A terrier in Australia has saved himself from death row by singing Happy Birthday. Poor old Patches' elderly master passed away and, in the confusion that followed, 17-year-old Patches ended up in the pound. As relatives desperately tried to find him, it seemed the search for the dog, who used to howl along as his master sang, would be in vain. But then a Victorian Dog Rescue foster carer found a dog matching Patches' description at Mildura Pound - and was asked to sing Happy Birthday to it.
"I started singing to him and at first he got a sad, faraway look in his eyes, just like he was thinking about something or missing someone," Kaye Grivec said. "Then he put his head back and started howling along with me and I just burst into tears of joy." Marie Vassallo, the Sydney-based daughter of Patches' late master Eddie, said the dog had spent hours sitting on her father's knee while he sang songs to him, mostly in Italian. "When they finished singing, Dad would say, 'Bravo, bravo, Patches' and Patches just loved it," she said.
"When it was anyone's birthday, Dad would telephone them and sing Happy Birthday to them with Patches singing along. It was Patches' favourite song and it became a family tradition for Dad and Patches to sing it together." Mr Vassallo was 82 when he died three months ago. Patches had been his constant companion for 15 years. Ms Vassallo said she was heartbroken in the aftermath of her father's death to discover Patches had gone missing and probably would have been impounded for at least three weeks. "It meant his time on death row would have been up and he had probably been destroyed.
"But through Victorian Dog Rescue we were able to find him again in Mildura and now we are organising to have him brought to Sydney to live out his life with us." Ms Vassallo praised the animal organisation for "doing the impossible and rescuing old dogs no one wants from pounds and then finding new homes for them. Patches would be dead and buried by now except that Victorian Dog Rescue go the extra lengths to find homes for dogs others think are impossible to place," she said. "In this case, they have returned a much-loved dog back to his very grateful family."