30 January 2008

Baby's Best Friend

I have to admit I'm not much of an animal lover. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the beauty of the wild and natural world, I enjoy seeing birds at the backyard feeder, and I always have a good time at the zoo.

What I have never been able to do is elevate pets to the status of people. I had a dog when I was a kid, and although I cared for him and enjoyed having a pet, he wasn't "like a brother". He was just a dog. I always feel uneasy when I see people who treat their pets like they were their children. I just don't get it.

Then I came across this story about a family in Neshanic reported in The New York Times on October 22, 1927.

In August that year, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Snook and their two young children on Amwell Road was burned to the ground in a terrible fire. Mr. and Mrs. Snook, infant son David, and their faithful Airedale, Betty, were able to get out of the house unharmed. Little daughter Ruth was rescued from the home by neighbors who formed a bucket brigade.

After the fire, the family set up residence in their garage as they set about rebuilding their home. On the afternoon of October 21, Mrs. Snook was washing the windows of her nearly completed home when she saw flames coming from the garage. She tried desperately to enter the building to save her 12 month old David who was asleep in his crib. She was unable to reach her son, collapsing outside the garage - severely burned about the face, arms, and hands.

Almost forgotten in the emergency was Betty, who had been left in the garage guarding the baby. After climbing into the crib and finding herself unable to pull little David to safety, she did the only thing she could. She remained in the crib attempting to shield the baby from the flames which consumed them both. Their remains were found together by firemen - cradled, as The Times put it, "in the charred skeleton of David's iron crib".


  1. You might not have considered your childhood dog "like a brother" but I bet your dog considered you family!

    Growing up we had a few different dogs over the years. My sister starting having seizures in her early teens and our dog Smooch would never leave her side. She really didn’t even like that dog much (at that time). Smooch slept in her room every night until my sister moved out! It was really quite astonishing.

  2. Mike - I am sure you are right. I guess what I am referring to is the people that spend thousands on surgeries and treatments for 14 year old dogs - but send their own kids to school when they are sick because they can't be bothered!