Gee Whizz! Rescue dog awarded posthumous medal
Published 22/03/2016 | 19:16
A Newfoundland dog who saved nine people and a dog from drowning during a decade of lifesaving has been awarded a posthumous medal.
Whizz, who died earlier this month aged 12, spent most of his life dedicated to patrolling the Bristol Channel and the River Severn with the Royal Navy Rescue, the Severn Area Rescue Association and Marine Volunteer Service.
As well as being a water rescuer, working alongside his owner David Pugh, Whizz also enriched the lives of hundreds of people as a fundraiser and therapy dog.
The PDSA Order of Merit - known as the animals' OBE - was presented to Whizz's cousin, Tizz, and Mr Pugh at a ceremony in London.
Whizz is the third dog to receive the award, which recognises animals that display outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society, above and beyond normal companionship.
The gentle giant who stood at over six feet tall on his hind legs and weighed 12 stone, was trained to rescue people in peril from the water by Mr Pugh when he was just a year old.
His esteemed career saw him carry out some amazing rescues.
In August 2008, he pulled two girls to safety after they drifted out to sea in an inflatable dinghy at Oxwich beach in Wales and capsized.
The previous year he rescued Topper, a red setter, which had got into difficulty in a disused water treatment pool.
In 2011 Whizz rescued Toni Curtis who suffered an asthma attack while swimming in the sea during a family holiday.
Mr Pugh, who lives near Bristol, spoke of his delight at receiving the award.
"I am bursting with pride for Whizz. He was a dog in a million and I am truly heartbroken that he isn't here to receive his medal," he said.
"Whizz loved working and had an extraordinary talent. Not only was he strong and gentle - he was also so emotionally intuitive.
"This made him the perfect rescue and therapy dog and a beloved companion to the hundreds of sick children and adults he met along the way.
"I am thrilled that Whizz has been recognised with the PDSA Order of Merit - Tizz has some big shoes to fill."
PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin, who presented the medal, said: "Whizz's life was utterly devoted to saving and enriching the lives of the humans he met.
"His story embodies the enormous contribution that animals make to our lives. He is a thoroughly deserving recipient of the PDSA Order of Merit, which celebrates the outstanding devotion that Whizz displayed."