Pets have long been considered our most trusted companions and it’s easy to see why. They make our lives feel bigger, better and frequently seem to understand us more than we understand ourselves. This unique intuitive connection between humans and pets is often best exemplified by the heroic animal stories that continue to amaze the world.

into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, each of whom has a remarkable tale about the day they saved their owners’ lives.

In addition to unveiling each of the heroic stories at the Purina Animal Hall of Fame exhibit in Toronto, Purina paid special tribute to each of the inductees this year within their local communities. For the first time, each inductee was surprised in their hometown and awarded with a medal of honour, a year supply of dog food and a $5,000 gift to help the families as they move on from these lifechanging incidents.

Initially launched in 1968, 175 remarkable animals have been inducted into the hall of fame to date, including 147 dogs, 27 cats, and even a horse. The three dogs joining the ranks in 2017 were rewarded as a result of their quick-thinking, intelligence and devotion; without which, their owners would no longer be with us. “If it wasn’t for Becky Jo, I simply wouldn’t be alive,” said Tracy Matkea, Becky Jo’s owner. “I always knew she was a very smart dog, and she went above and beyond to prove it that day when my life was on the line. She is my hero and the only reason I’m still here today.”


Becky Jo
Five-year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie cross
from Edmonton, Alberta

On January 10, 2016, Tracy Matkea embarked on a horse ride while at her family ranch in Arizona — where she and her husband visit each winter. Tracy ventured down a dry riverbed with Becky Jo, her trusted sidekick, following closely behind. During the ride, the horse suddenly got spooked and threw Tracy from the saddle and onto the ground, knocking her unconscious instantly. Adding to the already perilous situation, Tracy’s foot was caught in the stirrup of the saddle and the horse dragged her unconscious body along the rough desert terrain for almost a kilometer

Eventually Tracy’s foot came loose and the horse returned to the ranch house without her. A short time after, Becky Jo also returned to alert Tracy’s husband, Butch. She circled the driveway barking repeatedly to warn him that something was terribly wrong. In a panic, Butch hopped onto an ATV and followed Becky Jo for almost five kilometres to find Tracy lying motionless on the ground and bleeding profusely. Butch raced to get Tracy medical attention and she was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Tracy has now made a full recovery and truly owes her life to Becky Jo’s quick thinking and fast action. According to doctors, had she been left bleeding for 10 minutes longer, Tracy would have lost her life that day. Tracy always knew that Becky Jo was a smart dog and now knows that it was this intelligence that ultimately saved her life.

Seven-month-old Biewer Yorkshire Terrier from Ottawa, Ontario

In December 2016, and only 10 days into their new relationship, Brittany Cosgrove brought her recently adopted puppy Leo home to her Vancouver apartment, following a visit to Ottawa to see her family over the holidays. It was New Year’s Eve and after putting Leo to bed, Brittany had settled into a deep sleep herself. Suffering from insomnia, Brittany often didn’t sleep well — but when she did, it was quite difficult to wake her. At 2 a.m., when Brittany woke to the startling noise of Leo aggressively barking, she knew he must have been trying to get her attention for a while. Puzzled as to why Leo was behaving this way, Brittany got out of bed to investigate. This was very much out of character for Leo who, until this point, had been a very quiet and reserved puppy.  It was only when Brittany attempted to go into her bathroom — which neighboured the very bedroom she had been sleeping in minutes before — that she discovered flames dripping from the walls and ceiling. Frightened by the fact that this fire had not set off any alarms, Brittany frantically reached for her phone to call the fire department. As the blaze grew, Brittany grabbed Leo and fled from her apartment.

Shortly after, the fire had taken over the whole apartment complex, forcing 30 other residents from their homes and severely damaging the entire building. Thankfully everyone escaped unharmed — and it was Leo’s persistent barking and perseverance to wake Brittany that began this crucial chain of events. His keen intuition to recognize the dangerous nature of the fire — new sights, sounds and smells he had never encountered before as a puppy — is what led everyone to safety. Losing nearly everything she owned as a result of the fire, Brittany left Vancouver and moved back to Ottawa with her mother. Although she has had to start over again, Brittany is forever grateful to have Leo, her heroic puppy, by her side as she looks to the future.

