by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.
With summer just around the corner, many people will be planning ways to spend their vacation or trying to think of ways to keep the family active and occupied until schooldays return in September. Often, short day excursions to events or activities near home are lots of fun and work best. Well, here is something for consideration. It's something the whole family can enjoy.
Plan a visit to the PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre in Toronto. Situated on the waterfront at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, PawsWay offers anyone interested in pets a unique destination where they can learn, play and celebrate their four-legged friends. You can also learn about some very amazing Canadian animals. These animals are members of the Purina Animal Hall of Fame. In the last 43 years more than 150 inductees have been recognized, including 125 dogs, 25 cats and even one horse. You can read their stories and get the details about their acts of heroism at the Centre. These heroes have done some incredible things: they have located and/or protected lost people and children; they have protected their owners from home intruders; they have awakened family members to save them from fires, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide levels; they have alerted owners to accidents that require immediate attention; they have identified emergencies such as choking, heart attacks, strokes, seizures and cancer; they have protected family members from deadly animal attacks including bears, rabid foxes, coyotes and poisonous snakes; they have pursued criminals in protecting the public.
In May, five courageous canines joined this illustrious group. K'os, Moose, Scooter, Missy and Stinky were honoured in ceremonies held at the PawsWay Centre.
Scooter, a 12 year old Australian Cattle Dog and Missy, a 6 year old Border Collie saved Glenda Mosher from a potentially fatal cow attack. Glenda, her husband Gary and grandson Travis were driving a stray cow and two calves out through a gate when the cow suddenly turned and charged Glenda. She was thrown to the ground and seriously injured by the trampling. Had it not been for her canine companions, it is likely Glenda would have sustained fatal injuries from the cow's continued attack. Missy and Scooter stepped in to break up the attack and drive the cow away, allowing Glenda to be taken for emergency medical care.
Moose, a lovable 2 year old whippet, with persistent barking and unusual behaviour alerted Jolene Sararas one afternoon that her 3 year old daughter, Alexis was in trouble. Alexis had her neck caught in the self-closing backyard gate and when Jolene found her she was barely conscious and unable to respond. Without fire department and hospital assistance that was able to be initiated, thanks to Moose summoning Jolene, a tragic outcome would likely have resulted.
K'os is a French Neapolitan Mastiff who went from family pet to family hero when his protective instincts helped save the life of his 14 year old master, Hunter. Hunter had recently been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis which can cause difficulty breathing. One night, in the middle of the night, in August 2009 Hunter suffered a violent convulsion. His parents were made aware of the situation when K'os ran into their bedroom furiously barking and jumped on their bed. He then led them to Hunter's room and stood over him until emergency medical personnel arrived and Hunter was transported to the hospital.
Finally, Stinky, a 10 year old Rottweiler, was named Service Dog of the Year for the unconditional support and kindness she has offered Canadian soldiers who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Stinky has done this work as a vital member of Manitoba Search and Rescue's Elite Psychiatric Therapy Dog Program, founded by Stinky's owner, George Leonard.
Learn more about these wonderful canine companions and meet the equally heroic other members of the Purina Animal Hall of Fame at the PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre in Toronto. Barry Burtis is a local companion animal veterinarian. Past Pet Tales can be found at www.baycitiesanimalhospital.ca