The Brave Heart: The Inspiring Story of Swansea Jack, the Hero Dog Who Saved 27 Lives

Swansea Jack was an exceptional black retriever who lived a short, but remarkable life in the early 20th century. He was known for his bravery and selflessness, as he saved dozens of lives from the sea including that of a 12-year-old boy. The community was so grateful for his actions that they showered him with numerous awards and even built a memorial in his honor. To this day, Swansea people are referred to as “Jacks” and fans of Swansea City are known as the “Jack Army,” both thought to be in tribute to the famous dog.

Carl Gough, a storyteller, is preparing to share Swansea Jack’s tale at an event in Briton Ferry. Jack was born in 1930 and initially belonged to Taulford Davies. However, Jack was more of a troublemaker during his time with Mr. Davies, as he decimated the local park’s duck population. He was then rehomed with William Thomas, who taught Jack how to swim and encouraged him to venture into the water. Jack’s life-saving career began when he saved a young boy from the North Dock, and from there he continued to make a name for himself as a hero dog.

Despite Jack’s incredible feats, he was originally afraid of water. It’s believed that something made Jack scared of swimming, but with encouragement from William Thomas and some of the local boys, Jack overcame his fear. Jack would grab onto the boys’ collars and drag them to shore. By June, 1931, Jack had made his first rescue and quickly gained recognition for his achievements. By August, 1934, Jack had saved 14 lives, and it’s possible that the number may have been higher. Jack’s bravery eventually gained national and international attention, and he became the recipient of several awards for his heroism.

“Swansea was in decline, but the docks was a busy place,” says Carl Gough. “The majority of people couldn’t swim. There’s a possibility that there were a number of people in need of saving.” With Jack around, the community had a protector who was always in the right place at the right time, saving those in need. “It’s known there were bodies that used to be pulled from the river and docks of people that were drowned,” Gough adds. Jack’s story is a testament to the power of determination and the bond between humans and their furry friends.

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