Chyrl Fields and her cat Meskie of Port Elgin, and formerly of Murray Corner, were in Toronto this week for a ceremony during which the 17 year-old cat was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame. The cat was honoured for saving Fields life during a fire which destroyed their home on August 8, 2013. Here, the pair poses for photos after the ceremony, with Meskie wearing her medal of honour. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
Animals are an important part of many people’s lives. For many they provide companionship, unselfish devotion and endless joy; but only a handful are devoted enough to risk their lives to save their two-footed friends.
Each year for the past 46 years the Nestlé Purina Pet Care company has inducted five new animals into its Purina Animal Hall of Fame. A cat and her owner, formerly of Murray Corner and now living in Port Elgin, were in Toronto on Monday for the official 2014 induction ceremony.
Meskie, a 17-year-old Calico/Angora cat, her owner Chyrl Fields and a guest, Fields long-time friend Rose MacLelland, attended the annual ceremony at Purina PawsWay centre, during which Meskie was honoured. The still sprightly feline was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame for saving Fields life last August when their home was destroyed by fire.
On Thursday, August 8, 2013, Fields had fallen asleep in her recliner chair in her then-home in Murray Corner. Around 2 a.m. she was awakened when Meskie suddenly jumped onto her chest and began pouncing on her. At the time Fields said that type of behaviour was unusual for the normally quiet cat so she knew something was wrong.
She followed the cat into the kitchen and that’s when she saw fire and smelled smoke, quickly realizing her house was on fire. Grabbing Meskie she called 911 and left the house. Although local volunteer fire departments were soon at the scene the house was destroyed. The two have since moved to their new home at a senior’s apartment complex in Port Elgin.
Fields was notified earlier this year that Meskie was being considered for induction in the Purina Animal Hall of Fame; and more recently told that her brave cat would receive the honour. Fields and Meskie, along with MacLelland, flew to Toronto for four days, as guests of Nestlé Purina Pet Care.
This (trip) has been a wonderful experience . . . I thank God every day that Meskie saved my life. Chyrl Fields
During the Monday morning ceremony three dogs and one police service dog, along with Meskie, were honoured for the extraordinary actions they took to protect a human life, and demonstrating the unique and powerful bond that exists between animals and people.
“Every year, these stories not only capture our hearts, but the hearts of the entire country,” said Susan Molenda, vice president, Nestlé Purina PetCare. “This year’s Inductees overcame incredible obstacles such as a vicious black bear attack, a partially frozen river, a house fire and a dangerous criminal – literally putting their lives in harm’s way to keep humans safe.”
Over more than four decades the Purina Animal Hall of Fame has honoured pets and service dogs – including 136 dogs and 27 cats, and even a horse.
“We continue to be amazed by the enormous, life-changing impact an animal can have on all of us . . . At Purina, we feel it is extremely important to celebrate the lives of these loved ones . . .” Molenda said.
During the ceremony, Meskie was given a gold medal of honour and Fields spoke of her love and affection – and gratitude, for her cat.
“This (trip) has been a wonderful experience . . . I thank God every day that Meskie saved my life . . . I still get goose bumps thinking about it. To think that my 17-year-old cat had the intelligence enough to save my life . . . to wake me up and let me know we were in danger . . . it’s quite a story,” she said, pausing to wipe tears from her eyes.
Meskie’s name and picture will join those of other animal heroes on permanent display at the Purina Animal Hall of Fame in Toronto.