Strathard Heritage Digital Archive

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IN A FOX’S DEN—the story of the rescue of much-loved dogs.

    Dan McCann and the terriers.

    Some stories from Strathard remain very local and get conveyed by word of mouth. However, the rescue of four terriers in June 1929 was to reach the readership of The Scotsman. It seems that a journalist was at the Altskeith for a day’s fishing when he heard of this story of adventure and rescue. It culminated in a  Quarryman, Dan McCann receiving an award from the National Canine Defence League.

    So, the story goes as follows. Quarryman McCann was called in by gamekeeper George McAlpine who had become alarmed at the number of foxes attacking lambs in Menteith district.

    Four terriers (Winnie, Prince, Vixie and Juttie), belonging to Capt. Ralph Joynson were called in to deal with the foxes in a cairn at Ballington, near Callander. However, after several hours none of the dogs came out and were trapped some distance underground. That was when Dan McCann was called upon as he had great experience of rescuing dogs in that predicament. One of the dogs was located in a crevice about 40 feet down and helped to the surface but it was difficult to find an easy way of gaining access to the other 3 dogs.

    McCann had previously worked as a miner and these skills were necessary as in order to get to the dogs some blasting of rock in small amounts had to be undertaken. To complete the onerous task 2 shepherd’s crooks were tied together, and a snare having been tied to the end, the dogs were soon caught. One was grabbed by the hind leg and the other two by the neck. Throughout the rescue McCann had been suspended by a rope and his only light during the rescue operation was a bicycle lamp. The dogs had been trapped for 36 hours some 50 feet below ground level.

    Mrs. McQueen Ferguson, secretary of the Edinburgh branch of the National Canine League, later presented Mr. McCann with its silver medal in a ceremony in the grounds of Aberfoyle School.

    George McAlpine and Capt. Joynson with schoolchildren in Aberfoyle.

    Mrs. McQueen Ferguson presenting the medal.