Friday, May 9, 2008
Dog honoured for alerting family to abandoned baby
Wendy Gillis, The StarPhoenix
Published: Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The unusual behaviour of his family dog Peeka first tipped Ed Anderson off that something strange was happening outside his door on a freezing winter day on Feb. 3, 2007.
But Peeka wasn't just acting up -- she helped save the life of a newborn infant girl, leading to Peeka's induction Monday into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame as a Canadian animal heroine.
When the six-year-old Lhasa Apso would not stop her persistent barking and scratching, Anderson looked out his back window, but could not see anything unusual. He called to his daughter Mariel to quiet the dog.
After she continued to make noise, Anderson knew Peeka was trying to tell him something.
"She usually alerts us when someone is walking down the street by barking and scratching at the door, but this time she was very persistent," he said.
Anderson opened the back door to his Lawson Heights home to find "a very big surprise" -- a newborn infant, bundled in a towel and sleeping bag, lying on the back porch.
The baby was found at around 10 a.m. when the temperature had dropped to -29 C, or -39 with the wind chill. Anderson's wife, Lee, is a registered nurse at St. Paul's Hospital and was able to tell the infant was only hours old and rushed her inside the house.
She was still breathing and had a pulse, but the infant was extremely red and wrinkled and was suffering from hypothermia.
The infant had only been on the porch for about 15 minutes before she was discovered; otherwise she would not have been able to survive the exposure to the extreme temperatures.
The baby had been abandoned by her 18-year-old mother only hours after she had given birth in her home by herself. The post-secondary student had no family in the city and had kept her pregnancy a secret. Saskatoon police did not pursue criminal charges against the woman, and instead ordered her to get education and counselling.
Since the woman did not ring the doorbell and the family did not hear a car pull up to the house, Anderson gives full credit to Peeka for finding the baby before it was too late.
"We had plans that morning and we would have been heading out the door, but if it hadn't been for the dog it would have been a lot later," he says.
Peeka, which means "little one" in Norwegian, was nominated for the award by a family friend without the knowledge of the Andersons. She was one of five dogs in Canada to receive the hall of fame award, now in its 40th year.
Anderson, who flew to Toronto to accept the award, was filled with pride following the ceremony.
"She really is such a lovable pet," he said.