Husband and wife Michelle and Gordon Dawson are always proud of their beloved dog, black Labrador Retriever, Mack. But when the Calgary, Alberta, couple’s plucky canine companion interfered in a very dire situation, saving the life of a suicidal woman, they realized that Mack is a hero in the truest sense of the word.
On a normal day in July, 2012, Michelle says Mack seemed to tell her more urgently than usual that he wanted to go outside.
“He was quite insistent,” Michelle Dawson tells the Calgary Sun. “He was whining at the door and when he got to the front porch he was barking and growling.”
Michelle didn’t know what was making Mack so worked up. But when the normally obedient Lab bolted across the street towards the banks of the Bow River, it wasn’t long before Michelle realized her dog had intervened in a very grave situation.
“I was kind of miffed at him,” Michelle remembers, “he ran across the road, across the grass and went straight to her.”
As Michelle ran toward Mack, she spotted a crying woman in a tree near the river, a rope often used by neighborhood children as a swing tied around her neck. It was clear the woman was ready to take her own life.
But Mack wasn’t about to let that happen. The determined dog desperately barked and ran circles around the base of the tree where the distraught woman stood while Michelle quickly called for help. Emergency personnel who arrived moments later credit Mack for finding the distressed woman just in time before tragedy could occur.
“He must have sensed something was terribly wrong,” Michelle says of Mack. “He wouldn’t leave her.”
In fact, Mack refused to leave the woman’s side until she was removed from the tree by police officers and paramedics who arrived on the scene.
Gordon Dawson says he will never forget that fateful day.
“She was just crying, it was terrible,” Gordon remembers of the troubled woman. “I have no doubt, a couple minutes longer and she would have hung herself.”
Without Mack’s keen senses and kind heart, Gordon knows that woman might not be here today.
“In my mind, the hero is really Mack — and the Calgary Police Service,” Gordon tells CBC News Calgary proudly.
And Mack’s efforts haven’t gone unrecognized by the Calgary community, either. On Friday, November 1, Mack became the first recipient of the Animal Hero Award of Exceptional Recognition, given to the loyal Lab by the Calgary Police, Animal and Bylaw Services, and the Calgary Humane Society. At the ceremony, Mack was fitted with an embossed blue collar with a gold medallion — a fitting adornment for a hero dog.