When the driver of a mini-bus apparently didn’t see Audrey Stone, who is blind, and her guide dog, Figo (pronounced FEE-go), walking across a street in Brewster, N.Y., four months ago, the Golden Retriever jumped toward the vehicle to shield Stone.
“I don’t know if (the driver) thought (Stone) was going to move faster, but it looks like the dog tried to take most of the hit for her,” Paul Schwartz, who witnessed it all, told the Journal News June 9.
Both Figo and Stone were hit by the bus, but thanks to the guide dog’s heroic action, they both survived.
“There were 15 EMTs and people all around her, and the dog didn’t want to leave her side,” Schwartz said. “He was flopping over to her and she didn’t want him to get away from her, either. She kept screaming, ‘Where’s Figo?’ We kept telling her he was fine.”
Stone suffered several fractures, and Figo’s right front leg was severely cut.
After Stone was taken by ambulance to a hospital, Schwartz said Figo seemed kind of lost. Firefighters put Figo in their truck and took him to Middlebranch Veterinary, where he had surgery on his leg. A generous, unidentified benefactor paid all of Figo’s vet bills.
Once he recovered, Figo was returned to his original trainers at the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind to make sure the scary incident hadn’t affected his ability to continue working as a guide dog for Stone.
He passed all the tests with flying colors, including a walk down the street where the accident had occurred.
Today, after all those months apart, Stone was finally reunited with Figo — who, she’d told the Journal News, deserved a purple heart.
“Oh, my good boy. You’re home — finally!” Stone said as she petted him, the Associated Press reports.
“Basically, he would have died for me, doing what he did,” Stone said.
Although Figo won’t be receiving a purple heart, he is getting another prestigious honor for his heroic act. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) announced today it has named Figo its Dog of the Year.
“The 2015 Humane Awards honorees exemplify perseverance and incredible dedication to helping both animals and their owners – reminding us of the value animals bring to our lives, and the loving protection we owe them in return,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker in a press release.
The Humane Awards Luncheon will be held Nov. 12 in New York City.