P.W. Wesley wasn’t sure what to make of Hank, the mixed-breed dog given to him by his grandson.
“I couldn’t tell what kind of dog he was,” said Wesley, “or what he was good for.”
About a month later, on a day last October, the 82-year-old Wesley lay unconscious in a field on his Johnson County farm, his body broken and bruised by a tractor.
Hank stayed by his side.
“When I come to, the dog was just lickin’ me all over the face,” Wesley recalled. “I couldn’t get him off me ’cause he was steady working.”
Despite serious injuries that included four broken ribs, a broken sternum, lacerated liver, bruised lung and cracked bones in his neck, Wesley managed to get to his feet — with Hank’s help.
“I thought he might break down, but he stood right there and let me put all my weight on him.”
Wesley managed to get back home and was later rushed to the hospital by ambulance.
Hank’s heroics has earned him a spot as a one of 15 finalists for the Dog of Valor award, a national honor given by the Humane Society of the United States for an “extraordinary act of courage by heroically helping a person in need.”
The winner will be selected by a panel of judges, but a People’s Hero also will be crowned.
Hank has earned the tag of hero, according to Wesley’s wife, Hazel, who said she didn’t know her husband had gone out to work on the farm that day.
“I owe him a lot,” she said of the dog. “If he hadn’t been there and not woke him, I was getting ready to go to town.”
Wherever her husband had gone, she knew Hank wouldn’t have been far behind. “He’s everywhere he goes,” she said.
Recalling the accident, P.W. Wesley said he was standing beside the tractor and reached over to bump the starter, hoping to edge it forward and connect it to a piece of equipment. Instead, the tractor cranked and took off, trapping his foot and running up his leg and over his body. He last remembers the tractor’s tire being on his chest and nearing his head.
“I called on the Lord. I said, ‘Lord, is this it?’”
Not long after Wesley got out of the hospital, he accidently ran over Hank with his truck. Since then, the dog keeps his distance whenever Wesley climbs in the cab.
Other than that, Hank still sticks pretty close.
“He turned out to be a pretty good dog,” Wesley said.