Swansea Jack: The Black Retriever who Saved 27 People

The story of Swansea Jack is a relatively unknown one. It all started in 1930 when the young pup was born into the hands of Taulford Davies a young british man. Shortly after when Swansea Jack was a puppy he often attacked ducks in a local park where he destroyed the population. It was at this time the young pup was given to William Thomas who cared for the dog at his home on the shore of a river. 

As Jack made himself at home in his new place of residence he got more accustomed to the ocean and made his first save shortly after in June of 1931. A young boy was disposing of some garbage near the shore when he got into a scuffle and soon was dragged into the dangerous waters. Lucky the retriever saved the boy from the water and was dragged back to shore by the heroic dog. 

However, Jack’s legend really started with his second save during the month of July when he saved a distressed swimmer from drowning. As he pulled the swimmer to shore many onlookers stood watch and spread word of the dog’s heroic deeds. It was such a miraculous save that Jack ended up on the evening newspaper 

As time went on Jack saved more and more people from drowning. His tally of saved people eventually rose to 14 by 1934, but it might be higher as his owner was illiterate and unable to keep track of all of Jack’s heroics. But as time went on the dog garnered national attention and claimed a few awards for his heroic acts on the mouth of the river. As time went on his official save count rose to 27 which made him a local legend in Wales.

Sadly though Jack swallowed some fatal poison at age seven and died from the act. His body rests to this day at a memorial that still stands on the promenade near St Helen’s Rugby Ground. 

The amazing tale of hero dog Swansea Jack who saved 27 lives...but met a  gruesome end - Wales Online




Fala The Scottish Terrier: FDR’s Constant Companion

Back in November of 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was given what would come to be one of the greatest gifts he would ever receive. Mrs. Augustus G. Kellog gifted him a young black Scottish Terrier named “Big Boy” as an early Christmas gift. And by the time FDR received the dog he was already around six months old and very well trained by FDR’s cousin Margaret Suckleywhich, making him fit to live in the esteemed White House.

The President quickly renamed the terrier ‘Murray the Outlaw of Falahill’ after a Scottish ancestor and before long the dog was soon being referred to as Fala. The young pup quickly adapted to life at the White House. While there he would sleep at the foot of the President’s bed and enjoy a bone brought to him every morning that accompanied the President’s breakfast tray. 

Roosevelt and Fala grew very close over the years. His faithful terrier would follow him almost everywhere he went and would accompany the President on his trips across the US and internationally. Before long Fala became a national icon in his own right. The little dog had two movies made about his time in the White House and even starred in a short run of political cartoons titled “Mr. Fala of the White House”. 

Eventually, his fame grew so great that a secretary was hired to answer thousands of fan letters that he received constantly. However, Fala soon caused the President to come under fire when a Republican congressman falsely accused him of spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a naval destroyer to pick up Fala who was accidentally left behind on a trip. This soon led to FDR’s famous Fala speech where he defended himself humorously while addressing the Teamsters Union.

Unfortunately, President Roosevelt passed away on April 12th,1945. Fala attended the funeral font and center to honor his deceased master and best friend. Fala spent the rest of his days with Mrs. Roosevelt where he was loved very much, but the terrier seemed lost without his beloved master. Mrs. Roosevelt is quoted in her autobiography writing “Fala accepted me after my husband’s death, but I was just someone to put up with until the master should return.”.

Fala died years later on April 5, 1952, and was buried in The Rose Garden near the President at their home in Hyde Park. This little dog captured the hearts of millions and was a loyal companion to his master which will be remembered for years to come.




Buddy The German Shepherd: America’s Original Seeing Eye Dog

Seeing eye dogs have become commonplace in society today due to the great benefits they provide to people who have lost their vision. Man’s best friend has helped many blinded people over the years to become more independent and lead fulfilling lives without relying on others with assistance navigating this crazy world. But do you know how these great pets came to be used so commonly today?

With how helpful dogs can be when it comes to seeing for those who are unable to, it is a surprise that seeing eye dogs didn’t become a thing till 1927. However, they may have never become such a popular tool today without the writings of Dorothy Eustis. She was an American philanthropist who lived in Switzerland and supplied trained dogs to the Red Cross and police forces. She also helped schools in Germany who just started training seeing eye dogs to help WW1 veterans who were blinded by mustard gas during their service. She wrote an extensive article on the matter which was met with much uncertainty by the public.

But one man named Frank Morris took notice of the article as his father read it to him at their estate in Tennessee one day. Morris had gone blind from accidentally hitting a tree while horseback riding as a child combined with an injury to the other eye during a boxing match when he was 16. Morris had been extremely frustrated for a while from having to rely on others to get around and live his everyday life. So when he heard of the new training of dogs taking place in Germany he immediately wrote to Eustis in Switzerland.

He wrote to her saying “Is what you say really true? If so, I want one of those dogs! And I am not alone. Thousands of blind like me abhor being dependent on others. Help me and I will help them. Train me and I will bring back my dog and show people here how a blind man can be absolutely on his own. We can then set up an instruction center in this country to give all those here who want it a chance at a new life.”  After hearing of his hardships and willingness to learn Eustis agreed to help. So Morris set out to Switzerland where he trained with a German Shepherd named Kiss which he immediately renamed Buddy.

