Many years ago, when my children were young, we went on holiday somewhere. We were hit by flash floods, and there was chaos everywhere.

In the midst of the chaos, we spotted a dog floating on a small piece of wood with her newborn puppies. The puppies were mewling piteously whilst the mother-dog was barking desperately, calling for help. In the split second that we saw this, my son had jumped into the swollen river and swam towards the dogs. He was about eight-years-old then. His father cursed and went after him as I stood frozen with my arms round my other children. We put the shivering dogs in our rented car and drove them to a dog rescue.

Years later, when he was a grown man, I asked my son if he remembered this incident (in a conversation about his recklessness).

“I remember fighting with you about Einstein’s theory of relativity more,” he answered cheekily. “I was eight. We were walking by the river, by Ruedi’s flat. He had lent us his flat that summer.”

And then, as an afterthought, he nodded, “Yeah, the dog and her puppies.”

“What made you do that crazy thing?”

His answer rocked my core. He said,  “The expression on the dog’s face. When she saw me, she stopped barking. It was as if she thought, here comes humans, they know what to do. I had to do it, Mum. Because hope is the strongest thing alive and I couldn’t let it die.”