Dogs have been devoted to protecting their humans for centuries. There is a reason we call them “man’s best friend.” For most canines, that means protecting their household by barking at the mailman, but for one German Shepherd named Haus, it was so much more.
When Haus was adopted his new family had no idea that in just a few months, he would do something shocking to keep their seven-year-old daughter safe. Read about the incredible story about the tail-wagging hero named Haus.
They Thought Haus Was Just A Regular Dog
In 2016, Donya Deluca of Tampa, Florida, adopted a two-year-old German Shepherd named Haus. When she brought him home from Heidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue, her husband, Adam, looked at her like she was crazy.
“We had recently lost our family dog, who had been with us for 13 years,” Donya reported to Today. “So [Adam] looked at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ But I just couldn’t pass up the chance to rescue him.”
“Man’s Best Friend” Isn’t A Good Enough Description
At the time, Donya didn’t know how much of an impact she was making. Haus, whose name translates to “home” in German, quickly became a new family member. Haus bonded with both the couple and their two children, seven-year-old Molly and four-year-old Joey.
“He just bonded with all of us so quickly,” Donya said. “It was like he was always part of our home.” She described Haus as a “goofy, happy go-lucky-dog” that even the neighbors adored.
But Haus Was More Than Just A Friend…
But Haus wasn’t just the family pet. He also followed his German Shepherd instincts and became the family’s protector. “Especially at night, he’s very protective of the kids,” Donya said. “He follows them around, he takes care of them.” The two-year-old dog quickly became the newest playmate for the DeLuca kids.
At the time, Donya and Adam thought that Haus’ behavior was a cute quirk. They never imagined that their dog’s instinct would save one of their children’s lives.
The Unseen Danger
One day, Molly was gathering toys outside, with Haus by her side. Her grandmother watched them from behind a screen door. Suddenly, Haus began to act suspiciously in a way that concerned the DeLuca grandmother.
“He kept jumping back and then forward,” Donya later told WFLA. “And he did it three times.” From a distance, Donya’s mother feared the worst. Since Haus was still new to the family, she worried that he was acting aggressively.
But Haus Wasn’t The Attacker
According to Donya, nobody knew what was happening at first. “At first, [Molly] and her grandma didn’t even realize what he was staring at,” she said. “But then all of a sudden there was all of this blood.”
The DeLuca grandmother called Donya immediately. Donya could hear her kids crying in the background. She heard the devastating news: Haus had been bitten three times by a snake in his right front leg.
How Their Dog Saved His New Family
While little Molly was exploring the backyard, she came face-to-face with a snake. The snake coiled, hissed, and struck–supposedly at Molly, but Haus had jumped in the way. “He instantly positioned himself between the snake and Molly,” Donya said.
Haus had sacrificed his own safety to prevent the snake from reaching Molly or her grandmother. But the snake struck him three times. And with every bite, Haus became weaker and weaker.
Saving Molly’s Hero
By the time Donya came home, Haus was barely hanging on. He could hardly walk or even limp. His head hung down, and he drooled excessively. Haus weighed 68 pounds, and the snake bites nearly immobilized him. Imagine what the bites could have done to seven-year-old Molly.
Donya knew that they didn’t have much time. She rushed her dog to BluePearl, Tampa’s 24-hour veterinary clinic. At the time, the DeLuca family had no idea how much their dog had suffered.
The Attack Was No Ordinary Snake Bite
Haus endured an exceptionally venomous snake bite. Vets at BluePearl believed that an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake, one of North America’s deadliest snakes, bit Haus. These bites can even be fatal to humans.
"[Rattlesnake bites] can cause problems with clotting, so they can bleed into the wound uncontrollably," said veterinarian Danielle Pollio. If a dog gets bitten by an Eastern diamondback, it has a 30% mortality rate. And Haus had been bitten three times.
How Haus’ Life Hung By A Thread
When Haus arrived at the vet, his symptoms had worsened. He had so much venom in his system that vets immediately delivered nine vials of antivenin. But individual vials weren’t enough.
Eventually, vets hooked Haus up to a constant IV drip of antivenin. To put this in perspective, most dogs receive only two doses for a snake bite. And yet, Haus still flicked his tail every time a DeLuca entered his kennel.
