Ruth and Lady

Ruth and Lady, a two-year-old Akbash/Yellow Labrador/Border Collie cross and a seven-year-old Yellow Labrador/Border Collie cross respectively, demonstrated their incredible intelligence and ability to communicate quickly and effectively, the night they saved their owner Matthew Smith’s life.

It was a chilly afternoon in early April 2017 when Matthew Smith hit the road with his dogs, Ruth and Lady, to run a few errands in Kelowna, a town located 45 kilometers from his home. At around 8 p.m., Matthew decided to drive back home. While navigating a very steep road, 3 kilometers from his house, he lost control of his vehicle and crashed – falling down an embankment.

Matthew miraculously survived this fall but was severely injured. Although he managed to get himself, Ruth and Lady out of the truck, the severity of Matthew’s traumatic injuries, which included head trauma, a lacerated liver and multiple broken ribs, rendered him incapable of getting help, and he collapsed. The temperature soon dropped to zero degrees, and recognizing the seriousness of Matthew’s situation, Ruth and Lady lay on either side of him, hoping to keep him warm and comforted in the freezing conditions.

Hours later, a homeowner living nearby returned from work to find Ruth and Lady barking on his driveway, signaling him to follow them. The gentleman followed the dogs and discovered Matthew in critical condition, lying bleeding on the ground. He immediately called 911 and even after the emergency services arrived, Ruth and Lady refused to leave Matthew’s side, showcasing their loyalty and devotion to protect him.

Matthew is currently in the process of recovering from the terrible accident and thanks Ruth and Lady for saving his life. Without their quick-thinking, loyalty and exceptional communication skills, Matthew knows he would not have lived on to share his story.


Sabrina, a 12-year-old Whippet’s, loyalty and aptitude was put to the ultimate test when her owner Adele Schwartz had a horrific, almost fatal fall in the middle of the night.

It was 2a.m. one dark September morning, when Adele awoke to use the bathroom. She unfortunately took a wrong turn and tumbled down the basement stairs, hitting her head and instantly falling unconscious. Being a deep sleeper, Adele’s husband Bill didn’t hear a thing until Sabrina woke him by causing a commotion – nudging him repeatedly and pulling the comforter off their bed.

Typically, a calm and quiet dog, Bill was alarmed by Sabrina’s uncharacteristic behaviour and, after realizing Adele was no longer lying beside him, got out of bed to investigate what had happened. Sabrina led Bill to find Adele’s motionless body at the bottom of the stairs. Incredibly frightened and worried, Bill immediately called an ambulance.

Due to the fall, Adele had a fractured vertebra in her neck, a compression fracture in her back and her head had split open, causing a severe concussion that left her unconscious for three days. Adele stayed 10 more days in the hospital and several more months recovering.

Today, Adele says she owes her life to Sabrina. Had Sabrina not acted so quickly, Adele likely wouldn’t have survived the fall or suffered permanent brain damage.


Arik, an eight-year-old German Shepherd’s natural instinct and highly refined sense of hearing and smell were put to the ultimate test, when he came to the rescue of an elderly man who faced a near-fatal situation in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.

On March 3, 2017, Lloyd Stone, a very active 90-year-old, was out cross-country skiing, a regular leisure activity that he enjoyed. Suddenly, he hit some ice and fell on his side – breaking his hip and leaving him in excruciating pain. The intensity of the pain made it impossible for Lloyd to reach the nearby highway and starting to lose hope, he dipped in and out of consciousness.

Three hours later, at 8 p.m., it was getting dark when Lloyd’s neighbour Calvin Kuchta was driving by and recognized his car on the side of the road. He had seen it earlier while going to the gym, and thinking it was a little out of character for Lloyd to be out for so long and so late, Calvin headed home to collect his dog Arik to help him investigate.

Arik was an accomplished former police dog, so Calvin knew he needed Arik to be able to successfully find Lloyd. Unable to use Arik’s leash, Calvin creatively fastened a skipping rope around Arik’s neck to help him track Lloyd’s scent in the woods and returned to the area. As the duo searched deeper into the bush, they finally heard a man’s voice calling for help, triggering Arik into action.

Arik broke his skipping-rope-fashioned leash and bounded into the woods where he found Lloyd lying on the snow-covered ground. Calvin called 911 immediately and Lloyd was taken to a nearby hospital.

Had Arik not been there to help locate him so quickly, Lloyd would have likely suffered from severe hypothermia, and potentially frozen to death.

Honourable Mentions


Purina AHOF social KobyMeet Koby, a five-year-old German Shepherd, Border Collie and Husky mix from Toronto and his owner, Emily Sweet. After enduring bullying, severe depression and anxiety during her highschool years, Emily rescued Koby, trained him to be her service dog and petitioned to have him join her at school. After much campaigning, Koby was the first self-trained service dog in history to be allowed into a Canadian school and now this program is available to millions of students across the country – previously students were required to go through an official organization, where waitlists were often years long and fees were up to $20,000.

Koby’s support has positively changed Emily’s outlook on life, helping her graduate from school, enroll in university and go on to publicly speak about her experiences. Purina understands the impact that pets can have on mental health and is proud to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s work around the bond between people and animals, including research and pet therapy.


Purina AHOF social SmileySmiley was a beloved therapy dog from Whitchurch-Stouffile, ON, who was known for his irresistible grin and ability to put smiles on the faces of those he met. Born without eyes and a form of canine dwarfism, Smiley spent his first two years in horrific conditions at a breeding kennel before being rescued and adopted by his owner Joanne George. By the time he passed away at the age of 16 from cancer in October 2017, Smiley had amassed a huge following of more than 200,000 devoted Instagram fans who would turn to him for the kindness, joy and hope he made them feel. Since 2010, Smiley has helped countless people as a child therapy dog, comforting hospital patients, children with autism, and those living in nursing homes alike.