Swansea Jack was born in 1930 and lived with his owner, William Thomas by the North Dock/River Tawe in the town of Swansea in Wales. As a Black Retriever and a “water dog” it was appropriate he lived near the river where he would earn his fame.
Jack’s First Rescue
One day in June of 1931, Jack saw a 12 year old boy drowning. Jack sprang into action! Responding to his cries for help, Jack ran into the river, grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck, and pulled him to shore. This story went unreported except by the boy who rescued. Had this been his only rescue, the world might never have learned of Jack’s talents.
Jack the Hero
But the rescue of the 12 year old boy was only the beginning.
A few weeks later, Jack rescued another struggling swimmer.
And this time there were witnesses. He was photographed for the local paper and even earned a silver collar from the local council.
This was not the end of his heroic rescue efforts. It’s reported that over the next decade, Jack saved at least 27 people from what was considered to be the most dangerous river in all of Wales.
The Famous Swansea Jack
For his exploits, Jack was awarded numerous accolades. In addition to the Silver Collar, he was named “Bravest Dog of the Year”, The Mayor of London’s Silver Cup, and Two Bronze medals by the National Canine Defence League. His heroic exploits were cut short in 1937 when he died after ingesting rat poison.
A statue was erected in his honor and his memorial is situated on the Promenade by St. Helen’s Rugby Ground. In addition, in the year 2000, Swansea Jack was named the “Dog of the Century” by a group that trains dogs in water rescue, the NewFound Friends of Bristol.
And his name is still recognized today. He is believed to be the inspiration for the Swansea’s English Premier League team, “The Swansea Jacks.”
Photo Credit for Plaque: Swansea Museum, UK
Photo Credit for Memorial: Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0–