September 11, 2015 | Posted in Rescue Dogs

Swansea_Jack_memorial-400PX

Swansea Jack Memorial

The sweetest thing about being a dog is that the animal invariably does his species proud. And that is why dogs are such beautiful creatures. Of course, many through their actions leave an indelible imprint on our collective conscious and reinvigorate our faith in and love for in dogs.

One such dog was Swansea Jack. He was born in1930 and made his first rescue in 1931. He died in 1937 after tragically consuming rat poison. In all probability Swansea Jack was a flat coated retriever. He sported long black hair. Back then, he was often mistakenly represented as a Newfoundland dog.

Swansea Jack lived around the docklands of River Tawe with his master William Thomas. Being a retriever, Jack was a good swimmer and his retrieving instincts no doubt helped him in dragging ashore floundering people. He is credited with having saved twenty seven lives. That’s the kind of record that would make a war dog proud. His first rescue was that of a kid and second a drowning swimmer. The second feat earned him a silver collar from an appreciative city council.

Going by records of the time, Swansea Jack was a regular playmate of children who delighted in jumping into the waters of the dock. In 1936, his exploits earned him “The Bravest Dog of the Year” award from London Star newspaper.

The story of Swansea Jack is that of hope, courage, and niceness in trying times. Swansea of the thirties was a derelict town with its glory days as a copper mining town behind it. Employment was hard to come by for the locals and this included Jack’s master. Yet, man and dog stuck together and by the mid-thirties when Jack was famous both pet owner and pet were relatively better off. Jack had become Swansea Jack and a media celebrity in his own right. His rescues would attract mentions in the newspapers and he was easily Swansea’s most famous resident. In fact, according to some the informal appellation Swansea Jack that is applied to residents of the city is courtesy of the brave dog’s moniker. That may or may not be his legacy but what most certainly is his contribution to his beloved town is the selfless service he rendered while alive. It moved the town’s Borough Council chamber to discuss a suitable memorial for Jack. And indeed, on 21st October 1937 Jack was reburied at a suitable spot on the city’s promenade near St. Helen’s Rugby Ground. Today, an impressive memorial marks the spot.