A life-saver who gave her life

Tara, a golden retriever, once saved the life of a child who had fallen into a river. On Nov. 22, Tara was killed by a hit-and-run driver in an incident that spared the life of her owner, Louise Walden. - KTW FILE PHOTO
Tara, a golden retriever, once saved the life of a child who had fallen into a river. On Nov. 22, Tara was killed by a hit-and-run driver in an incident that spared the life of her owner, Louise Walden.
— image credit: KTW FILE PHOTO

Louise Walden knows her dog Tara saved a toddler’s life years ago.

Today, Walden is pretty sure the golden retriever also saved her life — while losing its own when a hit-and-run driver missed the widow by mere inches.

Even now, less than two weeks since a car on Hugh Allan Drive hit Tara, Walden cannot figure out how her dog was killed and she was spared.

The pair, out for one of their regular walks through the Aberdeen neighbourhood, had crossed Hugh Allan Drive at Howe Road and were in the bike lane, about to step onto the sidewalk.

Tara’s leash was in Walden’s hand, as was the cane she uses to walk.

“Where did it come from?” Walden says. “There was no car at all and then it was just there.

“That driver destroyed my constant companion and didn’t even stop. If someone had been at the bus stop, they would have been hit, too.”

Walden has few memories of the incident, other than the kindness of strangers who stopped to help her.

A man whose name she never got stopped his car, turned it around and used it to block the dog’s body so it wouldn’t be hit again — and so Walden could not see the animal she bought as a puppy a decade ago.

Brandan Rose-Bryant also stopped, got a blanket from her car and covered Tara’s body.

City bylaws officers came and took Tara away, returning the next day with the dog’s ashes, a plaque commemorating her life and a card signed by many who had been there that day to help.

Rose-Bryant took the blanket home, washed it and gave it to Walden to keep.

It may seem a strange memento, but Walden says of seeing it covering her dog: “It was as if that blanket also kept me warm.”

Dogs have always been a part of Walden’s life.

A widow since 1986 — and mother to daughters ages four and seven when their dad died — Tara was the family’s third dog.

At the time of her husband’s death, they had Caesar, a Dalmation, who was followed by Sadie, a Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever.

Both died from natural causes.

Then, Walden got Tara from a family in North Vancouver, where she was living at the time.

One of the reasons she moved to Kamloops, she says, was because it was more dog-friendly than other communities she was considering.

“She was a water dog,” Walden says of Tara, “and she loved to swim in the river.”

It was a river outing that led to the toddler rescue.

While walking in Lynn Valley near Grouse Mountain one day, Walden saw a toddler in a red coat slip and fall into the water while the child’s mother wasn’t watching.

“And, I just yelled ‘Tara, go fetch,’” Walden says.

“She had always played fetch with a red ball and she just ran into the water and grabbed that little one. The mother went off on us, thinking Tara was hurting her baby, but I told her what had happened while she wasn’t keeping an eye on her child.”

From then on, Walden says, Tara would try to get in between any youngsters and water.

Today, she’s left with her memories and photographs of Tara.

There may be another dog in her future — but not right now.

What Walden really wants is to find the person who took her constant companion.

Tara was killed by a hit-and-run driver at High Allan Drive and Howe Road on Thursday, Nov. 22, at about 4:45 p.m. Anybody with information is urged to contact Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000.


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