With a neighbor’s house on fire one night in late January, Brandon bee-lined it to their backyard, where four puppies and their mother lived. “It shocked me, he was gone so fast,” says Brandon’s mother Kandy. “We were worried about people inside and he was worried about the dogs. He said, ‘What about the puppies?’ and he was gone.” In seconds, Brandon emerged with four puppies in his arms, and then retrieved their mother, Bell, a Rottweiler. “I am so very proud of him,” says Kandy. “I have always been proud of him, but this grabbed my heart.”
The home’s owner, Junior Lynch, was also touched. He gave Brandon, of Sylacauga, Alabama, one of the puppies, a rottweiler-lab mix named Bruno. And when Halo co-owner Ellen DeGeneres got wind of Brandon’s feat, she flew him and his mother to Los Angeles to appear on her January 30 show. Ellen told Brandon,“I have a pet food company called Halo, and it’s great food, it’s good for animals and I’m going to give you a year’s supply for your puppy.” Then she presented Brandon with a $10,000 scholarship for college, and a five-day trip to Disney World, where he and his family will be honored. “She was fun,” says Brandon of Ellen. “She jokes during the show.”
Brandon’s lifelong love of animals propelled him to action that day. He’s wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as he can remember, and Ellen arranged for him to follow a veterinarian; already, says Brandon, he’s watched vets do surgeries. “When I was little I had stuffed animals, rabbits and bears and when we went outside I liked to look at the squirrels,” he says. “I had fish, birds, rabbits, iguanas and a snake.” Now, his only pet is Bruno.
The trip to Los Angeles was Brandon’s first time on a plane. “It wasn’t scary,” says the sixth grader. “It was like a ride at the carnival.”
Saving the puppy and receiving Ellen’s recognition, says Kandy, “has been a turnaround for him. He’s more of a pet person than a people person, now he’s more positive about everything, about school. More motivated.”