Kids often look up to their father as one of their greatest heroes. There are the long drives to sports tournaments, the late-night movies, and the sweets when Mom isn’t looking. We probably all have some reason to look up to our dad as one of our biggest influences. It’s Father’s Day this month, a special time of year when we take a moment to think about the sacrifices the father figures in our lives have made for us. Most dads are pretty great, but some go above and beyond the fatherly call of duty. Let’s take a look at some heroic dads who risked everything to keep their families safe. Life can change in a split second, and how you choose to react in a moment of peril can define your legacy forever. Few people know this as well as Brad Lewis. When Brad and his young son, Oscar, were deeply entrenched in an intense Nerf battle, he surely didn’t think the situation would turn as dangerous as it did. When a few darts missed his father and landed on the balcony, Oscar ran after them but soon found himself teetering on the balcony’s ledge, 12 feet above the ground. Thinking fast, Brad grabbed his son just before he fell over, both taking the plunge while Brad protected his son with his own body. Just as he’d intended, Brad absorbed most of the blow. While Oscar sustained serious wounds, his father’s injuries were more severe. Brad was left fighting for his life in the ICU, with severe fractures to his skull and vertebrae. Thankfully, Brad is expected to make a full recovery and has made serious strides since the accident. He and his son will live to play another day. BRAD LEWIS: OVER THE LEDGE HEROIC DADS WHO DIDN’T BACK DOWN Being a Parent Isn’t Always a Walk in the Park
Far before humans had written histories, we had dogs. From hunting and shepherding to playing and relaxing, our early ancestors had canine companions by their side, and their appreciation shows. As storytelling developed around the world, our four-legged friends became important characters. Here are a few ancient legends for the historical dog lover. GOOD BOYS OF ANTIQUITY Dogs in Ancient Legend
TARASCAN SPIRIT DOGS
Many Mesoamerican cultures featured dogs prominently in their myths and legends, especially in regard to the afterlife. One of the most notable of these comes from the Tarascan state, an empire that rivaled the Aztecs. The Tarascans believed canine spirits would search out the souls of lost humans and guide them safely out of the mortal world. Leave it to dogs to create ghost stories with happy endings.
TUIREN THE WOLFHOUND
GREG ALEXANDER: COULDN’T BEAR TO SEE HIS SON HURT
In Irish folklore, Tuiren was a beautiful woman to be wed to Iollan Eachtach, but this love made Iollan’s faery sweetheart jealous. In an attempt to ruin the young woman’s wedding, the faery turns Tuiren into a hound and gives her to Fergus Fionnliath, a renowned dog-hater. This cruel act backfires when the Irish wolfhound wins over Fergus, teaching him to love not just her but all dogs too. In fact, the man is crestfallen when his hound is revealed to be a human. Tuiren’s nephew, the hero Fionn, cheers Fergus up with a new puppy! The Indian epic “Mahabharata” is thought to date back to the eighth or ninth century B.C. and tells the story of two warring families. Toward the end of the tale, prince Yudhishthira and his family begin to ascend the Himalayas to reach heaven, and a stray dog joins them on their journey. One by one, Yudhishthira’s companions fall, until only the prince and his furry friend remain. When the god Indra finally appears to offer Yudhishthira passage into heaven, he brings bad news: The dog cannot come with him. But Yudhishthira refuses to abandon his dog, explaining that he could never leave such a loyal, steadfast companion. Anyone who’s turned down a great apartment offer because they don’t allow pets can relate. YUDHISHTHIRA’S STRAY
While camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in June 2015, Greg Alexander awoke to the sound of a nightmare. The screams of his son intermingled
with the roars of an unknown assailant, beckoning Greg to his son’s tent. There, he found his son Gabriel being attacked by a bear. The bear had his son by the head and was dragging him away. Greg jumped on the bear’s back, desperately trying to take attention away from Gabriel. Amazingly, it worked, and in the end, the bear ran away. Gabriel was left with serious cuts to his head, but thanks to his dad’s heroism, the two were able to walk away from that campsite and back to their lives together.
The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to take a leap of faith or fight a bear to be a hero in your family’s eyes. Just be yourself, show some support, and do the best you can. Happy Father’s Day, everybody.
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