Digging Deeper

One of my favorite parts of writing is doing the research. I love picking up the thread of an idea and seeing where my research takes me. Right now I’m doing a lot of reading about animal heroes: creatures that were so brave or brilliant they made us rethink what animals can do.

One of the most thrilling stories of animal heroism is that of Cher Ami. He saved almost 200 American lives during World War I. And can you believe he was…a pigeon? Not only that, he was the last homing pigeon the battalion had left; he was literally their only hope of survival. Although he was badly wounded by enemy gunfire, Cher Ami managed to deliver the message that saved an entire battalion. You can click here to read more about this unlikely hero and his unbelievable story.

Sergeant Stubby, another veteran of World War I, is the first dog to be given rank in the U.S. Armed Forces. He served in seventeen battles, saving countless men from gas attacks and helping paramedics find wounded soldiers. He even caught a German spy! Click here to read more about how this sweet-tempered stray dog became one of the most celebrated heroes of WWI.

If you don’t know about Alex the parrot, you have to watch this video!


Alex was an African grey parrot who spent thirty years showing us the complexity of animal minds. He was a scientific celebrity, and when he passed away in 2007, full-page obituaries appeared in major newspapers and magazines all over the world.

Service dogs are excellent examples of everyday animal heroes. One of my favorite assistance dogs is Endal, who helped Alan Parton rebuild his life after he was injured in the Gulf War. You can see a short video of Alan and Endal here.

Birds and dogs aren’t the only heroic animals out there. Buzzfeed has a fun list of all kinds of extraordinary animals saving people. (Spoiler alert: Some of them are lions!)

Do you have any heroic animal stories to share? I’d love to hear from you!