Topher 'off the hook' thanks to kind-hearted anglers

A GROUP of kind hearted anglers from the UK came to the aid of a local Labrador who was seriously injured after accidentally swallowing fishing bait on Ventry Beach, leaving his owner almost €600 out of pocket.

For the past 30 years or so, up to 180 anglers have congregated on the beaches of West Kerry to fish in the SAMF Daiwa Irish Pairs, which is considered one of the most prestigious competitions in Ireland and the UK.

The most recent competition last October brought the anglers to Ventry Beach to fish for ray, flounder and dog fish. However, the wrong sort of dog became accidently involved in the competition when the elaborately named Labrador, Topher Cantwell Keogh, managed to grab an angler's spare hook and trace – which was baited with sand eel - and before they knew it, consumed the lot in one go.

Despite the potentially life threatening injury he sustained Topher survived but his owner, artist Geraldine Keogh, was left with some steep vet's bills for the intensive care that was required.

"Thanks to the skill of and care of local vets Paddy O'Connor and Anita Connelly, Topher's life was saved, but at a cost of €544," esplained local man John Slye, who has liaised with the anglers during their trips to West Kerry for many years.

"The organiser of the competition Nick Haward - like so many of the anglers - has a great love of the Dingle area and has made many friends here over the past 30 years. He knew something must be done."

According to John, Nick rallied the troops, calling some on some of the competition's "old hands" to to help raise the money to meet the cost of saving Topher's life.

"Within a week a whip round raised the money and one of the anglers, David Himsworth from Yorkshire, visited Geraldine and Topher in Ventry on March 13, bringing with him a cheque for the full amount," said John. "She was most grateful."

Topher has since recovered and while this story has a happy ending John is keen to remind dog owners to take extra care if they are visiting any of the local beaches during this year's competition, which is due to take place on September 21.


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