Thursday, 5 January 2017

In memory of Ranger

A Memorial to a dog named Ranger
by Lynne Hooper, president, Bribie Island Historical Society

Bribie Island in 1936 had its own “Red Dog” story and with the prequel movie “Red Dog – True Blue” released in 2016 it's fitting that “Ranger’s” story is told.

A little wooden cross used to stand on the sand dunes at Main Beach (Woorim), Bribie Island, just in front of the lifesavers’ club house and fixed to it was a glass-covered frame, behind which were framed these words:

Source: The Telegraph, Thu 18 Nov 1937, p. 15

“In memory of Ranger,
Died May 8th, 1936.
If there be an after world for such as thou –
May the juiciest of bones be thy reward”

The little cross was erected, as the wording implies, to the memory of a dog, just one of the many friends and allies of man.

Ranger was a dog with no especial owner. A black, retriever type, dog he was the special pet of the Bribie Lifesavers’ team, and a general favourite with residents and visitors of the Island, going from one to the other for an occasional meal and a little affection. His particular pals, the lifesavers, were only there during the week-ends and holidays.

When the steamships Koopa or Doomba arrived each Saturday Ranger would be there to meet the team and after greeting them all joyfully would race away through the scrub, covering the three miles from the boat berth to the main beach ahead of the bus and be waiting for the boys to arrive at the clubhouse.

He would not ride in the bus, apparently, he thought that he should be the perfect host and receive his guests at the door.
Ranger's memorial cross, 1950.
Photo: G. Dudley via BIHS.

When the team were on beach patrol, so was Ranger, and he would accompany them into the sea, always swimming out beyond the furthest swimmer.  As long as the men were in the water he would continue to swim around beyond them. He remained at his self-appointed task until the patrol withdrew, sometimes being in the sea for hours on end.

Whenever beach sports or team competitions were held Ranger took his place at the front of the team, trotting along, tail erect, as the men marched.

So popular was Ranger with everyone on the island that one could hardly imagine anybody wishing him harm.  The lifesavers were heart-broken when they found him dead.  They buried him in the sand in front of the club-house and the flag was flown at half-mast. They placed the cross on top of his grave, overlooking the sea, in memory of a faithful friend.
Sydney cartoonist Harmuth Lahm
visited Bribie Island in 1950.
Photo: G. Dudley via BIHS.
Ranger's memorial cross, 1950.
Photo: G. Dudley via BIHS.

In 1950 the Sydney cartoonist Harmuth Lahm visited Bribie Island and was photographed at Ranger's memorial cross.

The cross remained in position into the late 1960s.

References Used for above text:  
World News, Sydney, 27 July 1940, p. 12
Sydney Morning Herald, 14 August 1946, p. 4

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