Dogs are often called man's best friend, but one dog in Washington state is almost certainly one teenager's best hero.
Rex, a German shepherd, and one of his human companions, 16-year-old Javier Mercado, were home alone in their Des Moines home in late February when two armed intruders broke into the house.
"I feel like if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here today telling you this story," Mercado told Seattle's KING 5.
According to Mercado, it was around noon when the two men broke into the home's sliding glass door.
"I heard the sliding door break, and it is made out of just glass so it shattered really loud," said Mercado. "My dog ran downstairs, and it just started barking and barking. I heard one guy scream, 'The dog bit me, get the dog.'"
Mercado hid in his closet and dialed 911. All the while, he could hear Rex and the intruders engaged in scuffles as the men made their way through the house.
"I could hear my dog, like, really close to me in the bathroom with me, just barking. And the man comes upstairs," said Mercado. "I heard one gunshot and several after that, and my dog just cried after every shot that hit him."
Mercado naturally wanted to run to Rex's aid, but the dispatcher advised him to stay hidden. It was nearly an hour until Mercado came out of the closet, and by the time the police had arrived, the intruders had left.
Rex, however, has been taken to BluePearl, an emergency pet hospital, in Renton, about 10 miles northeast of Des Moines. He had gunshot wounds in his neck and hind legs that required surgery.
While Mercado was relieved to know that Rex had survived the attack, the surgery's cost weighed on him and his family.
"I was worried, my parents were worried. My dad said he was going to start working every Saturday, saving up," said Mercado.
A hero's return
Naturally, the internet wouldn't let such a brave dog face surgery alone. Mercado's cousin, Susy, set up a GoFundMe page for Rex's surgery, and the response was overwhelming.
The drive has raised close to $60,000, well over the original $10,000 intended to cover the surgery and Rex's physical therapy. Susy shared that the family has been "looking into local organizations and rest assured that the money will go to help animals in need," regarding the excess donations.
Rex was released from the veterinary hospital on Feb. 25.
"He's walking fine. He's just very excited. He's trying to lead the pack, trying to get in front of everyone. He doesn't want no one in front of him," Mercado told KING 5.
Mercado's mother informed KING 5 that the house was re-burglarized between Wednesday and Friday while they were visiting Rex. They intend to move and their new home will have a security system.
As for Rex, Mercado joked to Seattle's KIRO 7 that it'll be nothing but "chicken and steak and rice" for the brave dog, who, as the video above shows, seemed very eager to be heading home.
You're obviously a fan of dogs, so please join us at Downtown Dogs, a Facebook group dedicated to those who think one of the best parts of urban living is having a four-legged friend by your side.