5 Working Dogs That Became Heroes

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Take Your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD), an annual opportunity on the Friday after Father’s Day to not only bring our canine friends to the office, but to celebrate what good companions they are and encourage the adoption of homeless dogs.

Of course, for some dogs, every day is TYDTWD – and I don’t mean those whose owners are lucky enough to have dog-friendly employers. Police, military and other working dogs spend most of their lives keeping us safe, and they should be honored as well on TYDTWD.

Many working dogs have gone far above and beyond the line of duty to save lives. Here are just a few of these four-legged heroes.

1. Sgt. Stubby

Stubby was just a stray when John Robert Conroy rescued him on a Yale University field in 1917. After Conroy smuggled him aboard a ship to France during World War I, Stubby became the most decorated war dog in U.S. history and the only one promoted to sergeant.

Stubby saved many lives by warning troops of mustard gas and crawling under barbed wire to save wounded soldiers.

This year, Stubby was honored with a statue in his home state of Connecticut, and the story of this amazing dog was told in the computer-animated movie Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.

2. Prince

For his heroism during four tours of duty in Vietnam, a Navy SEAL dog named Prince was awarded two Purple Hearts, which are usually only given to humans. Among his many heroic acts were leading his patrol to a stash of hidden enemy weapons and tracking down two Viet Cong leaders hiding in tunnels. The fate of Prince, a former police dog, wasn’t known until recently. Sadly, like so many four-legged heroes of the Vietnam War, Prince never got the retirement he deserved back home in the U.S.

3. Diesel


A French National Police dog, Diesel was trained to use her remarkable sense of smell to detect explosives. After the horrific attacks on Paris in November 2015, the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois was sent ahead of her human partners into an apartment where terrorists were believed to be hiding, in order to assess the situation.

Tragically, Diesel never made it out alive. She was shot and killed by the terrorists, and mourned by animal lovers around the world. For her bravery, Diesel was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal, which is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

4. Riley

Riley’s rambunctious personality didn’t jive with the family who rescued him as a puppy in 2008, so he was surrendered to a rescue group. Ten years later, Riley was one of several search-and-rescue dogs who helped save lives by locating victims of the devastating mudslide in Montecito, Calif., last January.

5. Dexter

Along with his handler, Officer Dave Winans of the San Diego Police Department, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois named Dexter has countless arrests under his collar.

While responding to a 911 call in February, Dexter was stabbed several times by a suspect with a knife. The suspect was apprehended and charged with several crimes, including felony assault of a police dog. Fortunately, after emergency surgery, Dexter fully recovered and is back on the job.

Because of the sacrifice Dexter made to save his fellow officers, this hero dog was a recipient of the 2018 AKC Paw of Courage award.

Photo credit: IVY ERA/YouTube


Marie W
Marie W1 months ago


Irene S
Irene S7 months ago

I don´t really get it. Cart horses pulling carts in an civilised environment they share with millions of people are poor abused animals? And their owners heartless criminals? But war dogs sent to potential or eventually deadly missions are heroes? It´s so easy to abuse the loyalty and joy of working of dogs for aims they do not benefit them. I guess, dogs would much more appreciate an interesting but safe life with their beloved humans than titles, medals and statues.

michela c
michela c7 months ago

Wonderful dogs. Take care of them

Emma Z
Past Member 8 months ago

thanks for posting

Suzanne L
Suzanne L8 months ago

So many dogs have done better by people than people have done by them. All dogs deserve our care and kindness and should never be left behind when they've served their county.

Angeles Madrazo
Angeles M8 months ago

Dogs are amazing! I love them all. Thank you

Chad A
Chad Anderson8 months ago

Thank you.

Nicole Heindryckx
Nicole Heindryckx8 months ago

I really don't know whether I can be so happy and proud about that. First of all, a lot of military dogs were left behind, after the U.S. soldiers went home and nobody knows what became of these dogs. May be they were all killed and eaten. People had few other things to eat. Everything they had, had been bombarded, exploded or burned. So, as our grandparents also ate dogs during and the first years after W.W. II, I bet a lot of these U.S. military dogs also were served with some rice. NO, NO single dog should have been left there. Other soldiers gave their live to get the body of one of his friends to return home, but the dogs were left behind as trash !!

Much to my regret, all nominated dogs were either Military or Police dogs. Of course they can not nominate all brave dogs. But the one who jumped in the water, to save a toddler of 3 years from drowning, is a hero as well. And the dog who attacked a gunned robber, to avoid his boss, the owner of a night shop, to be shot and killed is ALSO a hero. And all the service dogs who are indispensable for the blind or disabled people, who could never live alone in an apartment without their dog... All heroes. There are so many thousands small and big hero dogs in the world. Why not thank them all in calling out ONE DAY in a year, specially for all these service / hero dogs. They all deserve a medal !!

Georgina M

Thank you .Interesting

Roslyn McBride
Roslyn M8 months ago

If a person won't go into a potentially dangerous situation, then don't send a dog in to get killed. Too many dogs who did a good job overseas were left behind, not a good way to treat these animals, at all.