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Sergeant Gander – A Canadian War Dog Hero

It was seventy years ago in December when Sergeant Gander gave the ultimate sacrifice serving his country in the Battle of Hong Kong during WWII.

Gander, a Newfoundland dog who started out as a mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada, became a hero for saving many lives of his regiment in the defence of Hong Kong Island during WWII.  Twice Gander’s attack halted enemy’s advance and in a final act of bravery, sensing the danger against a group of wounded Canadian soldiers under intense fire, Gander picked up a live grenade and ran with it in his mouth.  It exploded killing him in action.  Without Gander’s intervention and ultimate sacrifice, many more lives would have been lost.

Gander received the highest honor in bravery and was presented posthumously the Dickin Medal – often referred to as the animals’ Victoria Cross.  The ceremony took place in 2000, some fifty years after his death.  A look-alike Newfoundland dog named Rimshot stood in for Gander to receive the medal in a touching ceremony. The medal is now on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

At the insistence of survivors of the battle, Sergeant Gander’s name was listed with those of 1975 men and two women on the Hong Kong Veterans Memorial Wall, unveiled in Ottawa, Canada in 2009. A war dog hero honored, alongside his fellow soldiers, by his country and by the world.

Another war memorial is taking shape in New Brunswick on the east coast of Canada. The stature of Sergeant Gander will stand on guard for the brave men and women who sacrificed in the Battle of Hong Kong, December, 1941. May their lives and bravery be remembered always.

December 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm 6 comments

Tinsel – A Christmas Tail

This is the story of my BJ (1991 – 2006), written by her rescuer and my dear friend, Ursula Hart.

If dogs had nine lives, then Tinsel has only eight to her credit.  Tinsel was one of five tiny four-week old pitbull terrier pups found in a farmer’s field.  The pups were clinging to the frozen body of their mother, who had been shot.  A caring neighbour brought us the pups in early December 1991.  

Having been deprived of proper care, these little pups were severely emaciated and full of parasites.  With treatment this can easily be rectified.  After several dewormings and plenty of good food, all the pups grew rapidly and became the picture of health – all except Tinsel. Her body remained gaunt but her potbelly grew and grew. I knew that something was terribly wrong, so off to the vet she went.  

Numerous blood tests, X-rays and ultrasound revealed nothing conclusive except an extraordinary high white blood cell count.  The only solution would be expensive exploratory surgery. Although the tiniest of the lot, Tinsel was so full of energy and love that I could not deny her a chance to live.  I knew she wanted to live!  

The surgery revealed an abscess the size of a grapefruit behind the umbilical cord. An infection must have set in when she was born and left untreated, it continued to spread. To make things worse, the abscess ruptured during surgery, filling the entire abdominal cavity with the most putrid, fowl smelling pus.  Both vets who were performing the surgery, turned to me and pleaded with me to allow them to let her go. “There is no hope! It will take well over an hour to clean her up.  She’ll never make it!  Even if she were to pull through the surgery, she’ll be dead in the morning.”  

But their pleadings and rationalization met a deaf ear.  I saw Tinsel breathing steadily and I remembered the  twinkle in her eye.  I could not allow anyone playing God with the life of this little puppy.  Had God wanted her to die, it would have happened before she came to the Haven. Over and over I heard them say to me: “Do you realize how much this is going to cost? And she’ll never pull through! Just think of what you could do with all that money!” I did think.  I thought of Tinsel. I did not see this as failure, but as a victory half won.  “She’ll make it” was my reply.  

And make it, she did, with flying colors.  To this day the two vets at the nearby clinic still call it the Christmas Miracle.  Tinsel has since been adopted out to a wonderful home along with her littermate, Tweedy.  The last time that I saw her, she was a compact, turbo-charged puppy, who had grown from a tiny handful to a whopping seventy pounds.  

My little Tinsel was undoubtely my most expensive but also my most treasured Christmas present ever.  Merry Christmas, Tinsel!  

Written by Ursula Hart (1991) – Haven of the Heart Animal Sanctuary

  Snow Angel

December 24, 2007 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day, we honor those who served, and remember those who sacrificed.

Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

John McCrae

November 11, 2007 at 1:16 am Leave a comment

Mr. Darcy’ s Dog

I just finished reading the trilogy “Fitzwilliam Darcy, a gentleman” by Pamela Aidan.  The three novels state the events of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view.  As a fan of P&P, Jane and the hearthrob Colin Firth, I wouldn’t mind a look into Mr.  Darcy’s inner life and the social forces that shaped him.

And lo and behold, what did I find out?  Mr. Darcy was a mutt nutt!  Indeed?  Well, I choose to believe so.  I believe that Mr. Darcy spent many lonely moments longing for Elizabeth Bennett, and dreamed about her expressive fine eyes.  And the only creature he confided in was his dog Trafalgar.  Read an excerpt from the book.

Darcy collapsed on the sofa, and after only a moment’s hesitation, Trafalgar scrambled up beside him and laid his great head on his lap.  Darcy stared across the room, feeling everything but seeing nothing. What should he do? his inner voice asked sarcastically.

“Oh Lord, what a muddle!” He sighed deeply.  Trafalgar wormed his muzzle under his hand again, this time giving it a lick as he did so.  “No, I have not forgotten you, you great ox!”  Darcy began to stroke the hound’s soft head and shoulders.  Trafalgar sighed in deep contentment and pushed himself even closer against his master.  “Would that all my troubles could be so easily solved.”  He looked down into eyes glazed over in ecstasy.  “What would you say to a ride in the sleigh to pay calls on the local mongrels?”  The hound raised his head and gave Darcy a quizzical stare before yawning wide and dropping his head again.  “My thoughts exactly, but if I must go, so must you.” – from Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan

Handsome, wealthy and a dog lover…perfect, is he not?

An assembly such as this Duty and Desire These three remains

October 13, 2007 at 8:30 pm Leave a comment

Is Your Dog Urinal-Trained?

Tiny urinals were spotted around Soho in London earlier this year, a closer look revealed a stunt pulled by iTV promoting its “reality” television series, WAGS Boutique.  It’s a battle of WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends of footballers), turning their passion for fashion into profit as they set up two rival fashion boutiques in Central London.  What has that got to do with doggy-urinals, you ask?  Well, that’s just a publicity exploit to provide first-class amenity for their purse-size canines while the WAGS are busy shopping.

Image the catastrophy if a Great Dane decided to give the facility a test pee?  Call Plumber 911!

Chihuahua urinal       Close up

June 27, 2007 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

We Are So Cooooooooool!

Our Mutt Nutt website is Cool Dog Site of the Day today, yeh!

Dogmark logo

June 15, 2007 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment


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