The Brousseau family from Portland, Connecticut, consists of a husband, a wife, two kids and the family dog – and they are fast becoming an internet sensation. However, it’s perhaps the least likely member of the family that they have to thank for their newfound stardom. Yes, this is the story of a dog who saved the day.
That dog’s name is Duke. When the Brousseaus adopted Duke, he was in need of a fur-ever home. After all, Duke had already been bounced around various shelters and was waiting for his future to unfold at the Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS). Sadly, DAWS had recently rescued Duke from likely euthanasia at another location.
However, Eric and Jenna Brousseau knew that they wanted to adopt a dog from a shelter. Moreover, they were very aware that space in shelters is at a premium and that too many shelters with an “open admissions” policy often resort to frequently euthanizing their unadopted rescues.
“We could never justify spending money on an animal when there are so many animals that need rescuing,” Jenna told the American Red Cross. “We’ve always felt from the beginning that [Duke] was appreciative of us rescuing him.”
But little did they know just how grateful they would be for having adopted Duke. That’s because, six years later, the Brousseau family had another new addition to the family. Yes, Jenna gave birth to their second child, a girl whom they named Harper.
So in early October 2012, when Harper was about nine weeks old, Duke surprised the parents in the middle of the night. In fact, he leapt into their bed and began “shivering” uncontrollably.
“He started shaking, as if there was a storm coming,” Jenna told ABC News. At first, the couple tried to get the dog to leave the bed. Indeed, Jenna tried to coax him away, and Eric grabbed his collar and yanked him down.
But it didn’t make any difference; Duke came right back onto the bed still shaking. That’s when Eric realized that they should check on baby Harper.
Scarily, the Brousseaus later reported that Harper looked just like a doll. In fact, her face had gone pale, and she wasn’t moving. “She looked fake to us,” Eric said. He immediately called 911.
Fortunately, as Jenna started slapping Harper on the back, the baby began breathing again. The parents were no doubt flooded with relief, and it seems that Duke was just as scared at seeing Harper in that condition as her parents were.
Apparently, the problem was likely caused by Harper experiencing some acid reflux and then choking on the up-swallow. If Duke hadn’t noticed the baby had stopped breathing, though, the parent’s would have likely slept through the emergency, and Harper might have died.
“We rescued him and he reciprocated and rescued our daughter,” Jenna tearfully told cameras after the rescue happened. “Duke without a doubt is a hero to us, he is our family’s hero.” Indeed, dogs are sometimes the best friends to have by your side during an emergency.
In July 2016, for example, a Labrador called Max saved a boy on a camping trip in Mexico. The boy, Juan, fell into a ravine and got lost; Max followed him and stayed by his side as they tried to find their way back to the campground. Then, after wandering for nearly two days, they finally came across rescuers on horseback.
Earlier, in May 2016, a rescued German Shepherd named Haus saved a seven-year-old girl from a deadly Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. The dog leapt between the girl and the snake, saving her but injuring itself. But thanks to donations from the online community, the family received more than enough money to pay for Haus’ life-saving veterinary bills. They also plan to donate much more to charity.
There are countless other stories of dogs saving children and adults from dangerous situations, too. In fact, the Brousseaus’ story does more to confirm, rather than suggest, the loyalty and bravery of canines as pets.
Naturally, after Duke’s miraculous rescue of their youngest child, Jenna and Eric gave a number of television interviews advocating adopting dogs over buying new ones. “People are so interested in designer dogs now,” Jenna said. But they don’t have the same kind of heart and soul that comes from a rescue, she added.
Not surprisingly, the situation for shelter dogs is not a good one. Even though some shelters will open their doors to any stray pet, to do so often means euthanizing older, sicker or otherwise unadoptable animals to make room.
Moreover, limited and no-kill shelters are usually very specific about which types of pets they will allow. So, overall, any rescued pet is at risk of living or dying in a shelter until someone adopts them for the long-term.
The Brousseaus advocate giving rescue dogs priority when it comes to finding a new pet. After all, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has claimed, “Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year.” That is a staggering statistic.
And while one never knows how a pet might ultimately respond to an emergency, especially when the animal is not trained to handle it, heroes are always the ones that rise to the occasion. Thanks to Duke’s response to her life-threatening situation, Harper will grow up knowing just how much of a hero her four-legged best friend is to the family.