This amazing true story explains how this unassuming Collie earned himself the title Wonder Dog of Oregon.
If you were a young lad and became separated from your friends in a strange land, 2500 miles from home, where you could only make yourself understood by signs, do you suppose you could manage to travel–most of the way on Foot-back to your own home? And what if you were a dog?
This is the story of Bobbie, the “wonder dog of Oregon,” as he has been fitly called, after the most extraordinary achievement of intelligence, persistency and loyalty ever recorded to the glory of dogdom and to the confusion of those stupid people who still say that a dog is only a dog, chiefly interested in bones.
Here follows the tale as set down by his master.
My wife, my two stepdaughters, Nova and Leona, and myself, were living at a farm on the Abiqua when we bought Bobbie, a naturally bobtailed Scotch collie with a mixture of a third shepherd. He was then just six weeks old, a rollicking, full-of-fun puppy, and we all loved him. He was not the only dog in the house, for we had a fox-terrier, Toodles, who had made the journey out to Oregon with us when we motored there from Indiana, and won our hearts by his watchfulness and faithfulness. Bobbie and Toodles became great friends.
The farm we rented was “In hops,” and as we had come West to be outdoors and regain our health, we all worked in the hop fields, both dogs playing near and having the time of their lives. We moved often, following the market demands, and very soon Bobbie began to show aptitudes which were to stand him in good stead later. He was a natural “heeler.” When only two months old he would heel cats, horses and people, driving them ahead of him wherever he wanted them to go. At one place he was bringing in a horse who was lively with his hoofs, and before Bobbie knew it, he was sailing through the air with a well-placed kick. He blinked and caught his breath and the next second was up and after the rebellious equine, keeping at a safe distance, but worrying him until he was safe in the corral. This left a mark over the dog’s eye, which helped to identify him at a future day. Our next stop was a fruit farm, where they used a tractor. Bob was asleep, quite unconscious of danger, when the machine caught him. His leg was crushed into the ground, which, fortunately, being deeply cultivated, was very soft and kept him from serious injury, but the mishap left another scar. His third accident came from an encounter with an old gopher. While digging furiously to get at the “varmint,” he broke off parts of two teeth.
When Bobbie was about a year old our dear little Toodles had a paralytic stroke and passed away. We buried him back of the barn. Soon after we bought the Reo Cafe in Silverton, and realizing that it was no fit place to keep a dog used to running at large in the country, we sold him to a friend who was to live on the farm we were leaving. But Bob soon located us and came into town every week-end, going back to the farm Monday morning.
Then my wife and I decided we would go back East on a visit and take Bob with us. So we repurchased him at three times the amount we had sold him for, and one fine morning left Silverton in our touring car, the dog riding on the running board or on top of the luggage. How that dog enjoyed the trip! When we were going slow enough or stopped for a bite to eat, he would dash off after a rabbit or on an exploring expedition over the hills, coming back after an hour or so, panting and grinning to tell us all about it. We reached Wolcott, Indiana, and stopped for our first visit. Leaving Mrs. Brazier at the house Bob and I went to the filling station to get the car “tanked up.” I was inside when I heard the dog give a yelp, and rushing out, saw him rounding a corner with three or four snarling curs at his heels.
Thinking he would take care of himself as usual, I went back to the car, expecting to find him at the house when I returned. When after an hour or so he had not appeared, we began to get anxious, and as Bob knew the sound of the horn and would come running whenever I sounded it I drove slowly all around town, honking at frequent intervals, never doubting but that presently I would see him bounding toward me. It was midnight before I gave up, very much depressed, as you may Imagine. The next morning still saw no Bob, so I got busy on the phone, calling up everyone in and around Wolcott, but no one had seen our pet. The weekly paper went to Press that day, but I got in touch with the editor–a mighty fine fellow and a great lover of dogs- and he made room for an advertisement which was to run as long as we were in that part of the country, though with out result. We visited around Indiana for three weeks, motored into Ohio, then back to Wolcott and resumed our search, but at last turned our faces toward home, sick at heart over our loss, leaving word that if the dog turned up he was to be secured and shipped back to us.
