TORONTO - A 14-year-old rescue dog who laid her life on the line to save her owner from a charging black bear is among the new inductees into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.
Organizers say Shelby and two other heroic hounds — all rescues — are being recognized for life-saving acts of perseverance and intuition.
Louise Robillard and Andy Chyc adopted Shelby to help protect their 14-hectare property in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., from predators such as foxes and coyotes.
In April 2018, Robillard was walking Shelby, a German shepherd and Chesapeake Bay retriever mix, when they noticed three black bear cubs near a trail.
When the mother bear came charging for Robillard, Shelby leapt into action.
"Shelby ran quickly between the bear and Louise and stood her ground in an effort to protect her owner," Purina said in a hall-of-fame summary.
"The bear slammed into Shelby, and both animals rolled around on the ground, before disappearing into some bushes, still fighting. From where she stood and watched, all that Louise could hear were shrieks from Shelby."
Having heard from a neighbour there was a bear in the area, Chyc ran down to warn Robillard. He heard screaming, and then there was silence.
Together, Robillard and Chyc began walking back to safety, believing the bear had killed their beloved pooch.
And then, Shelby limped out from the bushes — seriously injured, but still alive.
Over the next four months, Shelby underwent several operations, had her wounds drained and braved several physiotherapy sessions.
Robillard believes had it not been for Shelby's heroic actions, she wouldn't be around to tell her tale.
"Shelby’s heroic efforts are a perfect example of the strong protective instincts that dogs have. Dogs that have a strong bond with their humans will often act in altruistic ways, sacrificing their own well-being for that of their family members," Ragen McGowan, a senior scientist in Purina's behaviour group, said in a statement provided by the company.
Also being recognized is Tucker, a six-year-old shepherd and Rottweiler mix, who alerted his family to a fire that engulfed their home in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.
Rounding out this year's honourees is Rosco, a three-year-old large shepherd mix from Calgary, who helped his owner's father seek medical attention while suffering a stroke.
Since 1968, 182 animals have been inducted into the hall of fame, including 154 dogs, 27 cats, and a horse.