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.
The National Wildlife Centre (NWC) is a registered Canadian charity whose sole purpose is caring for native wildlife using unique support model that is not available anywhere else in Canada. Working with registered wildlife rehabilitators in Ontario and Nova Scotia, NWC have become the primary providers veterinary care for sick and injured wildlife.
NWC doctors are on call every day and have treated more than 3,000 animals since the charity was founded three years ago. They treat all native wildlife — from moose to mice, bears to beavers, eagles to egrets.
Operating from a mobile hospital and a soon-to-be-completed field hospital, NWC volunteers have their sites on a piece of land in Caledon, Ontario, where they plan to build a more permanent facility. The new wildlife facility will include a surgery, an intensive care unit, a lab and wards for post-operative patient care. It will be the first of its kind, establishing not only an animal care facility, but also a wildlife education program for everyone from doctors to school children.
The founder of NWC, Dr. Sherri Cox, is a wildlife veterinarian and adjunct professor at the University of Guelph. Over the past several years, she’s been a guest speaker for related interest groups such as animal welfare organizations and animal rehabilitators, including the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association conference. It is expected that NWC will train more than 200 students across multiple disciplines, including senior wildlife biology and conservation, veterinary medicine and technology. It will also assist more than a dozen wildlife rehabilitation centres across the country, and in 2018 will easily double Canada’s capacity for treating native wild animals.
The NWC is completely volunteer run — all medicine, travel and operational costs are funded by donations and grants. Support for the program is growing rapidly. British Columbia-based Oiled Wildlife Trust, the SPCA (wildlife section) in Quebec, as well as multiple wildlife rehabilitators in Ontario and Nova Scotia have come forward in the past several months expressing their enthusiasm and support for this initiative.
They are also supported by corporate donations from The Home Depot, Toronto Dominion Friends of the Environment and Lush Cosmetics, as well as private monthly donors. Donations go directly to helping wildlife, and donors can follow the impact of their support through the stories NWC shares on social media.
For more information on the work of the NWC and to make a donation, visit www.NationalWildlifeCentre.ca.
Companion animals enrich our lives in countless ways, as pets and personal supports and even as protectors and workers. Chances are, if you have a pet, they are a member of your family and are treated with the same reverence and devotion as a child.
Roughly half of Canadian households own a pet, and we spend billions of dollars on them each year for veterinary care, food and other speciality products and services
Sadly, not all pets are born into (or borne to) doting homes, and many end up in shelters and under the care of rescue organizations who often struggle to attract and maintain sufficient funding to operate successfully. According to 2013 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies’ statistics, more than 119,000 cats, 53,000 dogs and 15,000 other animals were admitted to shelters in 2012 (a number the organization says is conservative, since it is estimated from the responses of only 102 shelters that responded to a survey).
Many organizations that coordinate foster care and training for service pets — such as guide dogs for the blind, emotional support animals and those that help with other special human needs — also have to raise funds to keep the lights on.
Over the past several years, PETS Magazine has profiled many of these groups and the passionate individuals who work tirelessly to make life better for people and pets alike. Their devotion takes many forms, from providing free veterinary care to the pets of homeless people to raising money for pet health research, offering support for pets whose owners are in endof-life care, flying adoptable pets to their distant forever home, training people in pet first aid and much more
Looking for a charity or cause to support? Find inspiration by checking out Pet Project profiles in back issues of PETS Magazine at www.petsmagazine.ca. Your veterinary team will also be a good source for identifying legitimate organizations near you. On the Internet, check out Canadahelps.org for listings of registered Canadian charities by keyword.
If you are concerned about how your money will be used, check out Charity Intelligence Canada (www.charityintelligence.ca), itself a registered charity that researches and assesses Canadian organizations so donors can make sound decisions. The Canada Revenue Agency also provides listings of registered charities and other tips for making donations at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/donors
Whether you have a personal affinity for specific breeds or merely companion animals in general, there are hundreds of organizations in Canada to choose from. They all need some form of support, in the form of donations of money, supplies, food or volunteer time. In some cases, your financial contributions can qualify for a tax credit.
In all cases, whatever support you can offer will change lives