When Norman and Eve Fertig rescued a sickly two-week-old half German Shepherd and half wolf from a breeder over 7 years ago, they never dreamed that one day, that animal would return the favor twofold.
One October evening, the 81-year-old Fertigs were treating injured animals in the Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary on their property. They were taking care of an 18-year-old raven and also a crow that had been shot, was blind in one eye and had two broken legs. The couple normally ventured out from their Alden, NY home around 7:00 each evening with their dog Shana beside them, but the weather decided to change rather quickly. "While we're in there, the lights go out and I realized something's wrong," Eve Fertig said. "We go outside to see what's happening and down comes one massive tree … the trees came down across us."
With the path blocked to the other sancturary building and to the house, the Fertigs knew they were in big trouble. "I wasn't prepared for this … I thought, 'we're trapped, we're absolutely trapped,'" Eve said. The fast moving storm struck quickly, causing temperatures to dropped rapidly and for snow to quickly cover the ground. Because of their age, the Fertigs knew that they would not be able to jump over the fallen trees. They also were not dressed for the colder temperature. That's when Shana devised an escape plan.
Shana began to dig. For two hours, the dog dug and tunneled with her paws and nose under the fallen trees. With a bark, she signaled for Eve to follow her. Eve began to crawl through the escape tunnel at which time Shana began to drag Eve by her sleeve. Norman grabbed on to Eve's legs and the 160-pound dog pulled them both to their home 200 feet away.
But once inside their home, the Fertigs discovered that they had no electricity and that the temperatures inside their home was bitterly cold. Shana laid across the couple, acting as a blanket, and kept them warm until the fire department arrive the next morning. "It was the most heroic thing I've ever seen in my life," Eve said. "She kept us alive. She really did," Eve said.
Because of her heroic act, Shana received a fire helmet from the local fire department as was awarded the Humane Animal Treatment's Hero's Award for Bravery, which is normally awarded to humans.
Eve, who teaches a course in Saving Endangered Species and Caring for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife at the community colleges and trains animal rehabilitators in New York hopes that her story will help further her message of humanity towards animals and educate people about how even a wolf, if treated with love and kindness, can be a "kisser and a hugger" just like Shana.