Persistent poodle who saved baby’s life named to Animal Hall of Fame

Published: May 7, 2008 | 7025th good news item since 2003

Five family pets were honoured for their courage and loyalty on Monday, including a Saskatoon dog who is credited with saving the life of a newborn baby abandoned on a family’s back porch on a frigid February day.

The five pets — pooches hailing from Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — were inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in Toronto after they all performed acts that ultimately saved the life of a human being.

Peeka, a five-year-old Lhasa Apso poodle, began to whine and bark incessantly at the back door of the family home on the morning of Feb. 3, 2007. Peeka would not let up until owner Ed Anderson decided to look outside and see whether there was a reason for the animal’s outburst.

There on the back porch, in the –29 C weather, Anderson spotted a sleeping infant girl, wrapped in a towel and a comforter.

Anderson called police while his wife, a registered nurse, cared for the baby.

Police searched for the girl’s mother, who finally came forward two days later. The woman, just 18, had given birth at home after keeping her pregnancy a secret from her family by wearing loose clothing.

Scared and confused, the new mother bundled up the newborn and took the baby to the doorstep of a home in her neighbourhood where she thought the child would be safe. Outside the Andersons’ house, she saw that the light was on and could hear a dog barking.

She put the six-hour-old baby down but didn’t ring the doorbell, expecting that someone would find the infant soon.

The mother was not charged, and her baby was taken into the custody of the Saskatchewan Community Resources Department.

The other pets inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame include:

* Corey, a miniature schnauzer from North York, Ont., who dragged its owner, Jay Sobel, over to a neighbour’s yard while the two were on a walk in May 2007. The neighbour, 80-year-old Jack Turner, had fallen into his pool and was unable to get out, struggling under the weight of his wet, heavy clothing. Sobel pulled Turner from the chilly pool water and called an ambulance, and Turner was treated in hospital for hypothermia, as well as a mild heart attack. Now, whenever Corey walks by Turner’s house, Sobel says, the animal always checks whether Turner is OK.

* Freddie, a German shepherd from St. Catharines, Ont., who rescued its owner, Mike Hambling, after he fell through the ice near his cottage in Coldwater, Ont., last year. Hambling was trying in vain to pull himself out of the icy water and was starting to black out when he felt a strong tug at his wrist. Freddie’s leash was still wrapped around his arm, and Freddie pulled him out of the water and to safety.

* Maggie May, a weaten terrier from Winnipeg, who jumped on its owner’s chest and started licking her face frantically as she took a nap in November. Suann DeCourcey woke up and realized her carbon monoxide alarm was ringing, something she says she never would have heard if her dog hadn’t woken her up because she is deaf in one ear. DeCourcey and the dog escaped the house, which had filled with dangerously high levels of gas.

* Missy, a service dog from Hamilton, who was tasked with detecting her owner’s panic attacks and epileptic seizures. But last year, she started barking furiously at the side of her owner’s family friend, Barb Langley. Her barking alerted another friend to the fact that Langley was having a stroke. She was taken to hospital and credits her full recovery to the dog’s persistence.

A total of 138 animals have been inducted into Canada’s Animal Hall of Fame in the past 40 years — 114 dogs, 23 cats and a horse.

Published in Animals
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