Haus’s Survival Is A Miracle
Despite his critical condition, Haus somehow pulled through. Even his vets were surprised when he became stable a couple of days later. "It’s semi-miraculous, his condition," said Donya. "I can tell that his mindset is to keep going; his personality is just tremendous like that."
Although Haus’s red blood count and kidney function were still low, he didn’t receive any permanent damage. However, the experience left the DeLuca family with some damage of their own.
Could The DeLuca’s Family Afford The Treatment?
Like any dog owner, the DeLuca family were willing to go to great lengths to save their pooch. But as the treatment continued, vet costs piled up. Soon, their bills reached thousands of dollars–a sum that the family couldn’t possibly afford.
Donya and Adam were fully devoted to the dog who saved their daughter. But where would they get the money to save his life? With few other options, the family reached out to strangers for help.
Reaching Out For Help
On May 11th, 2016, Cherissa Vandergriff (whose relationship to the DeLuca’s is unclear) set up a GoFundMe on behalf of Donya DeLuca. She titled it, "Help Save Haus (Rattlesnake Attack)" and set the goal amount for $28,000.
"The vet bills are already at $10,000, and the treatment is not finished," Cherissa explained. "His vitals are strong, his organs are functioning, and if they can afford enough anti-venom, he will recover with no ill-effects."
Haus’ Story Spread
In the GoFundMe page, Cherissa chronicled Haus’s story. "They’re quite certain he was protecting Molly," she said, "because he did not back away, keeping himself between the snake and away from Molly." Internet users began sharing the story about the heroic dog.
"No doubt this sweet dog was brought to this family for a reason, and he risked his own life today defending Molly," Cherissa continued. "This family would never ask for help, but Haus is like family and they desperately want to save him."
Reaching–And Surpassing–Their Goal
In just five days, Haus’s GoFundMe received $51,329 in donations–almost double the family’s original goal. The page was shared over 7,500 times on Facebook and covered by several news outlets. The German Shepherd’s story warmed the hearts of dog owners around the world.
Over 1,800 people donated to save Haus’s life. With overwhelming support, the DeLuca family had to shut down the donation page to prevent more dog lovers from donating. It surpassed everyone’s expectations.
The Impact On The DeLuca Family
As expected, the DeLuca family felt overwhelmed by all the donations. "Everyone’s generosity is allowing him to live," she told Today, "and we’re so touched and overwhelmed. I have people from Sweden—and I don’t even know anyone in Sweden—reaching out and donating. It’s crazy."
Donya also added that this experience set a good example for her kids. It proves "that there is good in the world and that when you’re struggling, people will help you."
Haus Returns Home
On May 18th–about a week after the attack–Haus’s vet gave the world a heartwarming update. "We hope that Haus will get to go home today," Dr. Jennifer Holm told Good Morning America. "We are doing a couple more checks on him early this afternoon, and–fingers crossed–we hope that he will get to go home either today or tomorrow."
By this time, thousands of people worldwide had become invested in Haus’ story. His recovery came as a relief to all who supported him.
Haus After Heroism
After Haus returned home, the DeLuca family updated everyone who donated. They created the Facebook page Haus the Hero Dog, which displayed Haus looking happy in his autographed cone. He attended physical therapy to regain full use of his leg.
"Currently we are seeing a lot of tripping when he tries to trot," wrote the Facebook page, "and he cannot jump on our bed–his favorite place." By June, Haus was able to jump on the bed again, and acted "very playful" and "extremely loving."
The Extra Donations Didn’t Go To Waste
Now that Haus returned to his family happy and healthy, the DeLuca’s didn’t need the thousands of dollars in donations. They sent the remains to Heidi’s Legacy Rescue, where they first adopted Haus, along with other animal shelters.
On their GoFundMe page, the family linked donors to Heidi’s Legacy Rescue, "so others can find their own Haus." They wanted to encourage future pet owners to adopt dogs from shelters.
The DeLuca’s message
Using their international story, DeLuca family encouraged people to adopt adult dogs like Haus. "People always want to adopt a puppy, because it’s a puppy," Donya said. "But adult dogs need homes too, and I hope my story will encourage people to go find their own Haus, who’s just as deserving of a home as a puppy."
Haus has the benefit of looking as cute as a puppy and being loyal enough to save his family. He’s a hero on four paws.
Haus Now, And His Growing Family
In May of 2017, the DeLuca family once again updated everyone on Haus’s life through their Facebook page. They reported that Haus "is happy and healthy with very minimal lasting effects." He’s no longer in the cone and playing as normal.
