.
The trio follow in the pawprints of 15 other dogs who've been awarded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Gold Medal since its inception in 2001 - including three police explosives dogs who were honoured for their life-saving work in the aftermath of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in London in 2005.
To qualify, the animals (to date, all recipients have been dogs) must either have been instrumental in saving human or animal lives when their own lives were in danger, or to have demonstrated an outstanding devotion to duty.
The award is the civilian version of the Dickin Medal, or animal Victoria Cross, which since 1943 has been awarded to 27 dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, three horses and a cat called Simon.
Is there any such medal for animals in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world?
To read the complete article, see:
Where beagles dare! He eats shoes and jumps out of windows... but Frodo's owners don't care - they owe their lives to his courage
Wayne Homren, Editor
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