That garage door is acting up again,” Eric Russell told his wife, Betty, slipping on his winter coat and heading out the back door. Crossing 100 yards to the garage, the retired Tehkummah, Ontario, mechanic grabbed his tallest ladder so he could fix the chain-and-pulley mechanism that worked the 13-foot door.
But just as he finished up, the heavy door plunged to the ground and the large spring lashed back, coiling like a snake around Eric’s sleeve and wrenching his arm from its socket. Writhing in pain, the 69-year-old was trapped, high on the ladder, his arm twisted back, unable to move an inch. Minutes ticked by. The circulation to his arm was cut off, and he could feel it growing numb. I’m going to lose my arm! he panicked. “Help!” Eric called, yet there was no one to hear his cries. Or so he thought.
Across the street in her townhouse, Mary Johnston, 72, was deep into a mystery novel while her cat, Nellie, and newly adopted kitty, Ivy, napped on the couch nearby. Suddenly, Ivy, normally standoffish, bounded onto Mary’s lap. Then, letting out a loud purr, she leapt onto the front windowsill, staring intently outside. “Meeeeooow!” she let out a prolonged howl, as if to say: Please! Someone needs help!
“What’s going on, Ivy?” Mary wondered, finally heading outside to investigate. As she got closer to the garage, Mary could hear moaning — and, dashing over, she gasped to see Eric! “Get…help!” he pleaded.
Mary raced to get Betty, who called 911. Thankfully, firefighters were able to free Eric. “Thank you, Mary!” he breathed as they loaded him into an ambulance. Yet Mary knew who the real hero was: Ivy!
In the ER, doctors relocated Eric’s shoulder, and although he had severe nerve damage, they promised that with physical therapy, he’d make a full recovery. “You were very lucky. Another few minutes, and we would have had no choice but to amputate your arm,” doctors told him.
When Eric learned it was Ivy who had come to his rescue, he marveled, “That is one very special cat!” And once home, he thanked his furry hero in person and rewarded her with a gift card to a local pet store. Mary used the card to buy a cat tree, and she’s placed it directly in front of the window, where Ivy and Nellie play.
“I still can hardly believe that my rescue cat rescued someone!” Mary beams. “It’s no wonder they had trouble finding Ivy a home before: She was meant to be here, watching over all of us!”
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Animal Heroes.