Local hero dog in running for national valor award honors

Porkchop’s frantic effort to save his master is getting national attention, but the kudos are bitter

Porkchop’s frantic effort to save his master is getting national attention, but the kudos are bittersweet for June Argenti.

Argenti lost her husband, Nick Argenti Sr., in December, six months after Porkchop saved Nick’s life by barking and baying when the 71-year-old man lost consciousness and disconnected his oxygen tube.

Now the dog is one of 10 in the running in the third annual Dogs of Valor Awards sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. Winners will be announced Sunday.

In July, the beagle-and-dachshund mix was relaxing outside with Nick at their home in Geyser Crest while June was at church. Nick collapsed, dislodging his oxygen, which he was on full-time because of a respiratory condition.

That’s when 9-year-old Porkchop stepped in, raising his voice until a neighbor noticed and looked outside to see Nick lying facedown on the ground. She called 911 and Nick was taken to the hospital where he stayed two nights.

Nick’s affectionate nickname for Porkchop was “Bonehead,” June said.

The couple’s mini-dachshund, Brandy, used to sit on Nick’s lap, but Porkchop was too heavy for that. Both dogs miss Nick since he died in December, June Argenti said.

“They both feel the loss, just like I do.”

Argenti said she was surprised when she heard Porkchop was up for an award.

“I don’t know how the Humane Society got the information,” she said. “They had sent me a certified letter telling me that he was up for the third annual dog of valor.”

Although the main award will be chosen by celebrities, the public can vote for a “People’s Hero” award online at humanesociety.org/dogsofvalor until 5 p.m. today.

Celebrities picking the winning dog include Kristin Bell from the TV show “Heroes;” Sally Pressman, whose character on Lifetime’s “Army Wives” adopted a stray dog who saved a soldier’s life in Iraq; and retired Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman, who brought a puppy back from Iraq and wrote “From Bagdad With Love” about the experience.

“It’s a great honor,” Argenti said of Porkchop’s being considered for the award. “My thing is that there are so many other dogs that have done remarkable things.”

Other dogs in the running are:

* Benson of Binghamton, who barked when a neighbor’s house was aflame in the middle of the night, awakening his family, who woke up the neighbors;

* Calamity Jane of Aledo, Texas, an amputee who barked toward a neighbor’s house, causing intruders who held the neighbor’s family at gunpoint to flee the scene;

* Jackson of Rahway, N.J., whose frenzied cries and barking led his owner to discover an elderly neighbor trapped beneath a door that had fallen on her outside;

* Jobe of Omaha, Neb., who howled and barked in the middle of the night when his teenage owner struggled to breathe because of a severe allergy, waking the teen’s mother, who rushed him to the hospital.

* Kenai of Erie, Colo., who woke her owners while they were staying in a vacation house that had been overcome by carbon monoxide gas during the night;

* Max of Little Neck, who alerted his owners to their elderly neighbor’s fall in her garden, which was obscured by a fence;

* Milky Way of Rushford, Minn., whose owner suffered a stroke and who scratched at a housemate’s bedroom door to get her attention;

* Prozac of Sanford, N.C., who twice alerted people to emergencies: once when an elderly relative was gasping for air, and again about two months later when a dog-sitter’s home caught fire;

* RaeLee of Tampa, Fla., who alerted his owner to intervene in time to get help for her son, who had turned purple with blood running from his nose and mouth after having a seizure in his room.

Categories: Schenectady County

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