Story of Shepherd Dog Shep's Long Vigil Part 3

About the history of the dog shepherd dog Shep who kept a long vigil in Montana.


Many well-meaning persons offered Shep a home. Dog homes in Florida and Los Angeles offered to take him in. And some 50 sheepherders, said Agent Schanche in 1940, had asked to have Shep, often coming in person to see the dog and make their request.

By that time, however, it was obvious that Shep was leading exactly the life he wanted to lead, meeting each train and making certain that his master did not return to Fort Benton without receiving a proper greeting from his dog. So all offers and requests were gently declined.

As the story of Shep continued to spread, thousands of persons saw the dog from the windows of Great Northern trains at Fort Benton, or descended to the platform to meet him in person. Parties traveling by automobile often made special trips to the Fort Benton depot to see the dog. He was the object of attention at each train, as visitors attempted to make friends with him and often tried to photograph him.

This interest caused trials to a shy and retiring dog, too. For he was especially camera shy, the click of a shutter--and soon, through the early years in particular, the very sight of one of the black boxes--sending him off at full speed. And the attention of visitors, children, and grown-ups alike, the attempts to pet him, to come to immediate friendly terms, although flattering, were somewhat unwelcome to the independent character of Shep, who was a one-man dog.

Worst trial to both Shep and the station force was the well-meaning people who believed that Shep was being mistreated. They wanted to stuff him with all the food he could hold, to give him an easy life and a comfortable home.

These persons missed the one essential point.

Shep had set himself a task--to meet every train coming to Fort Benton--to see that his master was properly welcomed when he returned. To complete this task, some discomforts had to be endured, but Shep was an outdoor dog and to him they were minor indeed.

And life was much easier than it had been, too, he undoubtedly felt. There was food from his friends and allies, the station employees and the dining car stewards. There was water available. There was the nest under the station platform, and Shep knew, too, that if the winter nights grew too cold, there was shelter for the asking in the station.

What more could a dog want? Except, of course, his master! And that was the point of his vigil.

So the long years passed. Shep could have had a hundred masters. But he already had one, and he would wait for his return.

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