3 Touching Tales of Animals With Big Hearts

By Simone Jonker | October 19, 2021
Simone Jonker worked in NTD Inspired for two years. She wrote light articles and inspiring stories.
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Beluga whales are not only terribly cute, apparently they can also be quite caring. (Image: Premier.gov.ru via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0)

Beluga whale saves a drowning diver

When cramps paralyzed a freediver’s legs in icy waters, and she was rendered unable to swim, a beautiful Beluga whale rushed to her aid, and, in the nick of time, held her lower leg tenderly in his massive jaws, and pushed her to the surface.

Yang Yun, 26, was hoping to become a whale trainer at the Polar Land Aquarium in Harbin, Northeast China. To qualify for the job, Yun was required to dive into the 20-foot polar pool packed with Belugas, and remain submerged in the chilly arctic waters for as long as possible. But during the test, Yun’s legs cramped up; to her utter dismay and horror, she felt paralyzed.

Water pressure is very dense and can hold a person down at depths of 20 feet and below, especially if the cold has paralyzed the limbs.

Yun described her ordeal, “I began to choke and sank even lower and I thought that was it for me – I was dead.” Then, out of the blue, a white whale called Mila appeared. Yun said, “I felt this incredible force under me driving me to the surface.” Mila used her beak and pectoral flippers to maneuver Yun before taking her leg in his massive jaws and moving his huge two flukes up and down, paddled to the surface where they were greeted with relief and much applause. 

“We suddenly saw the girl being pushed to the top of the pool with her leg in Mila’s mouth,” an official at Polar Land said.

Belugas are scientifically referred to as Delphinacterus Leucas, a name derived from the Russian word “Belukha,” which translates to “white whale.” Belugas are slow swimmers, but can dive almost 700 meters.  These whales hunt and explore using their hearing and echolocation. Belugas have great eyesight both in and out of the water.

The spherical feature on the dorsal surface of a whale’s head located immediately in front of the blowhole is called a “melon.” It is very prominent in Beluga whales and extends over the rostrum. Because it changes form while the whale is making noises, experts believe that the melon facilitates the making of the unique combination of sounds that has earned Beluga whales the moniker “canaries of the sea.”

These Arctic and sub-Arctic Belugas whales feed only on salmon, eulachon, cod, sandworms, herring, smelt, and flatfish, including krill; so Yang Yun was in no danger of becoming lunch.

Belugas are mammals like us that need to surface regularly to breathe and drown if they can’t get to the surface. Both dolphins and whales have brains almost as large as ours and with a similar convoluted form as well, indicating that they may be as intelligent as humans and are able to demonstrate empathy; moreover, experts agree they have very complex communication signals that resemble a simple language.

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While many regard cats as “standoffish,” they have the potential to be ultra-attentive and affectionate. (Image: Marianne Perdomo via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

Orphaned kitty becomes a “cat nurse” and rocks the internet

After a 9-month-old Polish cat’s photos were shared on Imgur, they became an instant hit and were viewed almost 800,000 times. The images were so sweet they caused many viewers to shed tears. Following a profile on him as one of the world’s most renowned healthcare workers, this cute kitty rocketed to popularity.

Since then he has become well known as “Cat Nurse,” due to his attentive care for ailing animals, which included affectionate hugs, and sometimes a massage!

Rademenes was only two months old when he was taken to the Bydgoszcz animal shelter, according to TVN Meteo. Staff was doubtful that the tiny black cat would survive, but when they heard him purring, they decided to start treatment straight away. Rademenese recovered beautifully, thanks to the efforts of veterinarian Lucyna Kuziel-Zawalich, who named him the shelter’s mascot and gave him a place to stay.

Izabella Szolginia, the shelter’s director, told TVN Meteo that Rademenes gives “hugs” to both cats and dogs that seem to be ill when they arrive at the shelter and comforts sick animals with cuddles, kisses, and even massages.

Rademenes’ “co-workers,”  said as soon as he regained his health, the compassionate feline began comforting other animals at the shelter, giving particular care to those who were recuperating from surgical procedures. They jokingly refer to him as a “full-time nurse.”

Some say that with cats, what you put in is what you get out. According to Plos One, our feline family members’ personalities mirror our own. Cats are often more intelligent than we give them credit for. Experts say cats are fully able to recognize and comprehend emotions. 

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Jack Russell Terriers are a lively, clever little breed. These dogs have a mind of their own, with a heart of pure gold. (Image: Franz Golhen via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain)

Dog saves owner’s life by chewing off his toe

In 2010, Jerry Douthett of West Michigan was feeling great, and more than a little buzzed, after a night out to celebrate his wife Rosee’s American citizenship.

Douthett awoke from his inebriated slumber to the shocking discovery that his right big toe was missing and his dog Kiko had blood in its mouth. Although his wife Rosee had been nagging him to see a doctor about the painful sore on his big toe, Douthett never did. Kiko then decided to take things into his own “mouth.”

Douthett was rushed to the hospital to have the remainder of his toe removed and the wound treated. 

Rosee told NBC affiliate WOOD, Channel 8, “[While we were there] they also found out that he was diabetic.” 

“His sugar was in the 800s so it was like if it wasn’t treated, it could be fatal for him, going into septic shock.“

“[The doctors] heralded Kiko as a hero because if he didn’t do that, [Jerry] would never have gone to the hospital or discovered he was diabetic,” she said. Jerry improved his diet and swore off drinking from then on.

In August 2020, Douthett complained of a toothache. Upon examination, he was found to have oral and throat cancer. A golf ball-sized tumor was surgically removed, and all the while Kiko and the couple’s cat Lucky, remained by his side.

Despite four rounds of chemotherapy and 35 radiation treatments, Jerry lost his battle with cancer in June this year. He was 58. 

In the wake of Jerry’s death, Rosee said Lucky died in September and Kiko died of kidney failure on Oct. 11. They were both 12 years old. She says losing all three in such a short time made her reflect on their shared experiences. She thinks Gerry, Kiko, and Lucky are together now.

Dogs are extremely sensitive to smells that people cannot detect. Recent research shows that dogs’ highly developed sense of smell can accurately detect cancerous blood samples. When a person’s blood sugar lowers, they exhale more isoprene. While the cause of this rise is unknown, it is believed that dogs can detect the change in chemical composition on a person’s breath.

Super-human senses are certainly a plus, but it is a dog’s unwavering loyalty and complete devotion that make a dog worthy of the title “a man’s best friend.”