The DeLucas also adopted another German shepherd from Heidi’s Legacy. Her name is Elke, and she had a troubled past. But now, she and Haus have become good friends. Both rescued dogs receive the happy life they deserve.
This Dog Wouldn’t Stop Barking At Its Pregnant Owner’s Belly And Ended up Saving Her Life
Alhanna and her fiance Ricky had an instant connection when they met. They knew they wanted to spend their lives together and start a family, so they decided to try for a baby right away.
At times it seemed like Alhanna would never conceive, but then one day, she received the greatest news of all: she was pregnant! Alhanna and Ricky’s family was about to get bigger, but they had another baby to consider…their fur baby Keola!
Keola Was Just As Excited That Her Mom Was Pregnant
It didn’t take long for Alhanna and Ricky’s dog Keola, an American Akita, to realize that Mom was pregnant. While Keola had always been a sweet pup ready to cuddle at any moment, it was clear that seeing her Mom like this made her feel even more tender.
Keola was constantly by Alhanna’s side as her belly grew bigger by the day. Instead of going out on the town, most evenings were spent relaxing on the couch with Keola’s head resting on Mom’s belly.
Keola Started Acting Strange
By the time Alhanna was around four months pregnant, Keola started acting strangely. The usually peaceful and snuggly pup suddenly seemed to be completely different. Instead of watching over Mom with a gentle touch, Keola started whimpering and pawing at Alhanna’s belly for what seemed like hours.
At one point, Keola tried to bury her nose in Alhanna’s belly like she was trying to get something out. At first, Alhanna and Ricky didn’t think twice about their dog’s behavior.
Alhanna’s Pregnancy Seemed to Be Going off Without a Hitch
Alhanna truly enjoyed being pregnant. At the beginning of her pregnancy, she was lucky enough to avoid experiencing any of the less-than-ideal symptoms some moms-to-be have to deal with. She and Ricky were eager to meet their little one. They couldn’t wait to become parents and start growing their family and by the looks of it, the rest of Alhanna’s pregnancy was going to be a breeze.
Keola continued to act weird around Alhanna, poking and prodding at her belly, but the couple concluded it was just a phase.
Alhanna Started Feeling Sharp Pains
Alhanna’s pregnancy was going great until she hit 16 weeks and the unthinkable happened. It was then that she suddenly started experiencing sharp pains in her lower back. The pain was so severe that she could hardly walk or talk. Doubled over in pain, her mind went to the worst case scenario. Was her baby alright? Would she and Ricky get to live out their dream of becoming parents?
Ricky rushed his fiance to the hospital and prayed for the best.
Alhanna Was Rushed to the Hospital
Doubled over with pain, Ricky rushed Alhanna to the hospital where a doctor saw her right away. The couple was anticipating scary news, but to their surprise, the doctor said Alhanna and the baby were fine.
The medical staff told Alhanna and Ricky that the pregnancy was taking its toll on her body and that she simply needed to take it easy and get as much rest as possible until the baby was born. Relieved, Alhanna and Ricky went home.
The Couple Was Relieved to Be Home (and Exhausted!)
Alhanna and Ricky left the hospital and headed home. The two were so relieved that their baby was healthy. All they wanted to do was get home and relax while cuddling with their pup Keola.
Alhanna was still experiencing sharp pain in her lower back, but all she could do now was trust in her doctor. She returned home, got comfortable in bed, and tried to sleep off the lingering pain that she was feeling.
Venting On Facebook
The next day, Alhanna shared an update on her Facebook so her friends and family would know what was going on. She detailed her scary symptoms and how her doctor told her she and her baby were fine. Alhanna also added how Keola had been acting strangely the last few weeks.
Friends and family were quick to offer their support for the couple, but many weren’t shy about commenting on Keola’s behavior. Soon enough, Alhanna had multiple people urging her to trust Keola’s instinct, saying that she should go back to the doctor.
Was Keola Trying to Tell Her Something?
At this point, Alhanna didn’t know what to do. The last few days had been completely exhausting for the mom-to-be and she didn’t want to step on her doctor’s toes by insisting that something might be wrong.
But after her pain didn’t let up, Alhanna was starting to believe that Keola might be right. After all, Keola’s behavior had been extremely unusual for some time now. Was it possible that Keola was trying to tell her something?
