It was a regular September day, and Lynn O’Connor was walking her two dogs, Jake and Kyra.

She had already wandered up and down the property lines of her Peterborough, Ont., home earlier that day. But now, something seemed off.

“Jake was staying very close. He seemed to be keeping an eye on me, which kind of made me wonder,” she recalled. “But, I didn’t think anything of it really because he did that all the time. He was always looking after us.”

That was when the bear attacked her. Out of nowhere, it lunged and knocked O’Connor on her back.

“It was a moment of horror,” she told CTV’s Canada AM. “I heard a really loud crashing in the woods and I looked up in that direction. There was a bear looking back at me and (it) immediately charged at me.”

Jake, the older of the two dogs, leapt in to protect her.

“I saw Jake jump in over top of me, which was amazing. Because of his age, he had mobility problems.”

Jake battled with the bear, trying to keep the attention on him rather than O’Connor. But eventually, the bear knocked him over and came at O’Connor once again. Next, Kyra jumped in and managed to get the bear to chase her down the trail, giving O’Connor time to call her husband.

“It was chasing after her. And I got my phone out and I was trying to dial…but my hands were shaking so much,” she said.

O’Connor was bitten in the thigh and upper stomach, but managed to survive the ordeal – something she attributes to the help of her two German Shepherds.

“I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for the two of them,” O’Connor said through tears. “They are very, very loyal dogs. I don’t think I can ever show them the gratitude I feel towards them.”

Jake died of old age in November. But he was still honoured on Monday, along with Kyra, as one of five animals inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.

Also inducted were:

  • Quanto, an Edmonton police dog who was fatally stabbed by a suspect fleeing a stolen vehicle;
  • Rocky, an eight-year-old Huskey-Labrador mixwho helped prevent the drowning of two young girls in the North Saskatchewan River; and
  • Meskie, a Calico-Angoramixed catwho warned her owner that their home was on fire

Since 1968, 136 dogs, 27 cats, and one horse have been recognized at the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.