All dogs go to heaven, but they don’t all get medals of honor.
Whizz, a Newfoundland who died this month at the age of 12, was honored with a posthumous award by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a U.K.-based veterinary charity, for his lifesaving work. The Newfoundland dog, seven, weighs 12 stone and is 6ft tall when standing on his hind legs, and is considered the number one water rescue dog in the world.
The canine served as a water rescue dog, working with the Royal Navy Rescue, the Severn Area Rescue Association and Marine Volunteer Service, according to a news release from PDSA. During his rescue career, he saved nine people and one fellow dog from drowning.
Toni Curtis, who Whizz rescued when she had an asthma attack at the beach in 2011, described the experience in a statement.
“I was sure that nobody would see me and panic really set in,” she said. “The next thing I knew I heard a muffled voice, telling me to ‘grab the dog’ and before I knew it, I was being pulled to the safety of the lifeboat. Whizz had saved me and I will be forever in his debt.”
Newfoundlands often make excellent water rescue dogs not only because of their strength and large size, but also because of their webbed toes that help them swim.
PDSA’s Order of Merit honors “animals that display outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society, above and beyond normal companionship,” according to the site. Since 2014, they’ve honored 10 police horses and two dogs.