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Fort Benton, Montana 59442
" The Enduring Legend Of Old Shep "
By Erik Floren, Sun Media
Back in August 1936, an ailing Shepard was hospitalized here.
Waiting patiently outside the hospital sat his faithful companion, a collie named "OLD SHEP".
But the shepard died and his body was shipped back east
to his relatives for burial by the Great Northern Railroad.
As legend has it, Ol' Shep followed th casket, whining, from the hospital to the station but was prevented from boarding the train.
So there he sat waiting.
For more than five years, ol' Shep greeted each train as it pulled into the station, hoping to
finally meet his master.
Shep's story was carried in newspapers around the world and appeared in Ripley's "Believe It Or Not", two and a half years into his vigil.
Ironically,Shep was run over by a trail on January 12, 1942.
By that time the story was so well known that both the AP & UPI carried his obituary, pushing aside some of the war news.
School was dismissed in Fort Benton for the funeral.
Cub Scouts were the pallbearers.
Songs were penned and booklets written.
Great Northern employees buried the dog and put up a marker over the grave on the bluffs overlooking the train station.
That marker is still there.
In 1992, the 50th anniversary of Shep's death, Fort Benton citizens raised $100,000 to further honour the faithful canine.
And a bronze statue of Shep was erected along Fort Benton's levee, beside the Grand Union Hotel, in 1995.
The dog has thus been forever honoured.
"The legend of Shep exemplified the devotion and faithfulness of dogs everywhere'. said Jack Lepley, a former local biology teacher who...as a Cub Scout...was one of thepallbears at Shep's funeral 50 years ago.
But Lepley, who wrote a booklet on this amazing story winked: "Certain folks grumble that Shep actually spent most of his time running around eating chickens."
A special thanx to Howard Vokes for furnishing this story.