Life-saving dog up for hero award

Staff WriterMarch 7, 2010 

  • To vote for Prozac, go to www.humanesociety.org/animals and scroll down. Internet voting will determine the "people's hero" winner. A panel of celebrities will choose the "valor dog of the year." Voting ends Friday.

Prozac the dog earned his name because he's the type of pup who makes everybody happy. When he's not busy with that, the 4-year-old poodle mix saves lives.

Prozac, who is owned by Barbara and Fred Berman of Sanford, has proven so adept at keeping people out of trouble that he has been named a finalist in the annual Dogs of Valor contest sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. If he wins, Prozac and his owners will take home a set of prizes, including a fancy dog tag and some money to spend in the Humane Society's online gift shop.

Internet votes and a panel of celebrity judges will decide the winners.

Prozac is credited with saving lives on two occasions. During the summer of 2009, he was staying with a friend in the neighborhood while the Bermans were out of town. During the night, he began to bark incessantly, waking the neighbor and her granddaughter.

"He wouldn't stop for an hour," Barbara Berman said, laughing. "They were ready to kill him."

Instead, Prozie, as he is called, kept them from getting killed. Although it took them awhile to catch on, he alerted them to a fire in the attic. The house was destroyed, but everyone got out in time.

During his other bit of life-saving heroics, Prozie was taking a nap with an aunt of Fred's when he awoke and started barking, alerting others to the woman's breathing problems. Family members woke up Aunt Dorothy, 94, and gave her medicine.

Prozac was nominated for the contest by a Humane Society staff member who came across a news story about his pre-fire barking, said Colin Berry of the Humane Society. The promotion aims to reinforce the idea that dogs are not exclusively driven by their own needs and wants.

Not that Prozac is completely altruistic. He loves his naps.

"Are you kidding?" Barbara said. "This dog probably sleeps 22 hours a day."

But he keeps waking up at the right time.

matt.ehlers@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4889

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