Hero dog from tragic 1953 flood to be honored with a statue
The village of Scharendijke has commissioned a statue of a dog that helped rescue dozens of animals during the tragic flood of 1953. The dikes along the islands of Zeeland and Zuid-Holland were breached on February 1 that year during a severe storm combined with the spring tide.
Some 1,836 people were killed in Zeeland, Zuid-Holland, Noord-Brabant, and Noord-Holland. About 150,000 hectares of land were completely flooded, and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.
Years earlier, the De Jonge family acquired a new puppy to live on their farm. They named him Bläsz, and he “was a very charming dog,” said former Scharendijke resident Rinus Hubregtse. The puppy was bred by the village’s mayor. “The animal ran back and forth,” he told Omroep Zeeland, describing the animal as being very lively and spirited, with experience herding animals on the farm.
When the flood waters approached the De Jonge’s farm, the cattle could not be coaxed out of the barn. They were cut loose so that they could still run to safety when the water approached, but they refused to leave the barn. Bläsz made it to higher ground on a dike but ran back to the cows to get them moving.
“Bläszdrove the cows together by nipping at their feet. After hours, the animals arrived safely at the dike. Without him, the cows would not have survived," Hubregtse said.
But then the dog ran back into the water to help the animals from a neighboring farm. “It is not known exactly how many cows he saved. But it is several dozens,” he said.
When she visited the damage caused by the flooding, Queen Juliana met Bläsz, and shook his paw. He was also heralded as a hero in the press.
Miems van Citters used photos of Bläsz to create a statue from papier mache and wax, the broadcaster said. It was her father who bred the dog. After the flooding on De Jonge’s farm, she was tasked with caring for the animal again. “The dog had to be spoiled, because he was skinny," she told the broadcaster. "He got better again very quickly. It was always a very sweet animal.” Bläsz died in 1955, two years after the flood.
The statue is in the process of being recreated from stone, and will be presented in the village on February 3.