Alhanna’s Mom Steps In
By now, Alhanna was hearing from friends and family from all over that she should go back to the doctor. She didn’t feel her best but still, she was unsure what to do. It wasn’t until one person, in particular, urged her to get a second medical opinion that she changed her mind: her mom.
Alhanna’s mom was certain that Keola’s behavior wasn’t a coincidence. The next day, Alhanna decided to go to work and deal with the pain, but something very bad was about to happen.
Keola Blocked the Door So Alhanna Couldn’t Go to Work
The next morning, Alhanna woke up, still in pain. She decided, however, that she would try and tough it out at work. She got ready and was about to head out the door when Keola wouldn’t let her leave. She was jumping up and down and whining while barricading the door.
Alhanna had no idea what had gotten into Keola. Then, Alhanna collapsed. Ricky heard the commotion and quickly rushed Alhanna to the emergency room.
Alhanna and Her Family Look for Answers
Now in the emergency room, Alhanna was stabilized and explained her ongoing symptoms, although she didn’t insist she was partially returning because of Keola. The doctor gave Alhanna a thorough exam and ran a series of tests to determine if there was anything serious causing Alhanna’s pain and collapse or if it was simply the stress of her pregnancy as the other doctor had suggested.
Alhanna, Ricky, and her mom patiently waited for the results.
She Had a Double Kidney Infection
After her exam and series of tests, Alhanna’s doctor returned with bad news. Alhanna didn’t just have a kidney infection, she had a double kidney infection. More than that, her vitals were so bad that if she had waited any longer, Alhanna and her baby could have died.
On one hand, Alhanna was relieved the pain wasn’t all in her head, but now she feared for her life and her unborn baby’s life.
Alhanna’s doctor knew that time was of the essence. She was at serious risk of losing her pregnancy, or worse, both she and the baby’s lives. Her doctor placed her on a serious regimen of antibiotics and provided the necessary care and treatment to stop any further damage to her kidneys.
Alhanna felt like she was now in good hands, but she was completely distraught over the prospect of losing her child.
The Treatment Worked
After a few scary and stressful weeks, Alhanna completed her antibiotic regimen and got plenty of rest. Along the way her doctor carefully monitored Alhanna and the baby. Thankfully, the care and treatment worked. Alhanna’s kidney infections cleared up and she and her baby were happy and healthy.
All that was left for Alhanna and Ricky to do now was to wait for the arrival of their newest family member!
Alhanna and Ricky Welcomed a Healthy Baby Boy
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, Alhanna gave birth in November of 2015. She and Ricky welcomed a precious baby boy whom they named Lincoln.
The couple was instantly smitten. They couldn’t believe that after all this time, they were finally parents. And although Alhanna had dealt with a serious health scare, Lincoln was here and he was healthy! The couple couldn’t have asked for more. Above all, they were so grateful for Keola.
Bringing Lincoln Home
After Lincoln was born, Alhanna and Ricky spent a few days with him in the hospital. The couple was excited to finally get to bring their little man home, mostly so they could introduce Lincoln to Keola.
While reflecting on her pregnancy, Alhanna couldn’t stop thinking about Keola and how she was trying to tell Alhanna something was wrong for weeks. Alhanna felt an immense love for Keola and didn’t know how she would ever repay her precious pup.
Keola Was Smitten With Lincoln
Alhanna and Ricky returned home with their newest addition in tow. Keola was immediately ecstatic when she realized that Mom and Dad had a new baby brother with them. Just as Alhanna and Ricky thought, Keola was instantly smitten with Lincoln.
Right off the bat, Keola was extremely interested in Lincoln and would not leave her little brother’s side. It was like Keola had known Lincoln all along.
Keola Was Always at Lincoln’s Side
Alhanna and Ricky now realized that Keola had been trying to tell them something was wrong the entire time. So naturally, they weren’t surprised when Keola had a very strong bond with their son.
From the moment they brought Lincoln home, Keola was always by his side. Whether Lincoln was napping, feeding on the couch, or playing with toys in his room, Keola was there. Lincoln had a built-in best friend!
Gentle at Heart
Keola is a big dog compared to a tiny baby, so naturally, Alhanna, Ricky, and their friends and family were worried about her accidentally harming Lincoln. But after seeing the two interact, it was apparant that Keola realized their size difference. Keola was always sure to be extra gentle around Lincoln whenever the two were cuddling or playing.
