Jackie McCarty checks on residents after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 as rescue dog Quinn waits in Point Lookout, New York. (AP/Kathy Kmonicek)

Jackie McCarty checks on residents after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 as rescue dog Quinn waits in Point Lookout, New York. (AP/Kathy Kmonicek)

Sergeant Sean Gannon poses with K-9 Nero. (Yarmouth Police Department)

Sergeant Sean Gannon poses with K-9 Nero. (Yarmouth Police Department)

A handler hugs his police dog at the end of a police dog retirement ceremony in Quito, Ecuador. (AP/Dolores Ochoa)

A handler hugs his police dog at the end of a police dog retirement ceremony in Quito, Ecuador. (AP/Dolores Ochoa)

Ozzy the police dog found an elderly lady who left a nursing home and got lost in Bucharest, Romania. (AP/Andreea Alexandru)

Ozzy the police dog found an elderly lady who left a nursing home and got lost in Bucharest, Romania. (AP/Andreea Alexandru)

A handler and his rescue dog look for people trapped in a collapsed seven-story building in Mexico City in 2017. (AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

A handler and his rescue dog look for people trapped in a collapsed seven-story building in Mexico City in 2017. (AP/Rebecca Blackwell)

What Makes a Hero?

Posted: May 1, 2022

Most police dogs are bred for their work. They’re trained from birth. A state police K-9 can cost $7,500. Many come from Europe. Corporal Daniel O’Neil looked at Ruby. A shelter mutt. Hard to manage. She just didn’t fit the bill.

Still, he took the risk.

Now Ruby and Corporal O’Neil have been partners for 11 years. They’ve teamed up on several successful rescues.

This winter, Massachusetts made a new law: First responders can treat police dogs injured in the line of duty. “Nero’s Law” was named for a K-9 dog that was shot while doing police work. Back then, state law didn’t let emergency responders treat dogs. Nero’s human partner, Sergeant Sean Gannon, was also shot. Mr. Gannon did not recover. But Nero did. He now lives with Mr. Gannon’s widow.

Heroes are helpers. They show selflessness. They may risk danger to help others. Officers like Corporal O’Neil and Sergeant Sean Gannon are heroes. So are dogs like Ruby and Nero.

We’re designed to admire heroes. Deep in our hearts, we know we need a hero. And in the big story God is writing, the perfect hero exists. His name is Jesus. Jesus is perfectly selfless. He gave up heaven to come to Earth. He willingly sacrificed. He died a horrible death so we don’t have to. Earthly heroes give us a tiny hint of who He is.

Human—and canine—heroes aren’t perfect. That includes Ruby. Ruby still has the occasional misadventure. Once, she bolted at a state park, prompting a 19-hour search. She turned up safe and sound later. Another time, she came back from an outdoor potty break with a skunk writhing—and spraying—in her jaws!