People who keep dogs in their home typically don’t expect much from them. They are there to give and receive love, and the relationship is unconditional. Even in a time of crisis, most wouldn’t expect their family pooch to spring to action and save their life. You certainly wouldn’t expect it from a stray dog you’ve never met before.
That’s why Shannon Lorio is at such a loss for words when she thinks about what happened to her. She thinks about how easily things might have gone differently, and shudders when she thinks of what the result might have been. It took the confluence of several strokes of good luck to keep this story from being a tragedy.
But none of it would have been possible if it weren’t for Hero.
Shannon Lorio found herself on the receiving end of what could only be described as a miracle. She owes it all to a stray German Shepard that she’d never met before.
While driving along a winding road in her hometown of Pavo, Georgia, Lorio lost control of her vehicle and went careening into the surrounding woods. She’d been arguing with her husband, and admits she was driving well above the speed limit.
“The car fishtailed. It took me from the drivers seat and throwed me out the back glass,” she says in an interview with Heroes Among Us.
Lorio blacked out immediately following the collision. She doesn’t know how long she was out, but she recalls her upper-body sticking out of the back windshield of the car, and her lower-body still hanging over the backseat. She passed out again shortly after regaining consciousness.
Lorio was driving well over the speed limit when she lost control of her car on a winding road.
Her body was thrown half-way through the backseat windshield, and she was in-and-out of consciousness.
Her vision was fuzzy, and she wasn’t sure exactly what happened, but Lorio could feel she was in a lot of pain. She couldn’t move or turn her head, but she recalls feeling a “huge presence.”
Moments later, a German Shepard jumped up onto the trunk of the car and started to lick her bloodied face. She blacked out again.
When she opened her eyes again, the dog had turned her body around, and was pulling her off of the car. He grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and jacket, and started to drag her towards the road.
“He literally tugged and pulled, he wouldn’t give up,” Lorio says as she fights back tears. “That dog had more thrive for life at that point than I did.”
As Lorio lay helpless, a German Shepard grabbed her by the collar of her jacket and dragged her approximately 30-yards towards the road where oncoming cars would see her.
The dog had done his part; he recognized Lorio was in distress and dragged her to safety. Once she was at the edge of the road, she knew it was time for her to help herself.
“When he got me up there to the edge of the road, I thought, ‘I’ve got to stand up’. I reached up there, and I put my arms around his neck, and I pulled myself up,” Lorio said.
“And that was the first time I stood up.”
Woozy, and with her legs moments away from giving out from under her, Lorio noticed a car on the road. She can’t recall what kind of car it was, but she knew this was her one chance to get help. In a haze, she signaled the car to stop, and when it did, she told them she needed help.
“I leaned down into the vehicle and I said ‘I just wrecked my car, will you please call my husband?'” Lorio recalls.
“And I must have passed back out again, because I woke up in the hospital.”
When Lorio woke up in the hospital, doctors told her that her brain had a small hemorrhage. They wanted to monitor the internal bleeding before deciding whether or not to have surgery. Fortunately, Lorio was able to fully recover without the need of surgery, and she was sent home.
She believes that she would have died that day if it weren’t for the miraculous rescue efforts by the stray German Sheppard.”
“I honestly believe, in my heart, that if he hadn’t of… I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” Lorio says, so shaken by the thought she can’t even say the words.
“This dog, he did everything. He’s an amazing animal.”
Lorio recovered fully without needing brain surgery to fix her cranial hemorrhaging.
The stray dog was taken to the local chapter of the Humane Society, where he was quickly adopted. Heidy Drawdy, who is an animal search and rescue trainer, saw potential in him. Hero was trained to be a wilderness search and rescue dog where he was put in a position to save many more lives.
“I told him, ‘You’ll always be my hero,'” Lorio says thinking back at the dog that saved her life. “And that’s what everyone started to call him. And that’s how he got his name, Hero.”