Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday, 16 August 2013

Toast of the week - animal rescue edition

It's not just humans who get cut off by the tide, you know...
Two young ferrets who were at risk of drowning were rescued by lifeboat volunteers at Newbiggin RNLI lifeboat station.
What makes this story particularly appealing - apart from its furry protagonists - is the tone of the RNLI account of the incident, written by the local volunteer Press Officer, who has eschewed the usual utilitarian style of reporting in favour of a more literary approach:
The ferrets' anxious owners had made desperate attempts to save their animals by wading into the sea on the Cambois Bay rocks but their best endeavours looked likely to be scuppered when neither Tootsie or Lucky responded.

The crew found Tootsie and Lucky minutes away from drowning by the rapidly rising tide.
Fortunately the intrepid rescuers were able to calm the animals (and, by the sound of it, their distraught owners) and lift them to safety from the rocks.

The icing on the cake is the accompanying photograph, taken by the author; showing two seemingly identical ferrets, it is carefully labelled 'Tootsie (left) and Lucky' - a level of attention to detail that some of our national newspapers would do well to emulate.

It may come as no surprise that the Press Officer, who has written a book about the lifeboat station, is also listed as their mechanic; it's surely good news for the crews and those who may need rescuing that the lifeboats are in such meticulous hands.

When every day seems to bring us another news report of man's inhumanity (or indifference) to man, it is reassuring to think there are still volunteers out there prepared to risk life and limb if necessary to save lives - and to rescue the occasional pet.

It's a while since we had a toast in the Tavern, so I invite you to raise a glass tonight to the men and women of the RNLI and to their Press Officer in Newbiggin by the sea.


  1. I'm sure the ferrets were duly appreciative.

  2. JH, having had experience of trying to catch ferrets - a pair once got loose on my school bus (not, I suspect, entirely by accident) - I am very impressed at the crew's achievement, not least because a nervous ferret is likely to bite first and ask questions later.

    The owners were, I hope, very grateful but, as far as the ferrets were concerned, virtue probably had to be its own reward. Still, given some of the alcohol-fuelled peril one hears about, the RNLI have probably met feral ingratitude before.

  3. Luckily for lifeboatmen, I suspect their uniform already contains trousers that seal at the ankle...