T his past May marked the 50th anniversary of the Purina Animal Hall of Fame — four new heroic hounds who exemplified extraordinary qualities were inducted during a ceremony in Toronto. Each of these remarkable dogs has an astonishing story from the day they saved a life.
“Every year we receive countless nominations from Canadians coast-to-coast, sharing the extraordinary stories of animals who have proven to be devoted companions, and who have demonstrated unquestionable intelligence and perseverance to save a life,” commented Melissa Eckersley, Purina Animal Hall of Fame Ambassador. “Although each and every nomination we receive is truly heartwarming, the four dogs we are inducting for our 50th year really did go above and beyond.”
The Purina Animal Hall of Fame has celebrated outstanding acts of animal heroism since 1968. To date, 179 remarkable animals have been inducted into the program, including 151 dogs, 27 cats and even a horse. The four dogs joining the ranks in 2018 were rewarded due to their incredible acts of perseverance, intuition and love, which ultimately saved lives. Here are the 2018 Purina Animal Hall of Fame Inductees:
RUTH and LADY
(Two-year-old Akbash/Yellow Labrador/ Border Collie cross and seven-year-old Yellow Labrador/Border Collie cross from the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia)
It was a chilly afternoon in early April 2017 when Matthew Smith hit the road with his dogs, Ruth and Lady, to run a few errands in Kelowna, a town located 45 kilometres from his home. At around 8 p.m., Matthew decided to drive back home. He was three kilometres from his house when he lost control of his vehicle while navigating a very steep road and crashed — falling down an embankment. Matthew miraculously survived this fall, but was severely injured. Although he managed to get himself, Ruth and Lady out of the truck, the severity of Matthew’s traumatic injuries, which included head trauma, a lacerated liver and multiple broken ribs, rendered him incapable of getting help, and he collapsed. The temperature soon dropped to zero degrees, and recognizing the seriousness of Matthew’s situation, Ruth and Lady lay on either side of him, hoping to keep him warm and comforted in the freezing conditions. Hours later, a homeowner living nearby returned from work to find Ruth and Lady barking on his driveway, signalling him to follow them. The gentleman followed the dogs and discovered Matthew in critical condition, lying bleeding on the ground. He immediately called 911 and even after the emergency services arrived, Ruth and Lady refused to leave Matthew’s side, showcasing their loyalty and devotion to protect him. Matthew is currently in the process of recovering from the terrible accident and thanks Ruth and Lady for saving his life. Without their quick-thinking, loyalty and exceptional communication skills, Matthew knows he would not have lived on to share his story.
(12-year-old Whippet from St-Laurent, Quebec)
It was 2 a.m. one dark September morning, when Adele Schwartz awoke to use the bathroom. She unfortunately took a wrong turn and tumbled down the basement stairs, hitting her head and instantly falling unconscious. Being a deep sleeper, Adele’s husband Bill didn’t hear a thing until Sabrina woke him by causing a commotion — nudging him repeatedly and pulling the comforter off their bed. Typically, a calm and quiet dog, Bill was alarmed by Sabrina’s uncharacteristic behaviour and, after realizing Adele was no longer lying beside him, got out of bed to investigate what had happened. Sabrina led Bill to find Adele’s motionless body at the bottom of the stairs. Incredibly frightened and worried, Bill immediately called an ambulance. Due to the fall, Adele had a fractured vertebra in her neck, a compression fracture in her back and her head had split open, causing a severe concussion that left her unconscious for three days. Adele spent 10 more days in the hospital and several more months recovering. Today, Adele says she owes her life to Sabrina. Had Sabrina not acted so quickly, Adele likely wouldn’t have survived the fall or would have suffered permanent brain damage.
(eight-year-old German Shepherd from Baddeck, Nova Scotia)
On March 3, 2017, Lloyd Stone, a very active 90-year-old, was out crosscountry skiing, a regular leisure activity he enjoyed. Suddenly, he hit some ice and fell on his side — breaking his hip and leaving him in excruciating pain. The intensity of the pain made it impossible for Lloyd to reach the nearby highway and, starting to lose hope, he dipped in and out of consciousness. Three hours later, at 8 p.m., it was getting dark when Lloyd’s neighbour Calvin Kuchta was driving by and recognized his car on the side of the road. He had seen it earlier while going to the gym, and thinking it was a little out of character for Lloyd to be out for so long and so late, Calvin headed home to collect his dog Arik to help him investigate. Arik was an accomplished former police dog, so Calvin knew he needed Arik in order to be able to successfully find Lloyd. Unable to use Arik’s leash, Calvin creatively fastened a skipping rope around Arik’s neck to help him track Lloyd’s scent in the woods and returned to the area. As the duo searched deeper into the bush, they finally heard a man’s voice calling for help, triggering Arik into action. Arik broke his skipping-rope-fashioned leash and bounded into the woods where he found Lloyd lying on the snow-covered ground. Calvin called 911 immediately and Lloyd was taken to a nearby hospital. Had Arik not been there to help locate him so quickly, Lloyd would have likely suffered from severe hypothermia, and potentially frozen to death.
Two dogs also received honourable mentions for making a difference in people’s lives. Koby, a fiveyear-old German Shepherd, Border Collie and Husky mix from Toronto, was the first self-trained service dog in history to be allowed into a Canadian school. Smiley, a beloved blind therapy dog, garnered 200,000 Instagram followers and became famous for his infectious smile and ability to help brighten the lives of others, comforting countless hospital patients, children with autism and those living in nursing homes alike.