Oklahoma Corgi Margaret May Receives Award for Saving Two From Drowning

 |  Aug 31st 2007  |   8 Contributions


What a girl!!! Big barks for Margaret May!!!!

Thanks to Treena for barking in this article from NewsOk.

Canine rescuer wins award
Dog's efforts avert drownings

By Robert Medley
Staff Writer

With a toddler clinging to her neck, her knees and feet slipping on moss, Julie Whittaker fought to keep the girl's head above water.

Yet the more Whittaker struggled to get out of Lake Overholser, the farther down the ramp she slid into the murky water.

It took a 28-pound Pembroke Welsh corgi, short on legs but long in heart, to save Whittaker and her 2-year-old great-niece, Kyleigh Grace Todd, from drowning that afternoon.


The rescue earned the dog, Margaret May, the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association's 2007 hero pet award, said veterinarian Ron Mollet, the association's president-elect.

Margaret wears a hero dog medal around her neck. She's a member of the Oklahoma Pet Hall of Fame. Her picture and story are found in the September issue of Dog Fancy magazine. And she's taken a ride in a limousine and appeared on national television since being honored with the award.

"I never imagined Margaret would do something like this," Whittaker, of Yukon, said. "But she is so highly intelligent."

Whittaker and Margaret return sometimes to the rock near the spot where the dog made the rescue just off E Overholser Drive and NW 30. The water is much higher and swifter this year. Whittaker still has a hard time telling the story without breaking into tears.

"I come out here to reflect, but I don't bring Kyleigh," she said.

Sept. 11, 2006

Feeding the ducks on Lake Overholser's east side was a common way for Whittaker to spend time with Kyleigh and Margaret.

About 4:30 p.m. on a hot afternoon, Whittaker saw a woman and child leave the lake and noticed no one else was in sight. Feeling uncomfortable that no one was around, Whittaker asked Kyleigh and Margaret to head back to the car.

When Whittaker reached down to help Margaret who suffers from a bad hip over a concrete barrier, Kyleigh took the chance to bolt straight into the water. The lake level was low then due to the drought and the water was calm, but the toddler lost her footing and slid down the ramp into the lake. Neither Kyleigh nor Whittaker knew how to swim.

Whittaker saw the girl go under.

"She was on her hands and knees facing me but by the time I ran in after her she was totally submerged," Whittaker said.

Whittaker, then 48, soon found out why Kyleigh had no footing on the mossy concrete.

"It was like I was on a surfboard," she said. "I had tennis shoes on but I was sliding down further."

In about three to four feet of water, Whittaker held on to Kyleigh's shirt. The girl instinctively wrapped her legs around Whittaker's waist and her arms around Whittaker's neck.

"She was so brave," Whittaker said. "She never cried and she never screamed."

But the two were stuck there. Whittaker, who suffers from arthritis, tried to use her knees to crawl up the ramp, but the moss was too slippery and her knees were cut by jagged parts of the concrete ramp's grooves. She tried to dig her fingernails into the ramp to pull them out, but it didn't help.

"Every time I tried to move we slid backward further into the water," she said. "That's when I started to panic."

All the time, Margaret had been frantically pacing the shoreline and barking. Whittaker screamed, "Margaret please help us!"

Margaret dove right in when she heard her owner call for her, Whittaker said.

"She came rushing into the water, she barreled in and swam around to grab a hold of the left side of my T-shirt," Whittaker said.

Margaret's teeth tightened on the wet cotton shirt. The dog jerked her owner in a thrashing, tugging motion until they moved. Margaret growled as she tugged harder and Whittaker was able to push enough with her knees on the concrete to bring them to the shore about 10 minutes later, Whittaker said.

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