Honourable Mentions - Koby & Smiley
TORONTO, ONTARIO & WHITCHURCH-STOUFFVILLE, ONTARIO
Meet Koby, a five-year-old German Shepherd, Border Collie and Husky mix from Toronto and his owner, Emily Sweet. After enduring bullying, severe depression and anxiety during her highschool years, Emily rescued Koby, trained him to be her service dog and petitioned to have him join her at school. After much campaigning, Koby was the first self-trained service dog in history to be allowed into a Canadian school and now this program is available to millions of students across the country – previously students were required to go through an official organization, where waitlists were often years long and fees were up to $20,000.
Koby’s support has positively changed Emily’s outlook on life, helping her graduate from school, enroll in university and go on to publicly speak about her experiences. Purina understands the impact that pets can have on mental health and is proud to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s work around the bond between people and animals, including research and pet therapy.
Smiley was a beloved therapy dog from Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON, who was known for his irresistible grin and ability to put smiles on the faces of those he met. Born without eyes and a form of canine dwarfism, Smiley spent his first two years in horrific conditions at a breeding kennel before being rescued and adopted by his owner Joanne George. By the time he passed away at the age of 16 from cancer in October 2017, Smiley had amassed a huge following of more than 200,000 devoted Instagram fans who would turn to him for the kindness, joy and hope he made them feel. Since 2010, Smiley has helped countless people as a child therapy dog, comforting hospital patients, children with autism, and those living in nursing homes alike.