Terry Ford was murdered on Gowrie farm in Norton in Zimbabwe in March 2002. A photograph of his body, concealed beneath a blue bedspread and with a Jack Russell curled against its side, was picked up by news teams around the world.
The dog was called Squeak. His defiant vigil ensured that the world acknowledged his master’s brutal death.
Debbie du Toit (now Tingle), Terry Ford’s cousin, is quoted in Innocent Victims:
“It was very traumatic. Harry and I had to lift Squeak off Terry’s body – kicking and snarling and even trying to bite us, until we managed to get him into our car. There were three other dogs in the yard all were absolutely traumatised by the time we got there.”
Days later the ZNSPCA were called in by the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU) to try to rescue other animals left on the property. These included several dogs and Star, a pony who had belonged to Terry Ford’s son Mark since his time at junior school.
The rescues took many visits and careful negotiation but in the end Meryl and her team did succeed.
The extract that follows is copyrighted material.
“Meryl carefully recorded all the details of Squeak’s love and loyalty to his master and asked the Chairman of the ZNSPCA to submit them to the American North Shore Animal League. Squeak was then awarded the Lewyt Award for Heroic and Compassionate Pets in August 2012. The citation read:
‘The Lewyt Award has been presented to Squeak to honour the exceptional loyalty and compassion he showed to Terry Ford.’ Mark received US$500 from the North Shore Animal League as part of the award.
Meryl kept in touch with Mark Ford and with Debbie du Toit, as she did with hundreds of other farmers whose lives she had been involved in as she rescued their animals and pets. Just over four years after the murder of Terry Ford, Debbie told Meryl the final story concerning a man and his little dog:
‘Squeak passed away on Tuesday morning, 9 May 2006 at the grand old age of 15. The loyal little Jack Russell had been living with Dirk, Janet and Louise Benade (friends of Mark’s) in Chegutu since Terry’s murder on 18 March 2002.
Written permission had to be obtained from the Chegutu DA’s office for the burial party to visit our family gravesite where we decided to lay Squeak to rest, alongside his beloved master and friend. Getting this permission was a time-consuming affair, so Dirk had Squeak entombed in a small concrete coffin.
The gravesite is right at the top of a very large rocky kopje*, a good 15-minute steep, hard climb, but well worth the effort once on top; the magnificent view is breathtaking. There is a customary tale believed by the resident black people that a very large baboon living on the kopje holds the spirit of our grandfather, ‘Pop’ du Toit. They call the baboon ‘Patoit’. Whilst we were sitting on the top of the kopje by Squeak’s concrete tomb, a troop of inquisitive baboons came right up to see what was happening. The troop was led by a very large male?!
On Squeak’s plaque, Dirk had inscribed:
To a better place with your mate Terry.
Man amongst men. Dog amongst dogs. Till we meet again. Cheers.
With a prayer followed by cracking a bottle of champagne (in true Zimbabwean style!) we toasted to celebrate the joy and love that Squeak gave us all and bade him farewell as we laid him to rest by his beloved friend and master’s side on 16 May 2006 at 4pm.
As we sat by the graves reflecting on all the tragedies that have taken place in Zimbabwe over the last few years, Dirk told us that just before Squeaky died, his normally floppy little ears pricked right up, almost as if he were seeing his master again as he closed his eyes and took his last breath.’
*kopje – small hill (in Zimbabwe will often have rocks or large boulders)
Thanks to Merlin Unwin and Cathy Buckle for allowing me to post extracts from ‘Innocent Victims’.
Innocent Victims was published by Merlin Unwin books in 2009. I contacted them again in October 2018 to find out if hard copies of the book are still available, and have been told that it will be as ‘print on demand’.
Merlin Unwin Books
Palmers House, 7 Corve Street, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1DB, UK
The original ISBN: 978 1 906122 07 2
Currently advertised on the Merlin Unwin site as an Ebook for £6.75
Cathy Buckle’s website: http://www.cathybuckle.com
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2019