James Gallagher III had a close call in 1998.
He was up at 4 a.m., in his bathroom. He had been drinking. And when he stood up too quickly, he got dizzy, lost his balance and fell over -- hitting the sink and bathtub on the way down.
When he woke up in the hospital three days later, he had a broken back and no memory of what happened. But he got some surprising news: His pug-terrier mix, Chewbaca, had saved his life.
"She's the best dog around," he said.
See Gallagher's and other people's essays celebrating their best pets ever and more: