Swansea Jack was a black retriever type dog who lived with his owner William Thomas near the River Tawe in Swansea in the 1930s. The story goes that one day, when he was just one year old, Jack saw a small boy drowning in the river and ran in to save him. He pulled the boy to safety by grabbing at the scruff of his neck. No-one was around to witness it but a few weeks later, Jack rescued another swimmer from the docks. This time there were witnesses who saw the drama unfold.
His photo was shown in the local paper and he was awarded a silver collar by the local council. Swansea Jack went on and rescued many more people from drowning. He was fearless and seemed to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time. And of course in those days, dogs roamed more freely than they do today.
Over the course of his lifetime Jack was reported to have saved at least 27 people from drowning.
Jack was given many awards. These include (as well as the silver collar by Swansea council), the Bravest Dog of the Year Award, a silver cup from the Mayor of London, and his very own statue. Sadly, in 1937, he died after eating rat poison. But Jack is still remembered in Swansea today. Some say that he was probably the inspiration for the nickname of Premier League football team Swansea FC. He has a memorial that was funded with public monies and it stands on the Promenade near St.Helen’s Rugby Ground.
In 2000, Swansea Jack was named ‘Dog of the Century’ by NewFound Friends of Bristol who train domestic dogs in aquatic rescue techniques.
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About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.