Saturday, August 02, 2014

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

The BBC reports
on an odd race:
Mr Smith was quietly confident. Time and time again the champion swimmer had proved his prowess in the water. There was no reason to think his latest contest would be anything other than a cakewalk, especially when he heard his rival's chosen stroke was the doggy paddle.

On a June day in 1880, Mr Smith plunged into the Thames at London Bridge for the start of the race. And so did his opponent, a six-year-old dog called Now Then.

Roared on by spectators who'd crammed on the steamer the Prince of Wales to follow the action, the pair set off towards North Woolwich Gardens, with a flotilla of small boats in their wake.

Initially, Mr Smith had the whip hand, but his lead lasted a matter of seconds. "Under the bridge, the bitch paddled to the front and quickly drew away from her human opponent," reported the Tamworth Herald.

At the Custom House, the retriever led by 40 yards. By the Tower, she'd extended that to 50 yards. At the Thames Tunnel she was fully four minutes and 24 seconds ahead of her challenger.

That's when she really started to draw away. A dispirited Mr Smith, more than half a mile behind, gave up by Limehouse, after 47-and-a-half minutes in the river. But Now Then powered on to Deptford Creek, when the disgruntled backers of the loser finally accepted defeat. "She was dragged into the boat occupied by her owner, looking none the worse for her exertions," said the Herald.

1 comment:

Peter Apps said...

Two things strike me: these days someone would have been in court charged with cruelty to animals, and there is no mention at all of what "breed" the dog was. How times have changed.