Family Dog Rescues 6-Year-Old Girl from River Drowning

Maggie the dog nominated for Commendation of Bravery.

By , Columnist

R.B. Stewart


On August 17, Tom and Marie Morgan of Ridgefield, Washington were walking along the edge of a tributary of the Lewis River with their six year-old daughter Taylor and family dog Maggie. The river was in full flow due to recent heavy rains. As Taylor ran forward to throw a rock into the river, the bank collapsed and, falling into the rushing torrent, Taylor was quickly swept away. 

"I couldn't keep up with her," said her father, "the water was too quick." I was running as fast as I could along the edge when Maggie bolted past me for about 30 yards and then leaped into the river. I lost sight of both of them for a second and then I saw Maggie with Taylor's jacket collar in her mouth trying to swim towards the bank. The river took them down about another hundred yards before Maggie was able to reach the bank. Even though they went under a few times she didn't let go once. If it hadn't been for Maggie, we would have lost our daughter."

An eyewitness who was jogging nearby when the incident happened said, "The dog sprinted and jumped about 12 feet out into the river just in front of the child. They both went under and when they came up the dog had her jacket in its mouth and was dragging her to the bank. The dad ran into the water's edge and grabbed the other side of the child's jacket and they both dragged her up onto the grass. I have never seen anything like it."

Sergeant Michael Brodie of the local police department said that in twenty years on the force he had not seen anything like it either.

 "I have never heard of a dog jumping into a river to save a child before. The family is very lucky to own a dog with this degree of devotion.  When I took the report at the family's home, the dog sat there looking back and forth between me and Taylor and I could sense something extremely unusual between them." 

Taylor's father Tom says that it is not the first time Maggie has displayed an unusual degree of devotion towards Taylor.

"Maggie never lets her out of her sight. About two years ago she rushed into the house, breaking the screen, barking as if she had gone crazy. She is usually very gentle and quiet. When my wife and I rushed to see what was happening she ran out into the yard where we found Taylor lying on the grass having trouble breathing. She had been stung on the neck and is highly allergic to bees." 

Maggie has been a member of the family since Taylor was just two years old.  "We visited an animal shelter and were walking down a row of cages and all the other dogs were either barking or running around but one was just sitting quietly in the middle of its cage as if waiting and Taylor stopped and said, "Hello Maggie, we're taking you home." 

The parents don't know where Taylor got the name from but said it just stuck. "We have always known there was an unusual bond between them. When Taylor was younger and first walking, Maggie would move toys out of her path and always sleeps just outside her bedroom door as if on guard."

When asked about her river rescue, Taylor responded "Maggie loves me."

Today, the Morgan family received notice that Maggie has been nominated for a Commendation of Bravery by the police department. Unfortunately, the medal may be given posthumously.

"We found out last month that Maggie has been diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma cancer and will not be with us in a few months; we haven't told Taylor yet as she will be devastated. It will be the hardest thing we have ever had to do. The two have an inseparable bond that is based on real love. We owe our daughter's life to her." 

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Holly is a freelance writer and copy editor with a background in journalism and publishing. Like a grandmother's purse, she is about three decades old, worn around the edges and mostly full of crap.

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