Exactly six months later, my youngest girl, Nova, and her chum were walking down a street in Silverton when suddenly my daughter gasped and seized her friend by the arm, exclaiming, “Oh! look! Isn’t that Bobbie?” At the words a shaggy, bedraggled, lean dog just beyond them turned his head and the next moment fairly flew at Nova, leaping up again and again to cover her face with kisses and making half-strangled, sobbing sounds of relief and delight as if he could hardly voice his wordless joy. It was Bobbie, sure enough, and it was a glad and triumphant procession which hurried on to the restaurant, where the dog hunted out my wife and Leona, and told them how happy he was to be home again.
But there was someone else he wanted to see. Paying no attention to the crowd of curious and sympathetic bystanders, he rushed through the rooms in search of me. As I take charge of things at night, I was sleeping upstairs, and was awakened by a whirlwind which burst in at my door, con! posed of my excited wife and dog. “Look who’s here,” she cried. I could not believe my eyes. But it was no dream, for a wet tongue lapping feverishly at my face and two dirty paws resting on my shoulders, told me it was not a ghost, but Bobbie sure enough, who had miraculously re turned. When the welcome was over, he dropped on the rug at my side, tired and worn, and had a bit of sleep, in which I joined, to be awakened presently by my faithful friend licking my hand. Then I jumped up and we went downstairs, where he had the choicest meal the place afforded, a thick, tender, sirloin steak and a pint of cream.
Poor Bob was almost “all in.” For three days he did little but eat and sleep and would look at us so pitifully as if to say, “My, but I am just worn out. Can’t you help me?” He would roll over on his back and hold up his pads, fixing us with his eyes to tell us how sore his feet were. His toe-nails were down to the quick, his eyes inflamed, his coat uneven and matted, and his whole bearing that of an animal which has been through a grilling experience. When he first came back he would eat little hut raw meat, showing that he had depended for sustenance chiefly on his own catches of rabbits or prairie fowl.
One day we took him out to the farm where we formerly lived. Bob inspected his old bed on the porch and ran all around sniffing at familiar spots. Suddenly he seemed to recall something and darted out to the barn, we following to note what he would do. He went straight to the spot where Toodles was buried, and I must say the tears stood in our eyes to see him, digging as hard as he could, trying to get down to his old friend. If anyone had doubted that it was the same dog, that little scene would have convinced them.
Bobbie was three years old when just six months to the day on which he disappeared in Indiana, he turned up in Silverton, 2551 miles by speedometer. This does not include detours which we know he made, because we have received letters from people who housed and fed him on his homeward way. His “dog sense” and his love for us led him over three thousand miles, across river and prairie, through towns and wilderness, straight to his own folks. There was no doubt as to its being Bobbie, for he was fully identified not only by his behavior, but by his three scars. In addition, since his return, we have had many letters from persons who saw him at different stages of his journey. He would turn up at some house where we had stopped or some town we had passed through, his eyes half closed and red with strain, his feet bleeding, ravenously hungry, so tired he was ready to drop. Some friend of dogs would feed and doctor him and he would rest for a while, but just as soon as he could, he would be up and away again. Or perhaps he would jump in a car where there were children and go home with them. He would run all over the house, searching upstairs and down, before he would eat, then he would accept a lodging for the night and be off in the morning before breakfast. We are told he was always looking for someone and always in a hurry.
Bobbie has had many honors, as he fitly deserves. The Oregon Humane Society gave him a silver medal, engraved with the record of his long-distance journey. The presentation was made at Eugene Field School, (left) by Mr. Robert Goetz, superintendent of schools, and a large crowd witnessed the ceremony.
A month later the Portland Realty Board held a home beautifying exposition in that city, and a local contractor built Bob a miniature bungalow, which weighed about nine hundred pounds, with eight windows curtained with silk and every convenience which even a traveled dog could wish. Bobbie and his new house were on exhibition all that week, and one evening he was formally presented with a deed to his domicile. He was also given a silver-plated collar, suitably inscribed. Over a hundred thousand persons petted Bob during that week. He was the honored guest of the show, but I must add his head was not at all turned by the reception. Nor is this all. He received presents almost daily, with requests for his picture; has had columns and columns of newspaper stories printed about him, and his photograph has appeared so many times that we have had to get a special scrapbook for all the articles and pictures.
Bob, we hope and believe, will never leave us again. He is dearer to us than ever, and as for his proud “folks,” you could not match us in any State of the Union. Do you not agree with us that he fully deserves his title of “the wonder dog of Oregon”?