TORONTO, O.N. — A dog from Fort St. John is being honoured nationally for her heroic actions that saved her owner from what could have been a bear attack.
Raya, a four-year-old black Labrador Retriever-Norwegian Elkhound cross, was inducted into the Purina Annual Animal Hall of Fame in Toronto on Tuesday.
“Each year we receive and uncover countless stories of remarkable acts of animals saving human lives,” said Melissa Eckersley, Purina Animal Hall of Fame ambassador. “We feel very privileged to honour these extraordinary animals and share their stories with all Canadians.”
She had been trained to be the best companion in the great outdoors and wears a pack of essentials, following alongside Brent without straying.
In September, Raya’s owner Brent Cote was elk hunting with his mom, Trudy, and took Raya with them. The trio went hiking for several hours and turned in at dusk. Suddenly, a female bear charged at them to protect her young cub. It only took seconds for Raya to run out in front of Brent — which he hadn’t trained her to do — and start barking at the bear to ward it away.
“I’m so grateful she was there and reacted the way she did,” Brent said. “I know every dog I have from now on will be compared to her.”
The bear retreated, but not before charging a second and third time. Raya, however, stood her ground and kept the bear away, which eventually retreated for good and allowed for them to get back to their truck.
“I truly believe in my heart that, if she hadn’t been there, we would have been hurt severely or not here to tell the story,” said Trudy, tearfully. “We owe her our lives.”
Raya joins over 170 animals across Canada that have shown faithful companionship throughout the years. In the last 48 years, 172 animals have been inducted into the Purina Hall of Fame — 144 dogs, 27 cats, and even a horse.