3 Dogs (and 1 Cat) Have Their Day
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3 Dogs (and 1 Cat) Have Their Day

2007_05_07_roncon_hero_dog2.jpgWe at Torontoist love our pets, and yours too, and we’d be happy if they didn’t do much else but shower us with undeserved admiration and give us a little snuggle when we get home after a hard day of Torontoisting.
So you’ve got to know that we’re impressed when we come across pets that not only take care of the basics, but actually save lives to boot.
The 39th annual Purina Animal Hall of Fame 2007 Inductees were honoured yesterday at the Capitol Event Theatre in Toronto, and even the most cynical urbanites were a little misty-eyed by the end of the ceremony.
The four winners this year were:
Echo, an adorable little shepherd collie mix who spent 12 hours swimming beside her owner Tish Smith after their canoe capsized during a storm on Lake Huron. Echo never left her unconscious owner, even though when found by search and rescue they were within easy doggie paddle distance of the shore. Rescuers said that Tish probably survived because Echos’ body heat lessened her hypothermia.
Jango, a 10-year-old golden retriever who alerted the Unger family that their house was on fire, giving father Darrell time to carry his unconscious son Koby from the home. As if that weren’t enough, in his spare time Jango works as a therapy dog to the elderly.
Mel-O, a 10-pound cat who climbed a five foot ladder to a loft bed and woke up Alex Rose by jumping on his chest until the 9-year-old, who has Type 1 diabetes, got up to tell his mother about it. Baffled by this unusual feline behaviour, which they’d never seen before, they checked Alex’ blood sugar and found that it was dangerously low. Mel-Os House-like diagnostic abilities had saved Alex from insulin shock and possible death.
The police service dog of the year was Ki, who with handler Constable Shawn Campbell tracked a lost, panicked man for five hours through 10 km of woods near Haliburton. They finally found him in a frozen swamp, where he’d broken through the ice and probably would have died of hypothermia if Ki’s keen nose hadn’t been on the trail.
Each animal was honoured with a medal, and the owners received a painting of their pet (although not a painting of all the pets playing poker, which would have been really cute).
By the way, in 39 years 109 dogs, 23 cats, and one horse have been welcomed into the Hall of Fame, so if your hamster or budgie has done something heroic, call Purina and he or she could be the one to break the species barrier.
Photo: Jango drools appreciatively as media personality Theresa Roncon awards his medal, while proud family Darrell and Koby Unger look on.