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Joseph Phillips-Garcia from Kanaka Bar B.C., (right) poses with his mother Fawn Adolph after being presented with a portrait of his dog Sako, at the Purina Animal Hall of Fame ceremony in Toronto on Monday, May 4, 2015.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

From the beginning, Joseph Phillips-Garcia had a special bond with Sako, his aunt's King Shepherd. Years later, that bond saved the boy's life.

Sako, of Kanaka Bar, B.C., is one of four animals that were honoured at the 47th annual Purina Animal Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Monday.

Last summer, Sako and Mr. Phillips-Garcia, 16, were thrown from a vehicle that had run off the road close to the small First Nations community near Lytton in B.C.'s Interior.

The family had been on a food-gathering outing in the mountains, when the crash happened as they travelled home, said Mr. Phillips-Garcia's mother, Fawn Adolph. The car plunged down a 100-metre embankment. Ms. Adolph's sister and two of Mr. Phillips-Garcia's cousins were killed.

But the boy lay unable to move with a broken femur and collarbone. The four-year-old dog cuddled up to him, keeping him warm, and helped him drag himself to a nearby creek for water. As nightfall set in, Sako made his only trip away from Mr. Phillips-Garcia, to fend off predators; the area's woods are full of big cats, bears and coyotes, according to local search-and-rescue officials.

The pair were together for 40 hours before they were rescued. His mother said family members were combing the area.

They got a lucky break when Mr. Phillips-Garcia's cousin's car broke down. That's when she heard Mr. Phillips-Garcia's cries for help, Ms. Adolph said.

"When I first saw him, it was absolutely amazing," she said in an interview. "Being able to hug him and him calling for me, it is breathtaking, no words can explain those feelings."

The boy and the dog reunited a week after the accident.

"He was truly grateful that the dog stayed with him," she said. They were stranded so close to home, the dog could have just as easily returned there.

"He was the runt of the litter," Ms. Adolph said. "The only one left."

Mr. Phillips-Garcia underwent hours of surgery and months of recuperation but was in Toronto on Monday to receive the honour on behalf of his dog.

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