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They were truly the dog days of summer

Published July 24. 2010 09:00AM

Ann Elliott of Canterbury reportedly found the collie pup on a rubbish dump. The dog worked among sheep and cattle for the next 20 years and survived until November 14, 1939, when he was put down. Bluey had lived for 29 years, five months and seven days, on a diet of kangaroos and emus.

One source names William Hall of Rochester as Bluey's first owner while another says Bluey's owner was named Esma Hall, who lived to be 103.

Two years ago, The London Daily Telegraph reported that a dog named Bella, believed to be the oldest in the world, had also died at age 29. A Labrador cross, Bella was bought by David Richardson when she was 3 years old.

She had lived with Mr. Richardson, 76, and his partner Daisy, 81, since 1982 in Derbyshire, England. She was put down following a heart attack while on holiday with the couple on Sept. 8, 2008.

Dog stories have always been popular news subjects. The Tamaqua Courier reprinted an article from the Philadelphia Press in February 1905 stating how some of the more affluent dog owners in larger cities were pampering their pets. Canine clothes - especially dog sweaters - were the latest fad.

"They (pet sweaters) are not the old fashioned blankets made in the many different styles of the past dozen years, but knit sweaters made with as much care, apparently, as those the athletic girl wears while skating on the park lakes," it said.

The writer then matched pet fashion with another national craze - the automobile.

"But these sweaters are just now intended for the dog that goes riding with his mistress in the automobile," he stated. "For this purpose the aforesaid mistress discovered that the blanket, no matter how tightly it fitted 'dear Fido.' was not sufficient to keep him warm in the cold air that whizzes past the occupants of an automobile as they dash along the Lancaster Pike. So she had the sweater knit for him, and the question of how the dog was to be kept warm was solved."

One automobile owner interviewed reported that the market for "dog clothes was still small, but growing."

The summer of 1910 was a good one for dog stories. In June, one Courier reporter felt that a borough audit had undercounted the number of dogs in Tamaqua. Each ward assessor was responsible for counting the dogs in his territory.

"They must have overlooked the fact that there are more dogs running loose in Tamaqua than any town in the state," the writer said. "We are confident that instead of 110 dogs in the whole town there are at least 500, and town council should take this matter up at its next meeting."

He complained that a borough ordinance allowing for the appointment of a dog catcher in order to round up all stray dogs was not being enforced.

"Other towns are enforcing the law and there is not a town of Tamaqua's size in the state that has as many stray dogs running around as there are in this town," he charged.

Other local stories were more positive for the dogs and their owners. John Kleppinger of Coaldale, owner of a bull dog, was the defendant in a case in Schuylkill County court in mid-June. The dog allegedly "got its fangs fastened" in the arm of Evan Evans as he was returning home from work at the No. 8 colliery.

After the alleged attack, the Courier said that "Evans insisted that the dog was vicious and unsafe, demanding that Kleppinger send it to the happy hunting ground."

When he refused, Evans had Kleppinger arrested for "maintaining a nuisance."

A decisive moment in the trial came when Kleppinger brought his bull dog with him on the witness stand. To show that he was not vicious, the reporter said Kleppinger "fondled the dog as he would a kitten."

Ten "reputable citizens of Coaldale" took the stand, swearing that the dog had a good reputation.

"The sympathy of the jury was with the dog and it returned a verdict in favor of Kleppinger which means the dog can live," the writer said.

The one downside for Kleppinger was that the court costs left him $52 lighter.

An incident in New Ringgold provided one of the best feel-good stories of the summer. Thanks to his faithful setter, E. R. Rarick, a telegraph operator for the Pennsylvania & Reading Company in New Ringgold, lived to tell about a harrowing experience.

Rarick, a non-swimmer, was boating in a dam near Drehersville when it capsized and he was thrown into the water. After thrashing about, he had the presence to call to his faithful dog, which was wagging its tail on the bank not far away.

"As soon as the call for help was heard by the dog, it made a dash for the water and as Rarick was going down for the second time, grabbed him by the coat and dragged him safely to the shore," the Courier reported. "That dog deserves a Carnegie medal and will have it if operator Rarick can get one for him."

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