The Academy Awards of the pet world was held yesterday, honouring animals who acted to save a human’s life. Four new pets were inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, joining over 140 other life-saving pets (all cats and dogs, save one horse awarded in the ’70s) at the Harbourfront Centre’s PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre.
The group included Toronto’s own Nemo, a twenty-one-pound cat from Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue. His owner, Angela Papadimitriou, found out about the contest while searching the website for weight-control cat food. Nemo came to live with the Papadimitriou family after Angela replied to an ad looking for a home for a cat with “a big personality.” Her husband, Peter Papadimitriou, has had heart problems since birth, and she wanted a companion for him when he returned home after another stint in the hospital. One morning last September, Angela was awoken by Nemo’s meowing and swatting—abnormal behaviour for the generally affectionate cat who often favoured the man of the house. Angela turned over to see that Peter wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. She called 911, and the paramedics were able to revive him after one shock to the heart. Peter regained his health over a few months at Sunnybrook Hospital.
“People are attracted to this story because you don’t think of a cat as a hero,” Angela said. “You usually think of a dog because they are so loyal and cats are more aloof.” Although she is grateful for her beefy cat, Angela says now whenever she hears Nemo in the middle of the night she thinks something is wrong. “I can never get any sleep because I’m always checking on Peter.”
The other heroic pets included Ace, the Dutch shepherd service dog who found an Ontario woman lost in the snow alive after three days; Sophie, the Bichon frisé who warned her Albertan owner of her daughter in a diabetic coma; and Jarod, the British Columbian chow chow rescue dog who defended his owner from an aggressive black bear.
The pets all managed to hold their bladders after a couple of hours and being paraded down the red carpet to trimphant music right out of the Oscars. The only litter left behind in the hall were wads of tissue, left behind by the audience that cried like a group of grateful Halle Berrys.
Photos by Matt Kim/Torontoist.