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A HEROINE OF GREAT PROPORTION

Story ID:807
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Syracuse New York USA
Year:1931
Person:Gilda
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A HEROINE OF GREAT PROPORTION

A HEROINE OF GREAT PROPORTION

A HEROINE OF GREAT PROPORTION

“Dave! Dave, wake up. You have to get out. The house is burning,” shouted Nettie Gould as she shook her husband’s shoulder. Gilda, the Gould family dog, a Great Dane of 11 years, had barked loud and excitedly. The barking awoke Nettie, who got up from bed to investigate. She knew that Gilda had to sense something wrong for her to bark like that.

Nettie found the entire rear half of the house in flames. She rushed back to the bedroom to awaken her husband, a diabetic amputee. Dave hurriedly attached his artificial leg and rose to get out of the burning building.

Nettie entered several times, carrying out pieces of furniture and other items of value. On the last trip, she tripped over a chair and fell, and David went into the building to rescue her and get her out. As soon as they got out, the roof collapsed.

Syracuse firemen under the command of Lt. Gilmour sped to the home, but were helpless to do anything. The water cistern was in the basement where it could not be accessed, and the well was dry. The nearest water was at Drumlins, a quarter mile away. The home was a total loss.

In the morning, Tuesday, November 3, 1931 the Syracuse Journal carried a photo on the front page showing a seated David Gould with Gilda, front legs laying across his lap, captioned “Glory Gilds Gilda”. The accompanying article described Gilda’s heroism in saving the Gould’s lives.

What was never mentioned, and what was forgotten about during all of the excitement of the fire, was that Gilda had a litter of puppies in that house. Everyone who was aware of it assumed the puppies had died in the fire.

Mrs. Fred Wickert, daughter of the Gould’s, came to help her parents. After they were settled with temporary living quarters in the basement of the Erwin Methodist Church on Cumberland Ave. in Syracuse, their daughter took Gilda home with her in Hamilton, NY, a distance of 51 miles.

After a week and a half, Helen Wickert, daughter of David and Nettie, decided that Gilda had been with them long enough to be safe, and let her loose. Gilda took off and did not come back. Many posters and advertisements were placed and announcements made on the radio. Occasional phone calls were received, saying Gilda had been seen. From the pattern on sighting locations, it became clear she was heading for her old home. The Gould’s were informed. There were no more sightings.

In the following spring, Fred Wickert came from Hamilton on a weekend to begin clean-up on the site where the house had burned, in preparation for building another house on the same site. He intended to store tools and materials in the barn. Entering the barn he found another tragedy of the fire.

The body of Gilda lay there in the barn, together with the bodies of her puppies. Unseen by anyone, Gilda had removed her puppies from the burning house, one by one, and put them downstairs in the barn in a nest of hay.

Gilda knew she had placed her puppies in the barn after rescuing them, and as soon as she could get loose, was determined to return to her puppies. Not knowing the way, she traveled in ever- widening circles until she came to familiar places and then unerringly to her puppies. She had probably not eaten much, if any, on her journey, arriving to find her puppies dead of either starvation or frozen to death. She herself, weak and hungry, determined to remain loyal to the end, and gave up her life to be with her puppies.

Gilda, truly a heroine of great proportion, had given her all.

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