By Sylvia Williams – Summerland, B.C.
It all began when I was in high school when I was about 16. We lived in an isolated area northeast of Edmonton, so I had to go to school in the city, but I was always at home for the holidays.
One day, as I came back to our house after collecting eggs at the henhouse, I saw this poor, sad looking dog lying near our back door. Its paws were raw, its fur was straggly, and it struggled to even stand up.
I told mother about my find and she, being a nurse, immediately began to look after him. First, she gave it a drink of cool water, then some soft food. She put bandages and salve on his feet, and gave him lots of petting.
Mother named him Jack, and in a few weeks of gentle care, he was a fine looking dog. We guessed he was a cross between a Collie and a St. Bernard.
He stayed all that summer and winter. Eventually a young man we didn’t know came to the door. He looked at the dog sitting nearby and said: “Missus, that is my dog and I want him back!”
Well! Mother, not easily fooled and fairly spunky, replied: “I’ll give you 50¢ if I can keep him.”
Thankfully, the stranger agreed, so Jack was legally ours! Jack was a very contented dog and a good pal for mother. She often felt lonely with the young folk all away for work or education.
Jack arrived by steamship
She was so patient with Jack, who ended up being quite large – possibly weighing around 80 pounds. Jack’s usual spot to lie was in the middle of the kitchen floor and mom would just walk around him.
My parents moved a few years later and mother taught school at their new home. The classrooms were in a large building with several entrances and exits, so if mother went in one door and exited another way, Jack would sit at the door she entered and wait until maybe sundown for her. He was so loyal.
Eventually, my parents moved to British Columbia and lived in a coastal town just south of Prince Rupert. Of course, Jack couldn’t be left behind and the only way to take him was by steamship.
The ships came into that harbour only once a month and we were thrilled when one evening – it was almost dark – we heard a ship’s loud whistle and learned Jack was aboard. The crew put him in a big net and lowered him to a smaller boat, then removed the net.
Jack and the boat were quite a distance from shore, but he was frightened and jumped into the water and swam to us. Of course, with all his fur, he was soaking wet, but we didn’t care that he shook himself and subsequently got us wet as well!
We were all happy to be together and Jack was with my parents for another few moves into their retirement years. Mother was heartbroken when he died, but we have cherished memories of that dear dog and his devotion to our family, and especially to mother who saved his life.