Friday, September 12, 2008

Swansea Jack - Jac Tawe

The subject of Welsh history that is partially lost in myth reminds me of something I was told about when I was still in school. I remember being told the story of "Swansea Jack" (or "Jac Tawe") and then being given a picture of a dog in a baseball cap to colour in. Anyway, while I was on the hunt for information on Dilwyn I decided to look up about Swansea Jack too. And here's what I found:


Swansea Jack (1930 - October 1937) was a famous dog whose name lives on in the nickname given to natives of Swansea, Wales.

Many people believe that this stems from the famous dog of that name. Others claim that the derivation is from the nickname given to Swansea's sailors, who had a reputation as skilled and dependable mariners. Another theory is that the coal miners of nearby coalfields called the miners from Swansea "Jacks" because their lunch-boxes were uniquely made of Swansea tin and called Jacks. A noted pub in Swansea is also named Swansea Jack, in honour of the dog.

The dog, Swansea Jack, was a flat-coated retriever born in 1930. He lived in the North Dock / River Tawe area of Swansea with his master, William Thomas. Jack would always respond to cries for help from the water, diving into the water and pulling whoever was in difficulty to safety at the dockside.

His first rescue, in June 1931, when he saved a 12-year-old boy, went unreported. A few weeks later, this time in front of a crowd, Jack rescued a swimmer from the docks. His photograph appeared in the local paper and the local council awarded him a silver collar.

In 1936, he had the prestigious 'Bravest Dog of the Year' award bestowed upon him by the London Star newspaper.

He received a silver cup from the Lord Mayor of London and he is still the only dog to have been awarded two bronze medals ('the canine V.C.') by the National Canine Defence League (now known as Dogs Trust).

Legend has it that in his lifetime he saved 27 people from the Docks / River Tawe.

Swansea Jack died in October 1937 after eating rat poison. His burial monument, paid for by public subscription, is located on the Promenade in Swansea 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.


Intense Guy said...

What a stirring story and such a great role model for Kero!


Tori_z said...

Only problem with him being a role model for Kero is that Kero says, "that's all very well for him, but 1) he's bigger than me and would be able to drag those people easier. And 2) You wouldn't catch me in the water, thank you very much!"


KAYLEE said...

Thats cool and I updated my blog :)

LadyStyx said...

Great story. LOL@ your response to iggy's comment!!

ChicagoLady said...

That's a great story, Tori. Maybe Kero can work on smaller creatures like mice or cats, lol.

Intense Guy said...

I bet Kero when he sleeps dreams about being a big heroic rescue dog - he's probably got that big heart that he needs already.

Tori_z said...

Will go take a look later...

Glad you enjoyed the post... And my comment. ;)

I'll suggest it to him... LOL!

I know he's got the big heart... It's the courage he's missing. Bless him!