A retired dressmaker who has lived in her comfy home for over 40 years now, Ackerly is mom to five kids, grandma to eight, and even great-grandma to seven. She has been a widow for over a decade. So, a few years back, she decided to adopt a dog. Axel is a stunning cross between an Akita and a German Shepherd. She had no idea, but her decision to adopt the pup ended up saving her life later on.
Joyce jokingly nicknamed Axel “the destroyer” initially, since he seemed a little aggressive. But he settled down quickly in his new home. The adorable mix became his owner’s shadow, following her everywhere.
“Axel is a member of the family, he’s usually a big softie and he even sleeps in my bedroom,” Joyce says. Joyce was in the backyard when a man came to the gate. She went to see what he wanted, but he charged in and hit her on the head with a stick. The blow knocked the poor elderly woman to the ground.
The man shouted at her to give him her jewellery, but Axel interfered. He jumped at the attacker and knocked him down. Then he bit his arm.“Where I go, Axel goes. When the man grabbed me I must have screamed as he rushed straight up the garden and jumped at the man and knocked him to the floor,” Joyce recalled.
But the man got free and took off running. The dog returned to check in on the woman after he had chased the burglar away.“I’ve never seen Axel react like that before, normally he is as gentle as a lamb.”
After the attack, Joyce was sore and flustered. She has had some trouble with memory since hitting her head. But she says that without Axel, situations might have gotten even worse.“What he did to me I don’t want him to do to any other older person,” she says, ‘if Axel hadn’t been there anything could have happened.”
The police and paramedics arrived as soon as they were called. “This lady was enjoying a spring afternoon in her garden when she was violently assaulted by a man who showed no concern when he struck the 86-year-old over the head,” said Detective Constable Steven Hughes. “She managed to escape without serious injury, but this incident could have been much worse if her dog hadn’t stepped in and scared the offender away.”
Axel had the burglar’s blood all around his mouth, but since he drank some water after the attack, cops weren’t able to get the DNA. But they shared the man’s description, along with heroic Axel’s story, in hopes of catching him.
“Imagine if this was your mum or grandma,” the Detective said. “Please, if you saw something that day that could help with our enquiries, share this with police as soon as you can.”
“Axel is very protective, even now, when I go to the bottom of the garden he comes with me and watches the gate all the time,” Joyce says. “I am very proud of him and grateful – he got spoiled afterward.”