Bobbie, the Wonderdog of Silverton Oregon
Ninety years ago, on a long road trip from home, “Bob” got separated from his family after being chased by some mongrels in Wolcott Indiana. The Brazier family looked for him, and left instructions to keep him if he came back. They continued their journey (in 1923 – by motor car and mostly dirt road.) When they got back to Wolcott, Bobbie was still missing. So leaving instructions this time to send him home to Silverton Oregon by Rail Car at their expense, they went home.
Six months later, to the day, Bobbie found his way home to Silverton. No better words then those of his owner can describe this story;
“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 without 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.”
After that Bobbie because a star nation wide. Letters poured in from around the country, many claiming to have seen Bobby and telling tales of his time with animal lovers across the country. Many of those letters are preserved in Wonder Dog: The Story of Silverton Bobbie and Silverton’s Bobbie: His Amazing Journey-The True Story.
Bobbie’s Impact is such that the City of Silverton holds “Bobbie the Wonder Dog” days in February of each year complete with a “Look-alike” contest. And a mural is dedicated to him. A specially made “Bungalow” for Bobbie now sits in the Oregon Human Society’s Pet Graveyard being their building. Even star of the Big (and Little) Screen, Rin Tin Tin, visited Bobbie at his grave site.
You have to wonder if such a thing would happen these days. Very likely a dog would not be able to avoid capture by Animal Control Officers.