It was New Year’s Eve and Brittany Cosgrove was in a very deep sleep.
She woke to her brand-new dog, Leo, barking incessantly. She had brought him home from Ottawa to her Vancouver apartment only a week before.
At first, Cosgrove thought Leo was barking because there was someone in the house. She got up to check it out and discovered a fire was burning through her apartment.
“When I opened my bathroom door, I saw fire dripping from the ceiling onto the floor and there was a big, black hole in the bathroom,” Cosgrove told HuffPost Canada in an interview. The fire alarm in her building did not go off.
Brittany Cosgrove kisses her Biewer Yorkshire terrier, Leo. (Photo: Purina Animal Hall of Fame)
“Leo was my fire alarm,” Cosgrove said. “I don’t even think I would be here if Leo wasn’t here.”
Her pup is one of three dogs being honoured by Purina for saving their owners' lives. The Purina Animal Hall of Fame inducts three pets every year who have done something incredible to help humans.
“I don’t even think I would be here if Leo wasn’t here.”
— Brittany Cosgrove
Cosgrove and the other owners will receive $5,000 and a year's supply of Purina food for their heroic pets.
“It just takes my breath away,” Cosgrove said of the honour. The prize money “will jump start me to get my life back together again,” she said. After the fire, her belongings were all taken away because the building had asbestos.
She said the Purina Animal Hall of Fame shows that animals' senses "can be even better than ours.”
Leo is one of three dogs being honoured by Purina for saving lives. (Photo: Purina Animal Hall of Fame)
The other winners this year were:
- Skylar, who got help for his owner Grace Goheen after she broke a hip and was stranded alone for hours without a phone
- Becky Jo, who helped her owner Tracy Matkea after she was knocked unconscious and dragged through the desert by a horse.
Animals need to be recognized for the "selfless" things they do for people, said Goheen.
“Skylar lay down beside me, and by this time it was quite dark," she said in an interview. "But this sense of peace came over me and my fears disappeared. I thought ‘I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I’m going to be OK.’”
A neighbour had heard strange noises — which were actually Goheen calling for help — and drove over to check it out.
Grace Goheen's dog Skylar alerted a neighbour after she fell and broke her hip. (Photo: Purina Animal Hall of Fame)
“Hallelujah!” Goheen thought when she saw the headlights. “I said to my dog, ‘There’s Mike. Go find Mike!’”
Skylar ran to retrieve a mitten she had dropped hours before, bringing it to Mike and eventually leading him to where Goheen was stranded.
“We have a language. People have words," Goheen said. "But dogs do heroic deeds that speak for themselves.”
Watch the video above for the pet owners' harrowing stories.
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