It really did seem like Keola had that “sixth sense” some animals seem to possess!
Growing Up Together
Before Alhanna and Ricky knew it, Lincoln was turning one year old. He was truly growing up right in front of their own eyes – and fast! Throughout the first year of his life, Keola was always there was Lincoln’s side. The two spent hours playing together, going on walks with Mom and Dad, and cuddling.
It was clear that the two had a very unique and special bond that you don’t see every day!
Ready for a Walk!
One of the family’s favorite things to do together is going on long walks around their neighborhood and at the park. While Alhanna and Ricky push Lincoln in his stroller, Keola is always trotting alongside his little brother and best friend.
What’s even more adorable is that Alhanna says Keola knows when it’s time for their daily walk. When she gets Lincoln dressed, Keola knows it’s almost time and starts jumping up and down.
Nap Time Is a Whole Lot Cuter These Days
Of course, going on a long walk can be tiring, so nap time is a must. Never to leave her best friend behind, Keola insists on taking naps with Lincoln. It doesn’t get much cuter than this does it?
It’s clear that Keola and Lincoln share a special bond. Alhanna and Ricky knew the two’s bond was special, but they never anticipated others would think their dog and son’s close relationship was special too.
Alhanna truly felt like Keola had saved her life and Lincoln’s lives. She believed Keola a was hero and apparently, everyone else did too! Keola’s story went viral and soon enough, she was nominated for an Animal Hero Award by the RSPCA.
As part of being nominated, Keola got to attend the award ceremony with Alhanna and Ricky where she received an award and, of course, lots of dog treats for being a true animal hero.
That Smile Says It All
Lincoln may still be just a baby, but it’s apparent that he understands the special bond between him and Keola and we’re sure their bond will only strengthen with time.
It’s tough to imagine how things would have turned out for Alhanna and Lincoln had Keola not been there to tell everyone something was wrong. Thanks to Keola, both Mom and baby are doing great. Just look at that smile! We think it says it all.
Lincoln Is Happy and Healthy
Now that Lincoln is a toddler, Alhanna and Ricky often find themselves reflecting on her pregnancy and the serious double kidney infection that almost took her and Lincoln’s lives.
The parents are so grateful for Keola’s warning and feel immensely lucky that Lincoln is happy and healthy today. Not only do Alhanna and Ricky get to watch their son thrive, but they get to watch him do so alongside Keola.
Alhanna and Ricky Still Think Back On Her Pregnancy Scare
Alhanna, Ricky, Lincoln, and Keola’s story goes to show that sometimes your pets really are trying to tell you something. Perhaps, we’d all be better off if we listened. “I have absolutely no doubt that both me and my son Lincoln would not be here today if it was no for Keola,” Alhanna said in an interview with the Daily Mirror.
“The bond between Keola and Lincoln is indescribable,” Alhanna added. “She’s an amazing dog and neither of us would be here without her.”
Can Dogs Really Tell When Something Is Wrong?
Some people might think that Keola’s behavior was just a coincidence, but many pet owners say that their furry friend can tell when something is wrong. So can dogs (and animals in general) really tell when something is awry? Science says yes!
Animals, dogs in particular, have special ways to tell if a person is ill. One of the ways they can tell is by their strong sense of smell. Some dogs have as much as 50 times the amount of scene receptors as humans, making their sense of smell nearly 100,000 times stronger than ours.
Dogs Can Tell If Someone Is Sick By Their Sense of Smell
When someone is sick, their body chemistry can change. As a result, a dog’s sensitive sniffer might be able to pick up on these changes – even if they’re subtle. Some dogs are even trained to sniff out certain serious illnesses like cancer. Believe it or not, some dogs can smell lung cancer on someone’s breath or pinpoint the approximate location of a tumor.
When Alhanna was suffering from a double kidney infection, Keola was able to pick up on her changing body chemistry.
Dogs Can Also Sense Pregnancy
Another amazing thing about dogs is that they can sometimes sense if a woman is pregnant. Thanks again to their amazing sense of smell, a dog can detect when a woman’s hormones change. Dogs typically know the scent of their owner, but since pregnancy hormones can alter a woman’s scent, this can cause the dog’s behavior to change.
Scientists point out that dogs don’t likely know that this change in scent means their own is pregnant – they simply pick up on the change in scent and may act differently.