Golden retriever jumps in front of bus to protect blind owner

Golden retriever bus hero: Figo, a golden retriever, jumped in front of a mini school bus in New York to protect his owner, Audrey Stone. Both survived. 

( Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News via AP)
Figo, an injured guide dog, waits to be transported to a veterinarian Tuesday, June 8, 2015 in Brewster, N.Y. Figo and his owner were both struck by a small school bus while crossing a street. Figo threw himself in front of a mini school bus to try to protect his blind owner and stayed by her side as emergency responders tended to the injured pair, authorities said.

A service dog jumped in front of a mini school bus to try to protect his blind owner and stayed by her side as emergency responders tended to the injured pair, authorities said.

Both Figo, the golden retriever, and his owner, Audrey Stone, were on the mend Tuesday, a day after the collision with the mini school bus in Brewster.

Police photos of Monday's crash showed fur stuck to the bus' front wheel, according to the Journal News .

"The dog took a lot of the blow," Brewster Police Chief John Del Gardo said. "And he did not want to leave her side. He stood right with her. He was there to save her."

The driver said he didn't see the pair crossing the road. He was given a summons for failing to yield to a pedestrian. The two kindergarteners on the bus weren't injured.

Paul Schwartz, who manages a gas station at the intersection, ran over to help.

"The dog didn't want to leave her side," Schwartz said. "He was flopping over to her, and she didn't want him to get away from her, either. She kept screaming" Figo's name, said Schwartz. "We kept telling her he was fine."

"He let us wrap up his leg without any problem. He wasn't barking or crying or yelping. But he kept pulling toward her," Schwartz said.

The dog wasn't allowed in the ambulance; he was taken to the veterinarian in a fire vehicle. Figo and Stone were both visibly upset by the separation, Schwartz said.

Stone, 62, was diagnosed with a broken ankle, elbow and ribs and a head wound and was still hospitalized Tuesday in Danbury, Conn., the police chief said.

Figo underwent surgery and has a leg splint. He'll remain at a veterinary hospital until Stone is able to care for him.

The driver was taken off duty while an investigation is conducted. The review will include dashboard cameras in the minibus and another bus that was in the area at the time, according to Steven Moskowitz, Brewster's assistant superintendent for human resources and technology.

Service dogs are legendary for their loyalty. The website collects owner's tales about how their canines have gone above and beyond. 

For example, Kristy Crowell tells how her Australian Cattle Dog, Taz, protected her during a tornado in June 2014. She sought refuge in her bathtub, and her dog followed her into the bathroom.  

He knew I was terrified but funny thing is he never showed fear yet strength. Taz placed his one paw on top of me – as though he was asking, “May I?” He laid over the top of my body and in that moment, He took away all of my anxiety even though it was so dark I couldn’t hardly see but I felt his heartbeat on my chest. I embraced him and wasn’t going to let go no matter what awaited our fate. “My Shadow” was not going to allow me to leave this earth unless I was planning to take him with me.

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