The memorial alone can’t quite convey the whole story: “In commemoration of the devotion of Tip. The sheepdog which stayed by the body of her dead master Mr. Joseph Tagg on the Howden Moors for fifteen weeks from 12th December 1953 to 27th March 1954.”
The simple stone marker sits just north of the west tower of the historic Derwent Reservoir Dam, a testament to canine loyalty and sheepdog grit.
Tip, a mature 11 years old at the time, was raised by the veteran trainer Tagg, a well-known breeder that locals called “Old Joe.” At 86, he was getting on in years too, but on the 12th of December in 1953 off they went to look after a flock in the Upper Derwent Valley. When they hadn’t returned by the next morning, a rescue team set out to search for the pair.
Sadly, no luck. As the weeks wore on hundreds of hikers joined the search, but with fairly brutal conditions that winter, the going was tough. It wasn’t until the 27th of March—105 days later—that a couple of workers on the moors noticed what they thought was an old coat wedged in a ditch. As they got closer they saw it was Tip, guarding the body of her beloved master after 15 weeks alone in the elements. She was in bad shape, but her instincts kept her to task no matter what.
Tip made it back to be honored with the Bronze Medal of the Canine Defence League, and she lived out her last months in comfort. She was laid to rest on Derwent Edge, looking down on the quiet reservoir, not too far from those unforgiving moors.
Know Before You Go
The little park with the marker is near the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre, alongside the Reservoir dam. There is a scenic lookout nearby, and restroom and catering facilities.