The first dog may have approached some campfire, looking for a morsel. Maybe someone took in a sick or injured pup. A wolf pack could have learned to shadow human hunting parties, and the two groups learned to work together for their mutual benefit. The facts surrounding the domestication of that first dog some fifteen thousand years ago, are lost to history. But one thing is certain. When it comes to loyalty, there is nothing to beat the heart of a dog.
Miguel Guzmán of Cordoba Argentina, died in 2006. The following day Capitán, the family’s German Shepherd, disappeared. Mrs. Guzmán and the couple’s son launched a day-long search, until the dog arrived at the cemetery, some forty-five minutes, away. No one knows how he got there. The family claims they never brought him. Cemetery director Hector Baccega remembers when he first saw the dog: ‘He turned up here one day, all on his own, and started wandering all around the cemetery until he eventually found the tomb of his master”.
Capitán was taken home but he was back, the following day. Baccega describes what has since become, routine: “During the day he sometimes has a walk around the cemetery, but always rushes back to the grave. And every day, at six o’clock sharp, he lies down on top of the grave stays there all night”.
Capitán lived to fifteen or sixteen, old for a large breed, and died this February, in the cemetery in which he had lived. In the end he was crippled and blind, when he went to join his “Dad”. Who knows, I certainly don’t: maybe they are together again.
“Greyfriar’s Bobby” was a Skye Terrier in 19th-century Edinburgh, who waited 14 years by the grave of his owner, Police nightwatchman, John Gray. There he died in 1872 and was buried in the Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from where his master lay.
Artist William Brodie created a life-sized likeness atop the Greyfriars Bobby Fountain in Edinburgh, paid for by a local aristocrat, Baroness Burdett-Coutts and dedicated on this day, in 1873
Hachikō, an Akita known to Japanese children as chūken Hachikō (“faithful dog Hachikō”), used to tag along with his owner Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor of agriculture at Tokyo University. Ueno would commute to work and every evening, Hachikō would wait at the Shibuya Station, for the professor’s return. Hidesaburō stopped coming home in May 1925, when a cerebral hemorrhage took him away, while delivering a lecture. Every day for nine years, nine months and fifteen days, the golden colored Akita appeared at Shibuya Station, precisely in time for that evening train.
Ruswarp was a fourteen-year old Border Collie who went hiking with Graham Nuttall on January 20, 1990 in the Welsh Mountains, near Llandrindod. On April 7, a hiker discovered Nuttall’s body near a mountain stream, where the dog had been standing guard for eleven weeks. Ruswarp was so weak he had to be carried off the mountain, and died shortly after. Today, there is a statue in his memory, on a platform near the Garsdale railway station.
In the early morning hours of August 6, 2011, Thirty American military service personnel including 22 US Navy SEALs were killed along with eight Afghans, SEAL Team 6 handler John “Jet Li” Douangdara and his Military Working Dog (MWD) “Bart”, when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Kunar Province, of Afghanistan.
To anyone around at that time, those images of “Hawkeye”, together for the last time with slain Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, are hard to forget.
“Shep” belonged to an unknown sheep herder near Fort Benton, in Montana. In 1936, the man fell ill, and was taken to a local hospital.
For over a week, Shep waited at the hospital, for his master to return. On the 11th day the man died, his casket taken to the local train station and placed in the cargo hold, to be returned home for burial.
Shep was there throughout and watched the train chug away with the body of his “Dad”. He’d return to that hospital door where a kindly nun would feed him a scrap, but every time he heard that train whistle, there was a sheepdog waiting at the station.
In those days, there were four trains a day. For nearly six years, Shep returned to the station, every time he heard that whistle. He even dug a den for himself, near the track.
Passengers took the Havre to Great Falls rail line just to see the dog. Shep received so much fan mail, the Great Northern Railroad assigned a secretary to help pen responses.
In time, the dog wasn’t quite so fast as he used to be, his hearing not so good. On January 12, 1942, “Forever Faithful” Shep was struck and killed on the tracks, waiting for a man who could never return.
Stories such as these are enough to fill a book, if not library. I see a bumper sticker sometimes, in traffic. I’m not a big one for those things but, if I were. This would be my first: “Lord, make me half the man my dog thinks I am“.