There I was prone on the trail, the skin scraped from my knees and palms. I clutched my throbbing ankle between my hands. My dog, a loyal doberman I’d adopted from a shelter a few years before, poked my face with his nose. “I’m okay, buddy,” I said.
I stood, gently placing my sore foot on the ground. Pain shot up my leg. I was far from okay. I hadn’t brought my cell, and I was in the woods, on a desolate rocky trail, one or two miles from home. I began hopping on one foot, my dog slowly trotting by my side.
As I made forward progress, I looked at my dog and wondered, Could I train you to help me during a time like this? That led to other thoughts: Would he defend me against a wild animal? Or a human? Could he, if the need arose, save my life?
The answer to those questions, I’ve since learned, is this: Most definitely, and your dog could save you, too. Here are the real-life stories and training advice to prove it.