September 11, 2015 | Posted in Rescue Dogs
Peter was a Scotch Collie born in 1941. His owner, Mrs. Audrey Stables of Birmingham had purchased the pup for twenty five shillings. And she likely had occasions to regret the purchase. Peter was a bully of a dog who enjoyed picking up fights with neighborhood dogs, did not follow instructions, and reveled in destroying things in the Stables household.
In June 1944, Peter was offered for war service. He was called upon to report for training in September and was handed over to Air Ministry dog-handler Archie Knight with whom he struck an enduring relationship. Under Knight, Peter, now known as Rescue Dog No. 2664/9288 Peter, underwent training to become a Rescue Dog at Staverton Court in Gloucestershire. He learnt fast and picked up life saving techniques. After completing the course Peter was attached with the London Region Civil Defense Headquarters and posted to Civil Defense Depot 1, housed in Cranmer Court, Chelsea. His job was to search for casualties trapped under debris that would result from rocket attacks on the city’s infrastructure. Peter is credited with saving six lives and guiding rescue workers accurately to where fatalities were buried. His speed and enthusiasm for working tirelessly earned him the respect and admiration of Knight. In Knight’s own words, as he relates a particular operation “There were so many calls for Peter that I worked him 10 hours and he never once refused to give all he had. All his marks revealed casualties.” On one memorable occasion, rescue workers guided by Peter and strong language emanating from the debris, dug furiously. To the surprise of all involved, the head of an African Grey Parrot popped up at the end of the tunnel, no doubt frustrated and irritated by the events.
After the war, Peter was used to train other dogs and demonstrate mountain training techniques.
Peter came forward to be counted when it mattered most for his country. And a grateful nation did its best to repay its debt. Pete was awarded the Dickin Medal in 1945. His citation read – ‘For locating persons trapped under blitzed buildings while serving with the M.A.P., attached to the Civil Defense Service of London’.
The following year the scotch braveheart was granted an audience with British Royalty; the young Queen Elizabeth II gave the lovable pooch a kiss on his shiny nose. What a moment it must have been for both. The long years of the canine warrior’s devotion culminated in that reward by an adoring princess. How many from us, yeoman, squire, knight or dog can claim to have earned a kiss from a princess? Queen Elizabeth is still the monarch of England and is a healthy 87 years old. Am sure, pigeonholed in her memory, among the many other wondrous events from her life, is the 1946 Civil Defense Stand–Down parade when she came face-to-face with our hero.
Peter lived out the rest of his life with his owner Mrs. Stables. He left this world for the happy hunting grounds in November, 1952. Peter lies buried at the Ilford Animal Cemetery.