Scottish Dog Ghillie Receives Canine Version of George Cross for Saving Epileptic Woman

What a marvelous dog! Big barks for Ghillie! Thanks to the Scotsman for this article. Gold award for dog who acted like Lassie to save...

Joy  |  Dec 3rd 2007


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What a marvelous dog! Big barks for Ghillie!

Thanks to the Scotsman for this article.

Gold award for dog who acted like Lassie to save the life of owner’s mum
CLAIRE GARDNER

WHEN an angry dog came racing up to a group of workmen on Orkney, their first instinct was to run.

But when the animal started to bark and run frantically backwards and forwards along a path, they realised he was trying to get them to follow him.

In a scene straight out of the television series Lassie, the Orkney dog led the workmen to a woman who had collapsed unconscious in the undergrowth on a harsh December morning.

The men then called an ambulance and Mary Wilson, who had collapsed after suffering an epileptic fit, was taken to hospital.

Now, two years later, the dog, an English springer spaniel called Ghillie, is being awarded the animal equivalent of the George Cross by the charity the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ (PDSA) for his life- saving actions.

Ghillie’s owner, Alan Wilson, 30, Mrs Wilson’s son, said he was delighted his dog had behaved in such a remarkable manner.

“He’s a fantastic dog,” he said. “That it was my mother who he saved through his actions has made him a very special dog for all the family.”

Mr Wilson added: “Since his heroic behaviour he’s not done anything particularly amazing. He’s just grown up to become a normal, occasionally rather badly behaved dog.”

The dramatic rescue unfolded when Mrs Wilson, from the remote island of Fair Isle, lying around halfway between Shetland and the Orkney Islands, decided to take Ghillie for a walk.

She was staying with her son just outside Kirkwall, while her husband, Brian, fitted a kitchen.

“It was a lovely sunny morning and I told her to have a lovely walk, and after that I didn’t give it a minute’s thought,” her husband said.

His wife walked nearly half a mile along a bridle path before collapsing by the side of a ditch after having an epileptic fit.

Ghillie, who was then nine months old, leaped into action.

Engineer Brian Moodie, from Kirkwall, who was fixing a telegraph pole nearby with two other workmen, was the first to see the dog.

“He was running around, then came up to us and was quite aggressive, so our first instinct was to move away from it,” Mr Moodie said.

“But after a few minutes he was still racing around barking, so we eventually thought we would follow him.”

Just a few hundred yards off the track they discovered Mrs Wilson and rang for help.

Mrs Wilson, 62, a nursery school teacher, was carried by tractor to an ambulance and then taken to Balfour Hospital in Kirkwall.

Her husband, a joiner, added: “To us he is a very intelligent dog. What he did was fantastic, and Mary and I will forever be grateful for what he did.”

Ghillie, now nearly three, will be presented with the PDSA’s Gold Medal, known as the animals’ George Cross, at the Orkney Hotel on 20 December.

Marilyn Rydstrm, director- general of the animal charity, said of the dog: “His devotion and persistence that fateful December day undoubtedly saved Mary’s life.”

She added: “This is an extraordinary story of that unique and inexplicable bond between people and their pets.”

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