A Faithful Dog
If you are a passenger on the Great Northern train that passes through Fort Benton, Montana, and see a shepherd dog pacing up and down the station platform, it may be just another dog to you, according to Ed Shields of Great Falls, veteran Great Northern conductor, but to trainmen it means a lot more.
“That dog has met every train for approximately three years,” Shields said recounting the story. “The dog is looking for his master—a man who came to Montana looking for relief from a dreaded disease.
“The man took a job herding sheep. The most important thing a shepherd needs is a good dog. A sheepman gave him the dog, at that time a puppy, and loaned him an older dog to teach the young fellow to watch the sheep during the day and round them up when it came time to return to the camp.
“The young dog soon learned to handle sheep without the aid of the older dog, but as time went on, disease took the life of the herder. The good people of the community saw that the body was sent back to his old home in an eastern state. The dog followed the body of his master to the Great Northern station of Fort Benton and saw it loaded on the train.
“This incident was soon forgotten by all except the faithful dog, who has remained at the station, meeting every train—day and night - in hopes that the next one will return his master to him.
“He has refused to make up with anyone and is seldom seen except at train time. After the train had departed, he crawls back under the station to patiently await the next one. The section foreman, taking pity on the dog, tried to coax him to come into the section house to stay but the dog refused to leave the spot where he last saw his master, and the good - natured foreman for nearly three years has been bringing food to the station and leaving it for the dog.
“Last spring when the weather warmed and the chinook melted the heavy snow, a portion of the tracks was swept away and trains had to be detoured over another line for a period of ten days. On one of these evenings the foreman asked the agent what had become of `Old Shep,’ as the dog had become known.
“‘I do not know,’ the agent said, `I have not seen him for several days. I suppose he has left.’
“The first train to reach Fort Benton after the tracks had been repaired came in at night. The station agent, preparing to meet the train, stepped out on the platform, and, to his surprise, found Old Shep was there.”
Shields said the agent has tried to coax Old Shep into the station but the dog refuses to do anything but crawl back into his den under the station.
Perhaps Shep is dreaming of the days he spent with his master and the sheep, and listening for the whistle of the next train that may return his master to him.
If the simple old dog, with no hope of Heaven and no fear of hell, will be so loyal to its master, how ought not we, the crown of God’s creation, the recreated ones, look for the glorious Return of our blessed Lord — David Nygren, in Revival Dynamite.
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