Leo

Leo, a Biewer Yorkshire terrier, from Ottawa, Ontario, was just four months old when his new owner Brittany Cosgrove, 26, adopted him from a local breeder. And, it was only a few days following this adoption that he showed his owner just how much determination and devotion even a small, young puppy can have.

In December 2016, only 10 days into their new relationship, Brittany brought Leo with her to her Vancouver apartment following a visit home for the holidays with her family in Ottawa. 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. So 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.
Brittany thought at first Leo was warning her about an intruder. It was only when she attempted to go into her bathroom – which neighboured the very bedroom she had been sleeping in minutes before – that she witnessed 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. The fire started to spread even more – becoming increasingly uncontrollable.

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. Since no smoke detectors went off that night, the other residents wouldn’t have known to evacuate if Brittany hadn’t called the fire department in time. 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.

A few weeks after the incident and after 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.

Skylar

Skylar, a three-year-old, golden retriever from Port Hope, Ontario, exemplifies all of the well-known characteristics of his breed – a sweet, energetic and caring companion to his owner Grace Goheen, 74.

On a cold December afternoon in 2015, Grace set out for a walk with Skylar in a secluded wooded valley located two and a half kilometers from their home. Like any dog, Skylar loves to explore the great outdoors, so on this particular day, Grace extended his leash to 20 feet as they meandered through the valley. After wandering for some time, Skylar smelled something intriguing and ran ahead. As Skylar set off to investigate, Grace slipped and fell on the hard ground, breaking her hip.

In excruciating pain, and despite numerous efforts, Grace could not get back on her feet. Since she had no cell phone to call for help, she attempted the journey back home by pulling her body backwards using her arms and her good leg. However, still a great distance from home, she realized the enormity of her situation and that it would be impossible for her get there on her own.  After an hour passed and through sheer exhaustion, Grace gave up and began to cry out of pain, desperation and fear of what might happen if they weren’t found soon. It was getting dark and having previously heard the howls of bears and coyotes in the area, she was petrified of the dangerous wildlife that roamed there at night.

A short time later, Grace decided to unleash Skylar, but based on their incredibly close bond he wouldn’t leave her side. She then began to yell for help in hopes that someone would hear her, but also knew full well that no one usually came to the area this time of year. Her clothes were now completely drenched through to her skin from the melted snow and to make matters worse, a cold rain started to fall. With little hope of being rescued, Grace lay on the ground, shivering profusely and overcome with emotion.

Finally, two bright headlights appeared in the distance and, much to Grace’s relief, it was her neighbour, Mike who was driving nearby. Grace urgently prompted Skylar to, “go find Mike!” but to her confusion, he ran in the opposite direction of the headlights. It soon became clear that Skylar was in fact thinking ahead and wanted a signal to help alert Mike of the situation. Skylar ran back to the spot where Grace had dropped her mittens hours prior, picked one up in his mouth and ran back towards the headlights.

Stopping his truck, Mike looked over to see Skylar running towards him. Concerned about why the dog was all alone, he noticed Skylar holding a mitten in his mouth. Based on this, Mike understood Skylar was trying to tell him something. So he got out of his truck and followed Skylar into the bush – where he eventually discovered Grace lying injured on the ground and shaking from the cold. Amazed by how Skylar guided him there, Mike immediately covered Grace with his jacket and called the paramedics. Grace was taken to the hospital, treated for hypothermia and admitted to surgery to fix her hip.

Over a year later, Grace has now fully recovered from the accident – 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.

Becky Jo

Becky Jo is an attentive five-year-old Australian shepherd/border collie cross from Edmonton, Alberta who is a loyal companion to her owner Tracy Matkea. Every year, Tracy and her husband Butch spend the winter at their ranch in Morristown, Arizona – where they raise and train horses for barrel racing. Tracy, who has long been active on the rodeo circuit, often brings Becky Jo with her while out training on horseback in the desert terrain. One morning Becky Jo proved to be much more than her trusted sidekick.

January 10, 2016 began just like any other day. Tracy embarked on a test ride with a young horse and ventured down a dry riverbed 500 yards from her home, with Becky Jo 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 and rocky desert terrain for almost a kilometer. Eventually Tracy’s foot came loose and the horse returned to the ranch house without her.

When the horse arrived home without Tracy Butch was very confused, but only realized that something much more alarming had happened when Becky Jo also returned alone. Upon her arrival, Becky Jo started circling the driveway and barking repeatedly to alert him that something was terribly wrong. In a panic, Butch hopped onto an ATV and followed Becky Jo almost five kilometers from the family home to find Tracy lying motionless on the ground and bleeding profusely.

Butch immediately took Tracy to the nearest hospital. There they determined that based on the extent of her injuries she needed to be airlifted to Phoenix. There she received lifesaving treatment for the serious injuries she endured, including extreme facial and head lacerations, a broken orbital bone and a major concussion.

More than 100 stitches and staples later, Tracy has made a full recovery and truly owes her life to Becky Jo. Without Becky Jo’s quick thinking and fast action, Tracy could very well have lost her life that day. According to doctors, had she been left bleeding for 10 minutes longer she wouldn’t have survived. Tracy always knew in her heart that Becky Jo was a smart dog and now knows that it was this intelligence that ultimately saved her life.

Coco

Purina Better Together Award – Kim and Coco’s Story: I never ever wanted a dog but my husband and daughters talked me into taking get Coco – a 2 year old dog who was being given away because his owner was going away to school and her mom was a nurse and worked long hours and didn’t have the time to dedicate to Coco. I was a bit resentful when the first minute he walked into my brand new home he decided to leave a present for me right on my kitchen floor. I had only agreed to take him for the weekend for a trial run and after this little incident couldn’t wait to send him back to his own home. That night however seeing him jump on my daughter’s beds and sniffing them to ensure they were ok – melted my heart and I instantly fell in love with him and he became my third child. Two years later my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. My whole family was devastated to say the least. She deteriorated quickly over the next 8 months and just to breathe was a struggle. The picture I have submitted is a day close to the end of her life. Normally Coco is always in the kitchen waiting for food to drop but this particular day and every day after he went right into the living room where my mother’s hospital bed was and laid beside her and never left her side until we would leave to go home. After my mother’s passing my father was very lonely after living with my mom for 50 years – he was a lost soul without her. Coco and I would go visit him often and Coco would jump on his lap every time and he brought comfort and joy to my dad each and every time. He is a blessing from God to our family and I’m not sure what we will ever do without him when the time comes. The love I feel for him is so strong and I can’t believe there was ever a time when I didn’t want a dog. He is our hero each and every day.