This famous dog identified as a Newfoundland with a coat of shaggy black hair, although he looked more like a retriever. Newfoundlands are trained for water rescue but Swansea Jack was deathly afraid of the water, although no one knows why.
Jack was born in the year 1930 and lived with Taulford Davies. When he was a pup, Davies would take him to Parc Llewellyn to play. There were many ducks there and he loved to chase ducks and eliminated many and because of this, he was relocated to a different owner.
His new owner discovered that he was reluctant to enter the water even though dogs are normally natural swimmers. To overcome this fear his owner had him swim with the towns
, local boys. Jack learned that by holding onto the boys’ collars, he could drag them to shore and consequently he overcame his fear.
The docks of Swansea city were busy and dangerous, and during that time most people didn’t know how to swim. Bodies were often found floating in the murky water of the river where they had drown.
A 12-year-old boy got to close to the bank, slipped, and fell into the deep water. Jack, seemed to be in the right place at the right time and this was no different. He saw him fall, jumped in, and pulled him back to safety. making this his first rescue at the age of 9 months.
His second rescue was when a swimmer was trying to cross the mouth of the river near the Swansea West Pier and got into distress. The canine saw him struggling, leaped into the water, and pulled him out, and was deemed a hero.
Onlookers were watching and were amazed at his immediate actions, so much so that the Evening Post noted that he had rescued 14+ people.
Jack’s heroics were gaining national media attention as well as the international press, people loved reading about him saving lives. His rescues weren’t just humans, he also pulled a dog from the muddy river, and another time he saved puppies from drowning by pulling the sack they were in out of the water.
He received many awards due to his many rescues. The only dog that the Canine Defence League awarded two bronze medals or the VC (Victorian Cross) for canines Jack honored him as a life-saver, the ceremony was held at the steps of Swansea’s Guildhall where there were presentations and photographs.
Sadly Jack didn’t have a long life, at the age of seven he swallowed some poison and suffered a slow and painful death. Rat poison was quite common and in conclusion, it was never known whether it was deliberate or just plain carelessness on the part of the town.
Outraged at the death of this famous dog, a reward of £25 was offered by The Canine Defence League. The local paper launched a campaign to put up a memorial in honor of this 4 legged hero.
Jack was buried in Treboeth, but his body was exhumed and was reburied under his memorial on the promenade near St Helens’s Rugby Ground.
The memorial reads: “Erected to the memory of Swansea Jack, the brave retriever who saved 27 human and two canine lives from drowning. Loved and mourned by all dog lovers. Died October 2nd, 1937 at the age of seven years. Ne’er had mankind more faithful friend than thou who oft thy life didst lend to save some human soul from death. Owner and trainer Wm. Thomas”
(quoted from -walesonline.co.uk)
Jack was named the Dog of the Century in 2000, by the Newfound Friends Of Bristol, a foundation that trained the domestic dogs in water rescue. The legend of Jack Swansea had many tributes and lives on, a pub took on his name Swansea Jack Pub. The story of a dog who overcame his fear of water and went on to save people’s lives has lived on for centuries-The memorial of Jack Swansea ( video by BBC News)