RESCUED DOG FROM DROWNING — Firemen and police united their efforts to rescue this dog from drowning in Dunn’s Pond on Sunday. Left to right, Fireman John Howard, “Pal” and Patrolman James Murphy. In background is Jean Sack, 3, who welcomed dog home after his rescue. (McLean Photo)
John Howard, Jean (Sack) Smith, and Lieutenant Brian Murphy (photo: PAUL MURPHY)

A Facebook posting by the Norwood Police Department earlier this month led to a reunion of those connected to the rescue of a dog that had fallen through ice on a local pond, 65 years after the incident. A photograph of the young firefighter and police officer with the dog and a young girl was posted as a “Way-Back Wednesday” feature photo on July 2.

Within moments, someone asked about the identity of the girl to whom the dog was returned. A Taunton woman looking online for information about the Norwood Fourth of July parade happened to see the photo and recognized the girl as her mother, Jean (Sack) Smith, who now lives in Arizona but is visiting for the summer and was hoping to attend her hometown parade. Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy, son of James Murphy, the police officer in the photo who later became the town’s police chief, decided to try to get the group together after generating the interest with his posting. He phoned the firefighter from the photo, retired deputy fire chief John Howard, now 99, made contact with Smith, and organized the reunion at the location of the rescue, the former Dunn’s Pond, now the site of the town’s public safety building. More than two dozen people attended the July 11 gathering, including family members of the people in the photo. James Murphy died in 1973, but he was represented by three of his children Brian, Paul, and Maureen all members of the Norwood Police Department. Also attending was Norwood police Officer Kevin Grasso, grandson of Eugene “Scoop” McLean, who took the original

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John Howard, Jean (Sack) Smith, and Brian Murphy at the July reunion, and the photo of the return of Smith’s dog. photo. “It was good; they had a nice crowd up there,” Howard said in a phone interview. Recalling the long-ago incident, Howard talked about how, since he was the youngest of the fire crew there, he was the one to crawl out about 25 feet over the ice on the ladder from the fire truck. He said they broke the ice and the dog was able to scramble out. But Howard ended up in 3 feet of water, soaked, he said. Brian Murphy said Howard has joked with him that his father was there, but did not get wet.

“I’m glad they preserved the photo. It was a memento of our fire station,” said Howard, who says he is in good health but is not as active as he was a few years ago, before he had a hip replaced.

Smith said she remembers Howard and James Murphy from seeing them around their station near her Lenox Street home, but she is not sure whether she remembers much about that day other than what she has been told. She said she liked to sneak out and follow her brother around, and that day he had gone ice skating. She said she was glad they saved her dog, Pal, a black-and-white collie, who used to sleep with her and on whom she would rest during naps. She said the dog even saved her life one day while she was popping tar bubbles in the road. She said a truck was headed toward her, but the driver was alerted to her presence by a barking Pal. “I was very attached to that dog,” Smith said. She said he was with her for at least four more years after the incident at Dunn’s Pond.

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An account in the Norwood Messenger at the time said dozens of churchgoers looked on as Pal was rescued from the pond that January day in 1949. “First news of the dog’s plight was relayed to the fire station by two boys who saw him struggling in the water and rushed to the fire station for assistance,” it read. It went on to say that Murphy was sent to the scene and radioed for assistance. “Taken home, the dog was greeted with delight by little Jean Sack, 3, he being her special pet. Given a hot drink and wrapped in blankets, Pal was placed behind a hot stove to thaw out. In a few hours he was reported to be none the worse for his experience.” 


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