Man’s best friend is often seen as merely a guard dog, now-and-then friend or backyard ball play companion, but Jock of the Bushveld was all of this and so much more. He was undoubtedly South Africa’s (and Kruger’s) most famous dog!
Jock, a Staffordshire Bullterrier cross, started life as the runt of the litter in 1885 somewhere near the modern day Pretoriuskop camp in Southern Kruger. He was adopted by Percy Fitzpatrick, a transport rider who carted supplies for the goldfields at Pilgrim’s Rest in the old Transvaal province from the harbours in Mozambique.
Jock started following Fitzpatrick from when he could walk, without any coaching! Jock would eventually accompany his master on all his journeys through the Kruger Park as well as the neighbouring areas. He grew up to be a faithful and obedient companion, but also a champion fighter and fearless protector, as well as a successful hunter. Many incredible stories of Jock’s bravery, cunning and dedication followed through their years together.
Jock permanently lost his hearing when a kudu kicked him, and he was never the same after that. Jock died in an unfortunate accident, when a friend of Fitzpatrick shot him, thinking he was stealing chickens when in fact he was trying to catch the chicken thief! The exact location of Jock´s grave is unfortunately not officially marked or known.
The classic book Jock of the Bushveld was written by Fitzpatrick in 1907, telling all the famous stories about their adventures together. It was originally intended to be for only his children to read as bedtime stories, but has become one of South Africa’s most loved tales and has never been out of print. Several movies have also been made about Jock’s life, retelling the stories of this hero dog.
Jock’s incredible adventures are remembered in Kruger by bronze plaques on rocks placed wherever the canine’s route crosses the modern day Kruger roads; a fitting tribute to a legend!