In 2003 Leonard Richards, 52, was checking his Tanjil South, Australia, emu farm for storm damage when a tree branch came crashing down on his head and knocked him out. Luckily for Richards, Lulu, his pet kangaroo who “thinks she’s a dog,” was following him. A short time later, Lynn, Richards’s wife, heard furious barking outside. When she opened her door, she instantly knew something was wrong. She followed the barks and found Lulu standing over her unconscious master. Help was called in and Richards was airlifted to a hospital in Melbourne, where he made a full recovery. For her part, Lulu became the first kangaroo to receive the National Animal Valor Award from the RSPCA. “I’d be pushing up daisies if it wasn’t for Lulu,” said Richards.
While one-year-old Booker West was happily splashing his hands in a birdbath in his yard in Masonville, Colorado, Zoey, the family’s Chihuahua, was keeping guard. Good thing, too, because a rattlesnake slithered out of the bushes and lunged at Booker. That’s when Zoey jumped between snake and baby and took a poisonous bite to her face. Booker’s grandfather heard the dog yelp and quickly swooped in to pick the boy up off the ground. Zoey’s face swelled up to the “size of a grapefruit,” and she nearly died, but veterinarians were able to save her. Denise Long, Booker’s grandmother, praised the heroic dog: “These little bitty dogs, they just don’t get any credit.”
Danielle Vigue, 18, was awakened in the middle of the night in July 2007…by spiders. Dozens of them. They were crawling all over her and all over her bed. And Danielle hated spiders. Freaking out, the Hemlock, Michigan, teenager started killing the arachnids until she noticed even more of them crawling down the walls. She immediately ran across the hallway to sleep in her 15- year-old sister’s room. A little later, their mom woke them up, saying she smelled smoke. Investigating, they slowly opened the door to Danielle’s bedroom and…it was on fire! They called the fire department, who rushed in and contained the blaze before it took over the house. But the bedroom was toast—as Danielle would have been, too, if the spiders hadn’t made a mass exodus from the attic, where the fire started. After her harrowing experience, Danielle gained a new respect for the creepy-crawlies: “I will never ever kill another spider again,” she said.
On the afternoon of January 15, 2007, actress Salma Hayek had a splitting headache. Bad timing: In just a few short hours she was scheduled to attend the Golden Globe Awards, where her TV show, Ugly Betty, was nominated for Best Comedy. But all Hayek could think about was how miserable she felt, so she decided to take a nap. The next thing Hayek knew, her dog Diva was hopping on her bed, barking furiously and tugging at Hayek’s arm. Hayek got up and immediately smelled a gas leak. She got out of the house and called in the fire department to turn it off. Crediting her life to her beloved dog, Hayek was able to attend the ceremony that night…where her show won the award.
Oscar isn’t exactly a lifesaver, but this unique kitty is credited with predicting when people are about to die. And in doing so, he actually brings comfort to them, and their families. Oscar lives at the Steere House Nursing Center in Providence, Rhode Island, where he roams the halls of the “end-stage dementia unit.” Oscar rarely jumps into bed with a patient…except when their passing is within about two hours. After his 13th accurate prediction, the nurses started calling in the families of the soon-to-be-deceased. So far, the two-year-old cat has predicted 26 deaths, and he’s seen as a miracle worker at the facility. “Many family members take some solace from it,” said Dr. David Dosa of nearby Brown University. “They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for a dying loved one in their final hours.” Dosa added that cat is “not usually friendly to people.”