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Hero pit bull from Lawrenceville up for national award

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gloria Benton of Lawrenceville talks about the time her dog Titan saved her life back in July. Gloria was having an aneurysm in her home when Titan would not allow her husband John to leave for work. Titan is now up for a national "Dogs of Valor" award through the Humane Society.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gloria Benton of Lawrenceville talks about the time her dog Titan saved her life back in July. Gloria was having an aneurysm in her home when Titan would not allow her husband John to leave for work. Titan is now up for a national "Dogs of Valor" award through the Humane Society.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Titan a pit bull of Lawrenceville is now up for a national "Dogs of Valor" award through the Humane Society after saving his owner Gloria Benton from dying from an aneurysm in their home by not allowing her husband John to leave for work back in July.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan John and Gloria Benton and their dog Titan leave their family jewelry store, Benton's Fine Jewelry and Repair in downtown Lawrenceville on Thursday. In July Titan saved Gloria from dying from an aneurysm by not allowing her husband to leave for work. Titan is now up for a national "Dogs of Valor" award through the Humane Society.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gloria Benton was in trouble, and Titan wasn't going to let her husband leave without making him aware of it. In fact, the pit bull wasn't going to let him leave at all.

"He was absolutely acting strange, whimpering and barking and whining," John Benton said this week, some eight months after that morning last July. "He got between me and the door, and then was running up and down the steps."

Sensing something afoot, Benton finally climbed the stairs of his Lawrenceville home. He found his wife on the ground, blood coming from her head. Thanks to Titan, the Bentons were able to get quickly to Eastside Medical Center, where doctors said Gloria had suffered a brain aneurysm.

Eight weeks in intensive care and more rehab would follow. But at least she was alive.

"(The doctors) said, 'If the dog had let you leave this house, she would have either bled to death or the aneurysm would have killed her," Benton said.

"I just couldn't believe it," Gloria said.

For his heroics, Titan is now one of just 10 dogs nationwide to be included in the Human Society of the United States' "Dogs of Valor" competition. Online voting open to the public began last week for the competition that honors dogs "who have exhibited extraordinary courage or resolve by helping a person in need."

Voting -- available at www.humanesociety.org/dogsofvalor -- will close at 5 p.m. Friday.

"Oh gosh, it would be wonderful (to win)," Gloria Benton said. "He deserves it."

John Benton said it would mean a lot for Titan to take the top honor, if only to help shatter misconceptions about his breed. Even his wife was "so mad" when their son Jeff -- the original owner of Titan -- brought a pit bull in their house. Now they're inseparable.

"I would just like for people to see that, by golly, everything you see about pit bulls is not true," John Benton said.

Titan's got some stiff competition.

Among the nine other candidates, there's Trixie, a terrier mix from Arkansas that kept her elderly owner warm for 20 hours after she fell in a frigid backyard. There's Fancy, the daschund who woke her family in West Virginia just in time to escape their burning home. There's Hank, the Kansas City great dane who took blows from a hammer, protecting his owner long enough for her to escape the wrath of an abusive partner.

Win or lose, Titan's got "grandma" to take care of.

"You couldn't separate this dog and my wife if you wanted to," Benton said.