Picture this scenario. You are taking your dog for a short walk at the end of your yard that leads onto a canal. It’s dark but that doesn’t bother you or your dog, even though you are fully aware that the waters just meters from the path are popular with alligators.
This was a regular evening for 85 year-old Ruth Gay. Living in LaBelle, Southwest Florida with her Australian Blue Heeler named ‘Blue’, the two often took a short stroll around 9pm for the dog to do his business.
However, one night in the summer of 2001 Ruth slipped on the wet grass while taking that walk. She broke her nose and dislocated her shoulder and was unable to move to get help. She yelled out into the night, while Blue lay by her side.
But no one came. Despite the fact Ruth shared the house with her daughter and son-in-law – Sylvia and Albert Gibson – the couple were out and she did know when they would be back.
Laying in the dark, broken and bruised was bad enough but suddenly the dog started growling and Ruth heard something move from the water’s edge.
Blue then leapt into the darkness. As if fitted with the best thermal imaging technology available, the dog began searching the night for the unseen attacker.
It turns out, Ruth’s calls for help had attracted the attention of an alligator and it had climbed up the embankment close to where she lay helpless.
Ruth couldn’t see what was going on, but she heard as the dog ambushed the gator. Blue was barking, growling and yelping as the fight took place.
The dog was obviously getting hurt in the battle, and then it all went quiet. Ruth immediately feared the worse. However, despite suffering numerous bites and puncture wounds to his stomach, Blue had successfully deterred the reptile.
Not only that, after ensuring the gator was safely away, Blue heard a car pull up at the front of the house and hurried across to get help.
It was Sylvia and Albert returning home:
“He was going wild, barking and jumping. He led me right to her,” said Albert.
The Gibson’s took Ruth to the hospital where she remained for six weeks, recuperating from shoulder surgery.
The couple took Blue to a Fort Myers, Florida animal clinic where he required surgery to repair the wounds. Both Ruth and Blue fully recovered from their injuries.
“He’s a little dog and fast like lightning,” said Dr. Terry Terlep, whose coworker treated Blue. “He was trying to fend off this animal and he’s so fast he could get out of the way. It’s amazing what an animal will do in a time of need. He’s a pretty brave dog.”
Blue ended up winning the Heinz 47th Dog Hero of the Year in 2001 for his heroic actions. The dog is cited as saving his 85-year-old owner from an alligator attack and surviving numerous injuries from the dangerous encounter.
A very brave dog indeed.
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