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Shannon the dog is "one in a million" after guiding Peggy Mandry to her husband, Ted, who was gravely injured.

Farmer injured in tractor accident owes his life to his dog

By Tonya Maxwell
Photography by Ron Chasteen

Three tons of tractor and equipment pinned Ted Mandry's mangled leg to the ground. For two hours, the Missouri farmer whistled and yelled for help, but it seemed the sound couldn't ascend the banks of the gully. He was exhausted and losing blood.

"I had finally reached the point where I thought either a minor miracle would occur or this is the end for me," he remembers. "About that time Peggy and Shannon came."

Peggy is his wife. Their dog Shannon was his minor miracle. The border collie-golden retriever mix has been named a hero for leading Peggy to her husband — a move that saved his life.

On a June day in 2004, Peggy set off to see neighbors and Ted planned to cut hay in the south field. They left the 8-year-old dog in the house, as they always do when Ted mows, to keep her safe from moving farm machinery.

Ted, then 64, began by clearing brush from their Washington, MO, farm.

He piled limbs on the tractor's front-end loader, then parked the machine in front of a gully. He climbed down from the tractor, pulled the brush from the loader, and tossed it into the ravine.

"Just about the time I finished, the tractor popped out of park and started rolling," he says.

He saw the lumbering tractor too late. The loader knocked him into the 10-foot ravine and its tongs dug into the opposite bank. When it stopped, his right calf was trapped between metal and dirt and the tractor balanced precariously against the other side.

When Peggy returned home, she found Shannon uneasy and nervous. Soon, Shannon frantically began scratching the door and tearing up the floor. It was odd behavior for an easy-going dog who never destroyed anything.

"I didn't pay much attention to her. She was upset because she wanted to chase that tractor," Peggy remembers. "Finally, I tied a rope on her. I was going to tie her outside with her halter."

But when the door opened, Shannon bolted, dragging the 67-year-old woman behind for a third of a mile. Peggy still didn't understand until they reached the gully. The dog stopped short and Peggy saw her husband trapped, with the bone and muscle of his leg exposed.

"He lost the leg, but thanks to Shannon, he didn't lose his life. Without her, I wouldn't have him," Peggy says. "She's one in a million."

Looking back, the couple suspects Shannon heard Ted's familiar whistles. She's since been honored as the National Hero Dog by the Los Angeles chapter of the SPCA.

She's led a local parade and folks tend to give her pats on the head for her loyal instincts. She likes the attention, but otherwise, her happy life has changed little, Ted says.

"She sleeps on the floor of the bedroom. Always did," he says. "She goes out during the day and does the things that make her happy."

But these days, there's something a little extra special about the dog who loves to run around the Mandrys' fields, and Ted is happy to say why: "She's my hero."

Tonya Maxwell is a writer in Chicago.