After many weeks of hard training, Morris eventually learned how to navigate the local Swiss village with ease along with the navigational help of Buddy. So in 1928, he returned to America with his new companion Buddy and notified the media of his newfound seeing-eye dog. He was met with much skepticism so in order to demonstrate buddy’s skills he crossed one of the busiest streets in New York at the time. He recalled losing all sense of direction and surrendered himself to the dog he had so much trust in. Buddy navigated the busy street with buses and cabs screaming past and they eventually reached the other side successfully!

First blind man to use a seeing-eye dog was a Tennessean | TheNews |  Nashville Community Newspapers

After demonstrating the great benefits a dog could bring to those suffering from lost eye sight, Morris and Eustis then founded America’s first guide dog school in 1929 called The Seeing Eye. As he had promised Eustis in his letter years earlier, Morris then traveled the US from 1929-1956 spreading awareness of guide dogs and promoting equal access laws for people with seeing eye dogs. 

Thanks to Morris and his work, by 1956 every state in the US had passed laws allowing blind people with guide dogs access to public spaces. Now dogs are commonly used in our world today to help those with blindness! 




Pickles: The Dog Detective who Saved the 1966 World Cup

Back in March 1966, the Jules Rimet trophy was on display a few months before the World Cup was set to take place in London. One night while the trophy was resting in it’s display case for the night, the security guards on duty decided to take a short break. This soon turned out to be a mistake as when the guards returned they were shocked to find an empty case with no sign of the trophy. 

The event instantly made global headlines and the entirety of England was up in arms over the disappearance of the trophy that was entrusted to them. However, shortly after a ransom note was received from the alleged thief who called themselves “Jackson”. The note contained a small piece of the trophy and read that he was the one who had stolen the treasure. The thief had requested 15,000 pounds for its safe return so the authorities decided to go along with the request to stage an arrest for whoever showed up to accept the money. 

An undercover policeman met Jackson soon after with a briefcase stuffed to the brim with newspapers and a thin layer of 5-pound notes on the top. After the exchange of money, the man named Jackson was arrested and interrogated by police where they then came to find out that the man’s actual name was Edward Betchley. Even though an arrest was made Betchley claimed to only be a middleman for the operation so police were no closer to finding the missing trophy. 

Later on in the week on Sunday March 27th an amazing discovery by a young Border Collie named Pickles took place. While out on an evening walk Pickles found a package on the side of the street, so his owner Dave Corbett came over and found an object wrapped in newspaper and string. After tearing off some of the newspaper and some further inspection Corbett soon came to realize that the package was the famous Jules Rimet trophy!

Immediately after the find, Pickles and Corbett went to the local police station to present the trophy to the authorities. At first, Corbett was a prime suspect to the police. However, after hours of interrogation he was eventually released and given a cash reward for finding the trophy.

From that point on Corbett and especially Pickles became instant celebrities. Pickles was awarded a medal by the National Canine Defence League and received several other rewards. He even starred in a movie called ‘The Spy With a Cold Nose’.

From that year on, Pickles has been ingrained in the history books for his great detective work. You can find more information on Pickle’s story in the links below. 





Barry and the Great Saint Bernards of the Swiss Alps

The Great Saint Bernard Pass is one of the most treacherous passes in the world located 8,100 feet above sea level deep in the southwestern Pennine Alps the alpine frontier pass connects the northern tip of Italy to Switzerland. Along the pass found nuzzled in the side of the mountain sits The Great St Bernard Hospice where for almost 1,000 years the monastery has served as a resting spot for travelers along the route. Offering housing, food, and even sunday mass for anyone it was a staple among travelers at the time.

However, the hospice also serves another important role as it is the place, where the great Saint Bernards for which the pass was named after, reside. It has been reported that over the hospice’s lifespan these dogs have saved over 2,000 travelers’ lives who could not weather the dangerous pass. The dog’s keen sense of smell and thick fur coat makes them the ideal companion for guides when looking for stranded travelers within the deep snowy alps. 

Out of these incredible dogs one named Barry has rose to worldwide fame thanks to his heroic deeds performed within the mountains. Born in 1800 Barry stood at a solid 25 inches tall weighing close to 100 pounds. Although Barry is depicted nowadays to closely resemble the modern Saint Bernard he was actually a good deal smaller due to how new the breed was at the time.

It is estimated that Barry is responsible for saving the lives of over 40 people during his time at the hospice. Quite possibly his most famous rescue came when a young boy was trapped in an avalanche on the mountain and started to slowly freeze to death. But in heroic fashion, Barry showed up just in time to lick the boy warm, flip him on his back, and drag him back to base.

Fast forward to today and Barry’s remains are now on display at a special exhibit in the Natural History Museum in Bern Switzerland where his story is shared with thousands each year. Barry and the other Saint Bernards of The Great St Bernard Hospice have become a staple of Switzerland’s culture, where even in 1995 Barry was made the official hallmark of all precious metals and all fineness standards in Switzerland!

These dogs just go to show the amazing feats that can be achieved when working with our canine friends. Check out the links below to learn more about this fascinating part of history!