Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, suffered massive wreckage in 2013 when a tornado plowed past. Molly Gibb, a volunteer for the search and rescue team, helped scour the area for any signs of life. After five days of searching, the team found a Pit Bull puppy buried under the rubble. He was just barely alive, but volunteers had faith he’d survive.
Gibb named the pup Little Man, and she adopted him when no one claimed him. He was clinging on to life back then, but thanks to Gibb’s care, he’s doing better than ever. Now, he’s the one saving lives so no one has to suffer like he did.
From Dying Puppy to Hero Dog
Right away, Gibb noticed qualities in Little Man that were special. She believes that all dogs are heroes, but some take it to a whole new level. Even at a young age, Little Man displayed incredible intelligence, focus, athleticism, and curiosity, which are qualities needed for search and rescue dogs.
“Search and rescue is about solving mysteries,” Gibb said. “Qualities my colleagues and I look for in people-oriented dogs include prey drive, endurance [or ‘hunt drive’], athleticism, curiosity, problem-solving ability, and enthusiasm. Little Man showed a lot of these as a puppy.”
Once Little Man recovered from the tornado and developed a bond with Gibb, he trained to become a search and rescue dog. He specializes in locating human scents, including belongings and remains.
Little Man made a huge discovery in 2020 when he found a missing assault victim alive. Gibb believes his work is special because he was once alone and traumatized, so he can relate to the humans he saves.
Competing For a Special Award
Now, Little Man is in the running for an American Humane 2021 Hero Dog Award. He is a finalist in the search and rescue hero category alongside a famous therapy dog named Boone, who is missing his back legs.
Gibb’s family has had Pit Bulls like Little Man for many years, and she adores them. When Little Man isn’t doing search and rescue, he’s often spreading joy by comforting humans and advocating for dogs in need.
“Little Man exudes the typical qualities of this faithful old breed, and I believe he helps shine a bright and hopeful light on the truth of these dogs,” Gibb said. “He goes about his life including everyone into his heart with joy. We humans can take a lesson or two from him about living life well. He teaches and reminds me every day to do so.”
Even if Little Man doesn’t win the Hero Dog Award, he is still an amazing hero. He deserves so much recognition for all the lives he’s saved. And it’s all thanks to Gibb and the other volunteers who saved his life when he was a fragile puppy.