NEWS- Wonder dog: How Freckles saved the day

Dogs have long been called "man's best friend," although the loyalty and friendship of Bowser or Rover are usually reserved for their owner. But when Charles Hitt found himself the victim of a perilous tractor accident, the first answer to his cries came in the form of a neighbor's dog.

Although health problems confine him mostly to his home, 91-year-old Hitt makes one exception: he pilots his tractor across his Greenwood Road farm property to mow the grass. But on June 27, Hitt's solitary ride over the farm's hills put him at the mercy of his machine.

"I turned one direction, and the tractor went the other, throwing me up against a wooden fence," Hitt says. "My leg got caught underneath."

Knowing the layout of his property, Hitt realized that the cars on Rt. 250 would not be able to see him wedged under the fence. His caretaker was back at his residence, eliminating any possible rescue from his dire situation. When Hitt's calls for help remained unanswered after 40 minutes, he says, he surrendered to the silence, thinking he would never be found.

But just as Hitt was losing hope for a timely rescue, he saw Freckles, a neighbor's white spaniel mix, dart across the highway– right onto his property.

"She realized something was wrong or else she would not have crossed over 250," Hitt says. "I'm surprised an automobile didn't knock her off."

Although the four-legged friend could do little physically to rescue Hitt, in time she proved to be just what was needed.

"She gave me a couple of kisses and got me revived again," Hitt says. "The little dog did a lot to get me going; she kept me alive, really."

And Freckles continued to aid him even after offering the initial comfort.

"The little dog went up to my house," Hitt explains. "I guess the lady who was taking care of me saw her and got on the phone."

Although Hitt's caretaker was not available to tell her story, Brett Wilson, Freckles' owner, explains how the dog alerted her to the tractor accident.

"Freckles backed away from her, which is not the way she would normally behave," Wilson explains. "Peggy [the caretaker] kept following the dog, and Freckles led her to where Mr. Hitt was."

After Freckles sounded the alarm, Peggy was able to contact Hitt's friend, Donald Wright, who quickly arrived at the scene to free him. Wright was aided by a young boy who passed by on his bicycle and saw that he needed help lifting the tractor.

"He was coming down Greenwood Road and saw me on the side struggling," Hitt says. "I don't know his name, but I would sure like to thank him."

 Wilson didn't know about his dog's valiant actions until Hitt's caretaker contacted him while he was shopping for building materials at Lowe's.

"She was all in a panic," Wilson explains. "All she communicated to me was that she found my dog and that emergency services were on their way. I thought it was a coincidence."

The details of Hitt's situation were fuzzy to Wilson until he came to retrieve Freckles. However, when Hitt returned from the hospital, he proved that he would never forget Freckles' brave dash across Rt. 250.

"I went back to pick up Freckles, and another gentleman was just pulling up in a pick-up truck," Wilson says. "He told me that Mr. Hitt wanted me to wait. He said, 'Mr. Hitt is incredibly grateful for what Freckles has done.'"

Although the situation ended in a beautiful canine-human friendship rather than life-threatening injuries, Hitt acknowledges that riding his tractor on hilly terrain probably isn't the best idea.

"My friends keep telling me 'Don't ride the tractor again,'" Hitt says. "I will ride it again, but not where there's an incline or a decline."

As for Freckles, Wilson says he always knew she had it in her to be a hero.

"On her license I call her 'Freckles the wonder dog,' and then she does this," he says. "Now she's living up to her name."

Brett Wilson's noble canine, Freckles, made a daring dash across Rt. 250  to aid Charles Hitt, who lay trapped under his tractor.