Three-year-old Golden Retriever from Port Hope, Ontario

On a cold December afternoon in 2015, Grace Goheen set out for a walk with Skylar in a secluded wooded valley two and half kilometres from their home. Skylar smelled something intriguing and ran ahead. As Skylar set off to investigate, Grace slipped on the hard ground, breaking her hip. In excruciating pain, Grace could not get up. Since she had no cell phone to call for help, she attempted the journey back home by pulling her body backwards using her arms.

After an hour and from sheer exhaustion, Grace gave up and began to cry from the pain and fear of what might happen if they weren’t found soon. It was getting dark and, having previously heard the nightly howls of bears and coyotes in the area, she was petrified. She unleashed Skylar but based on their incredibly close bond, he wouldn’t leave her side. She began to desperately yell for help. Finally, two bright headlights appeared in the distance and to Grace’s relief it was her neighbour Mike who was driving nearby. Grace urgently prompted Skylar to, “go find Mike!” Skylar ran back to the spot where Grace had dropped her mittens earlier, picked one up in his mouth and ran back toward the headlights. Mike understood Skylar was trying to tell him something, so he got out of his truck and followed him — eventually discovering Grace lying injured on the ground.

him — eventually discovering Grace lying injured on the ground. Grace was taken to the hospital, treated for hypothermia and admitted to surgery to fix her hip. Over a year later, Grace has physically recovered — but never forgets how close she came to losing her life. A local police officer felt compelled to recognize Skylar for his heroism — nominating him as a Purina Animal Hall of Fame inductee. After all, it was thanks to Skylar’s intelligence, quick thinking and resourcefulness that led to Grace’s survival in what could have been a fatal night in the snowy wilderness.

For more information about the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, please visit To watch videos of this year’s inductee stories, visit


Commonly thought of as a summer-only threat, animals are susceptible to fleas and ticks throughout most of the year. Regular checkups, taking preventative measures and proper treatments are key to keeping these pesky critters at bay. Here are some tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy:

Prevention — stop them before they start. Prevention is key, so have your pet tested by your veterinarian regularly (at least once a year) for parasites. Your vet will be able to recommend the best year-round preventive medications. Properly and consistently administering these can control both internal and external parasites and protect your pets and family. To help keep your pet healthy, make sure you book annual checkups to help avoid bigger health issues and extra costs.

Detection — find the fleas. Concerned your pet may already be paws-deep in parasites? Know what to look for to be sure. Fleas are dark or reddish brown bugs with flat bodies. Flea bites create raised red spots that are extremely itchy. If you’re suspicious of fleas, be on the lookout for black particles the size of ground pepper on your pet’s skin near the tail. Another sign is flea larvae or waste in or around areas your pet frequents, like dog houses, kennels and beds.

Treatment — kick the unwanted critters to the curb. Once you’ve confirmed the presence of fleas or ticks, you must remove them from your pet and your home. There are many over-the-counter pesticides and flea shampoos on the market, as well as at-home grooming techniques to help cure your animal and ease symptoms. Brushing your pet with a flea comb can be helpful in removing existing fleas from their fur while the medication works to destroy itchy irritants. Call your local veterinarian if you need help or are unsure of what steps to take.

“Keeping your pets in optimal health is something we all strive for. Healthy pets start with committing to annual health checkups with your veterinarian. Pets don’t have voices, so it’s our job — as pet parents and veterinarians — to speak for them,” explains Dr. Kathleen Norman, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. “Have an honest and open discussion with your veterinarian to determine the plan of action that’s right for your family.”


“I left the window down for him.” “I wasn’t going to be gone long.” The Ontario SPCA has heard it all! To educate the public about the dangers of leaving pets unattended in vehicles during the summer months, the Ontario SPCA launched the 2017 No Hot Pets campaign in partnership with SPCAs and humane societies from across Canada.

The issue of owners leaving their pets in vehicles during the hot summer months is an ongoing problem across Ontario and puts animals at risk. There is no excuse for leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle this summer. The Ontario SPCA is seeking the public’s help to share this important message.

Through the No Hot Pets online forum, people are asked to share the dangers of leaving pets in vehicles using the hashtag #nohotpets. Pet owners are also asked to go online to and pledge to never leave their pets in their vehicles. Those who pledge will receive a free No Hot Pets window decal for their vehicles, while supplies last.

