A Hero Named TatorTot: Rescued Pit Bull Saves Boy Days After Adoption

Call it karma. Christi Smith saved a pit bull pup from certain death at the hands of Animal Control. Four days later, the dog repaid her by saving her son’s life.

His name is TatorTot, though it used to be Gator. Smith, who fosters dogs for Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minn., was at first reluctant to take in Gator. She was concerned, based on how his personality had been described, that he might be too energetic for her mellow home.

When it became clear a few weeks later that Ruff Start Rescue wouldn’t be able to rescue any more “bully breeds” until Gator had a foster home, Smith took him in right away.

“I have an understanding of the breed, so I figured I’d work with him and get him adopted fairly quickly,” Smith told twincities.com.

She brought 10-month-old Gator home on Sept. 28 and renamed him TatorTot. He was indeed rambunctious, but that was nothing a good run in the local dog park couldn’t cure. With some good old fashioned exercise, TatorTot became a rather mellow fellow himself, says Smith.

See a video compilation of TatorTot photos here:


After a day or so, Smith began warming up to TatorTot and starting thinking seriously of keeping him. On his fourth night in the Smith home, TatorTot sealed the deal.

Smith’s 4-year-old son, Peyton Anderson, went to bed around 8:30 p.m. His mother says he woke up sometime between midnight and 1:30 a.m. asking for a glass of water. Smith said, ”He was acting weird — really out of it. I chalked it up to being deliriously tired. I wasn’t too concerned.”

TatorTot knew differently, somehow.

“After putting Peyton back to bed, not even 20 minutes later, TatorTot began running back and forth from Peyton to me,” Smith said. “He was barking and acting like something was wrong. I was like, ‘What, didn’t you get enough exercise today? Come lay down, it’s bedtime.’ He didn’t let up.”

Finally, Smith decided to check on her son. “TatorTot was on his bed, barking and pawing at him, licking his face,” she said. “Any normal child would have woken up. He wasn’t waking up.”

Smith realized Peyton was barely breathing. She couldn’t get him to wake up. Terrified, she rushed her son to the hospital, where doctors had to give him an adrenaline shot to revive him. Later, tests revealed Peyton’s blood glucose levels had been dangerously low.

“Peyton’s levels were so low that he could have had a seizure, or fallen into a coma, or even died,” Smith said. ”Medical alert dogs are not uncommon, but they usually have to undergo training. With TatorTot, I just got extremely lucky and blessed that he knew something was wrong.”

It turns out Peyton is not diabetic, so further testing will be necessary to find out why he had this blood sugar incident. In the meantime, TatorTot and Peyton are fast friends. Christi Smith says TatorTot has become a cherished member of her family.

“I am never going to let this dog go,” she said. ”I owe him for the rest of his life. He saved me from the worst heartbreak a human can experience on this Earth; he saved me the heartbreak of losing Peyton.”

Hear that, purveyors of pit bull bans? There’s nothing to fear from this breed, or any breed. Show them love, train them well, and they will love and protect you with everything in their wonderful doggie hearts. Why is that so hard to understand?

October, by the way, is Pit Bull Awareness Month. TatorTot just turned into an excellent ambassador for this noble and loyal breed.

Have a happy life, TatorTot!

Related Stories:

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367 Starved and Shackled Pit Bulls Rescued in Massive Dogfighting Bust

Pit Bulls Have Better Temperament than Average Dog

Photo credit: Anderson-Smith Family


Valentina R.
Valentina R1 years ago

Love Pitbulls!

Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

J.J. van Dongen
J.J. v2 years ago

Wow! What a great dog! So many dogs do awesome things, how can some people hate them so much?????

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 years ago

You are awesome Gator. A hero, great article. Thank you for caring and sharing

Ake Lindberg
Past Member 2 years ago

Gator is a hero!

Amy Thompson
Amy Thompson2 years ago

I love this story! It's so true, that the animals we rescue in actuality save us in many forms. Whether it's through emotional support or more dramatic ways, they repay us tenfold.

Michael Guest
Michael Guest2 years ago

Sometimes, after a dog that is rescued and adopted, it may return the favor, when its family might be in danger and become the rescuer hero, like this one.

Valentina R.
Valentina R2 years ago

If you want a Pitbull, please, don't buy one: the shelters and rescues are filled with handsome, lovable, lively Pits. Too many of them never have a family and are euthanized. Safe a life, give a Pit a home.

Leanne B.
Leanne B3 years ago

Got to love that name "Tator tot". Thanks for sharing this.

Cesia Ovando
Past Member 3 years ago

Good Job ! , thanks