by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet four new heroes. No, they were not persons admired for their courage, nobility or exploits. They were not comic book characters brought to life and action on the big screen, in theatres nearby. They were real life individuals. They were humble and self-effacing, as they received their recognition. However, there can be no doubt that in times of crisis, they demonstrated some outstanding qualities.
They were the 2008 inductees into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame. Let me tell you their stories.
In North York, Ontario, Corey, a 14 year old miniature schnauzer dragged his owner approximately 200 yards down the street during their daily walk, tracking a very faint voice in distress. They found an 80 year old man who, while out inspecting his pool, not yet open for the summer season, had fallen into the freezing cold water. His chronic emphysema and heavy, wet clothing made it impossible to pull himself out. Thanks to Corey he was found in time to pull him from the pool, warm him up and call an ambulance. The rescued gentleman was treated in hospital for a stress heart attack, hypothermia and badly injured hands from his desperate attempts to crawl out of the pool.
In St Catherines, Ontario, Freddie, a three year old German shepherd saved the life of his owner when they was out for a winter walk near his cottage in Coldwater, Ontario. Freddie's instincts were razor sharp and instant when the ice suddenly gave away under his owner and he was plunged into frigid water. His owner tried to pull himself out of the water, in vain, as his wife watched, helpless, across the channel. He was about to pass out when he felt a strong tug at his wrist. Amazingly, Freddie's leash was still wrapped around his wrist and Freddie's years of playing tug of war with his human pal helped him to free his owner from the hole and lead him to safety.
Maggie May is an eight month old Wheaton terrier who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She alerted her owner to dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in their home last winter. Her owner, strangely not feeling well, lay down for a nap in the afternoon. Shortly thereafter, she awoke to Maggie May sitting right on her chest, licking her face and whining loudly. When her owner, who is deaf in one ear, sat up she heard the carbon monoxide detector going off. Both Maggie May and her owner made it out of the house safely and the fire department and gas company were able to deal with the toxic levels of gas in the house.
A five year old Lhasa Apso poodle, named Peeka, saved the life of a newborn baby girl in the middle of February in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Outside temperatures hovered around -29 C dropping to - 39 C with the wind chill when Peeka began to whine and bark incessantly at the back door of her home. She was scratching at the door and frantically trying to get the attention of her owners. When her owners finally opened the door they saw a baby wrapped in a sleeping blanket on the porch. They quickly brought the newborn girl inside, checked her over and called police. Thanks to Peeka's perseverance and her owner's response the baby survived and made a full recovery.
Now, do you not believe these animal heroes deserve just as much recognition as any person demonstrating such qualities and achievement? Thanks to Purina's Animal Hall of Fame, over the course of the last four decades, household pets and service animals have been honoured for their incredible acts of heroism and bravery.