“Leaving your pet unattended in a vehicle is one of the most irresponsible things an owner can do. Leave your pet at home, and if you must take your pet, make sure that someone is with it at all times,” says Connie Mallory, Chief Inspector, Ontario SPCA. “During the hot summer months, let’s keep everyone safe and cool.”

Parked cars can quickly reach deadly temperatures, even on relatively mild days with the car parked in the shade and the windows slightly open. Dogs have a limited ability to sweat, so even a short time in a hot environment can be life-threatening. A dog’s normal body temperature is about 39°C and a temperature of 41°C can be withstood only for a very short time before irreparable brain damage or even death can occur.

If a dog is showing signs of heat stroke — excessive panting and drooling, listlessness or unconsciousness — prompt veterinary medical attention is vital. In the meantime, wet the fur immediately with lukewarm to cool water, not cold water. Bring the pet into the shade and offer drinking water.

If you observe an animal suffering in the heat in Ontario, call 310-SPCA (7722) or your local police.


Until March 31, 2018, PetSmart will donate $2.00 from two of its Pet Expressions services to the Canadian Cancer Society. The services are available in-store (while supplies last) and include Top Dog Yellow Daffodil and Pink Ribbon Pet Expressions services, where pet parents can show their support for the cause with a pet-friendly, non-toxic and washable stencil in support of Canada’s leading cancer charity.

Funds raised through these philanthropic services will support research into all types of cancer, information and support programs for patients and their families, and other important work so that fewer people are affected by cancer.

“We are proud to partner with such a leading organization like the Canadian Cancer Society to show our support of causes important to Canadians,” said John DeFranco, president, PetSmart Canada. “By creating these grooming services that give back in stores across the country, we’re working together with our generous pet parent customers to donate at least $75,000 to this cause that affects so many Canadians.” — All services are subject to availability and may not be available at all stores. Pet age, health and vaccination requirements apply. Available to dogs 12 weeks and older. Check with your local PetSmart for details and availability:


If you’re crossing the border with your dog, don’t forget to pack its rabies vaccination certificate. Think of the certificate as your pooch’s “passport” to enter the country. Dogs coming into the United States are required to be healthy and have proof of their rabies vaccination. Make sure to bring the right documents or your dog might not be able to come home with you.

Five things you need to know:
  1. Dogs must be at least three months (12 weeks or 84 days) old to get the rabies vaccination from a licensed vet.
  2. If it’s the first time your dog is getting the rabies vaccination, you must wait 28 days before bringing it into the United States to allow the vaccine to take effect.
  3. If you’re not sure or don’t have proof your dog was vaccinated before, have your dog vaccinated, then wait 28 days before travelling.
  4. If your adult dog’s rabies booster is current, you can travel without waiting 28 days.
  5. When your dog gets the rabies vaccine, ask the vet to give you the vaccine certificate. The rabies vaccination certificate must be valid when you’re bringing your dog into the United States.

A valid rabies vaccination certificate has:
  • Name and address of owner;
  • Breed, sex, age or date of birth (if known), color, markings and other identifying information for the dog;
  • Date of rabies vaccination and vaccine product information;
  • Date the vaccination certificate expires; and
  • Name, license number, address and signature of veterinarian. Having the right documents for your dog allows you both to enjoy safe and worry-free travels!
— U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


From October 1 to 7, 2017, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s (CVMA) Animal Health Week emphasizes the importance of Animal Welfare. The 2017 theme highlights the five basic freedoms animals require to survive and thrive. These Five Freedoms include: adequate shelter, proper nutrition, appropriate veterinary care, proper socialization and the ability to exhibit normal behaviours. Animal Welfare: Safeguarding the Five Animal Freedoms reminds everyone of the fundamental elements that are required for animals to have a healthy and happy life. Generous support of the 2017 Animal Health Week campaign is provided by Principal Plus Sponsor, Boehringer Ingelheim, Principal Sponsor, Petsecure and Program Sponsors, Elanco and iFinance Canada (Petcard). Follow CVMA on Twitter (in English @CanVetMedAssoc and in French @Assoccanmedvet) and Facebook (