Atop a bluff overlooking the town of Fort Benton, Montana sits the grave of Old Shep, the most loyal dog to ever grace the town’s train tracks.
Back in August 1936, the coffin of a sheepherder was loaded onto a train to be shipped back East to the herder’s family. Following the coffin was Shep, a Border Collie Mix and the sheepherder’s dog.
When the train took off with the coffin, however, it left behind Shep, who took up residence at the train station for five-and-a-half years until his death in January 1942, waiting loyally for his master to return.
Every day, Shep would greet all four trains that entered the station in hopes that he would be reunited with his master. The shaggy shepherd dog became such a fixture at the train station that people began to travel from all over the country to snap a photo or even try to adopt him. After a certain point, the dog became such a phenomenon nationwide that the then-column known as “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not” featured his story, calling Shep “a greater friend”.
After years of living at the train station, Shep had grown old and sickly, and so on January 12, 1942, Shep didn’t notice the sound of a train approaching the station and passed away.
“Here at Fort Denton, we’ve always looked on [Shep’s story] as just one example of the great faithfulness that a dog has to its master,” Randy Morger, executive director of the River and Plains Society, said to Dateline NBC.
To honor Shep’s memory at a local level, hundreds of people gathered for the funeral in 1942 and Shep’s body was buried atop the bluff overlooking the town of Fort Benton alongside an obelisk erected in the dog’s honor. At a national level, Shep’s obituary was picked up by the AP and UPI.
In 1994, on the fiftieth anniversary of Shep’s death, Fort Benton put together a committee to create a more lasting memorial. A statue of Shep built by Bob Scriver now sits in the park known as Shepherd’s Court in the town of Fort Benton, once Shep’s stomping grounds.
Shep’s heartwarming story should serve as a reminder to all of us that our furry friends are forever faithful.
H/t to Dateline NBC
Featured image via DC Memorials