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My Hero

My Hero

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My Hero

by michdwy on 6/1/2010 at 7:08 AM in Unexpected dangers

As an octogenarian I have owned and worked with many beautiful dogs, but my first one remains my greatest hero, as she saved both my life and also my mother's. Throughout the second world war I was a schoolboy, and as part of the war effort I had promised to spend all the summer holidays working on the same farm in the North of England, arranged by my school. In 1945 I found that a young black labrador gundog bitch had joined the animals at the farm. She had been trained to retrieve, but the farmer's son to whom she belonged, had lost his interest in shooting. Trixie as she was called was therefore neglected and spent most of the time left in the barn where she lived. In my spare time I used to take her walking in the fields and the farmer realising that we loved each other said he would like me to have her.

I had to write to my parents to ask if I could have her. They refused,and for the first time ever I disobeyed them and took her home with me. Times were different then and children normally did as they were told. I can still remember being afraid on the railroad journey home how they would react. My biggest worry was that Trixie, who had never been in a house and who was now over a year old, would not be clean in our home. My fears were groundless. My parents immediately succumbed to her charms, and she never once disgraced herself in the house.

I had just started rock-climbing and every opportunity used to go to the local crags to practise. I used to walk across the moors about six miles to reach the cliffs. Trixie of course went with me. Where I have lived all my life in Yorkshire is in a village just to the north of where the industrial revolution was born. The home of the "dark satanic mills". At this time this part of Yorkshire was the largest centre for the wool textile industry in the world, and consequently hundreds of chimneys belched out smoke from the coal-fired furnaces. As a result we too like London suffered very often extremely dense "pea-soup" fog or more correctly smog (smoke filled fog).

On this particularly misty autumn day, I set off after the climbing in the evening to recross the wild desolate moors to return home. The conditions were ripe for a thick fog to descend. Unusually I put Trixie on the leash as I did not want to lose sight of her if she saw rabbits or game birds. It soon became impossible to see more than a couple of feet in the dense smog which had descended, but having made this journey scores of times I was confident that I knew the way. As I continued virtually blind, Trixie suddenly froze and refused to go forward. She pulled backwards with all her strength. I was confident that I knew the way and became cross with her and tried to drag her. She then growled at me, an unheard of thing. This stopped me in my tracks and fortunately a sudden bit of wind cleared for a second the fog immediately in the direction I was attempting to pull her. We had gone round in a complete circle and were on top of a cliff. In a couple of steps we would both have been dashed 100 ft or so on to rocks below. She had undoubtedly saved both our lives. We had then to descend into the valley and follow the longer but safer route on the road home.

Trixie saved my mother's life when they walked across fields to visit friends at a farm near where we lived. My mother suffered with arthritis and needed a stick. It was only when she was in the centre of a large field that she realised the huge Angus bull was in a dip. At that time, bulls were always kept alone and never with the cows, except for a certain duty, consequently they were always bored and bad tempered. The bull seeing my mother immediately dashed at her, and Trixie did her best to defend my mother. She ran straight at the bull and was tossed in the air, but the courageous, intelligent dog must have realised that head-on was not sensible and probably instinctively adopted the herding dog's technique of going for the heels, possibly she had seen the Border Collies at her farm dealing with the cows that way. Despite her injuries she continued to attack the bull until my mother had managed to get out of the field. At the farm the vet was immediately summoned and Trixie's many injuries were treated. She had to have more than seventy stitches.

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