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Tag: montana

Shep: Montana dog was faithful to the end

It may be a dog in Japan who is most famous for demonstrating the true meaning of loyalty, but the vigil of a Montana dog, named Shep, is at least equally heart-wrenching.

The story of Shep’s vigil begins, almost eerily, the year after the death of Hachiko, the Akita who, after his master died, famously waited for him every day at a train station for nearly 10 years.

Hachiko would accompany his master, a university professor, to the train station every morning, and be waiting for him when he returned. When his master didn’t get off the train one day, having died while at work, Hachiko continued going to the train station every day for nine years and nine months, until he died in 1935.

In 1936, a sheep herder in Montana took ill and was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. His dog followed him into town, and waited outside the hospital.

A nun who ran the kitchen at the hospital brought the dog food as he stood vigil for the next several days, until the sheep herder, whose name has been lost to history, died.

His body was put into a coffin and taken to the train station in Fort Benton to be shipped to his family back east.

As it was loaded onto the train, Shep was there watching. Reportedly, he whimpered as the door slammed shut and the train pulled away,

The dog chased the train for a while, then turned back.

For the next five and a half years, Shep, believed to be a collie mix, never left the train station. He lived underneath the train platform, and would greet each train that stopped — about four a day — in hopes of seeing his master.

According to FortBenton.com, Shep “eyed each passenger hopefully, and was often chased off as a mongrel but never completely discouraged. Neither the heat of summer days nor the bitter Montana winter days prevented Shep from meeting the next train.

“As Shep’s fame spread, people came from everywhere to see him, to photograph him, and to try and make friends and possibly adopt him. All of the attention was somewhat unwelcome; after checking the train he often retired quickly to get away from those who came to see him. Most people missed the point that Shep was a one-man dog.”

Railroad employees fed Shep, and the story of his vigil was carried in the old “Believe it Or Not” newspaper feature, and picked up by other news media of the day.

As time went on, though, Shep was slowing down, probably arthritic, and he had grown hard of hearing.

One day in 1942, unable to hear an arriving train and too slow and frail to get off the icy tracks, Shep was struck and killed.

His death made headlines and thousands of people sent in condolences.

Hundreds attended his funeral, at which a boy scout troop carried Shep in his coffin up to a bluff and buried him.

An obelisk and sign mark the spot of his burial, and 50 years after his death the town of Fort Benton commissioned a statue memorializing Shep, which now sits alongside the Missouri River.

NBC’s Dateline carried a short report about Shep last week:

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Get off your butt, Butte

butte

A proposal that would have allowed leashed dogs — leashed dogs! — at all public parks in Butte appears all but dead.

While Butte-Silver Bow County commissioners endorsed the idea of looking at a second dog park, they didn’t budge Wednesday night when it came to a proposal to alter the local law that bans dogs — even those on leashes — in all of the other parks in Butte.

Because, as one commissioner said, “dogs don’t belong in parks.”

Even in a town as stuck in the past as Butte — the “richest hill on earth,” the home of our good friend, the Auditor — that kind of thinking can only be described as medieval.

The council endorsed a measure 7-4 Wednesday night that would open the door for future designated dog park areas, like the one that exists at Skyline Park on Butte’s east side, but the local law that bans all dogs in all other parks appears likely to stay in place for now, the Montana Standard reported today.

Commissioners recently approved an “emergency ordinance” allowing leashed dogs in Skyline.

But it hasn’t acted on a broader proposal to allow leashed dogs in all parks, on public trails and in open spaces.

Commissioner John Sorich moved that the council reject that proposal but leave open the possibility of having other designated dog areas.

“I too love dogs,” Sorich said. “I have a 10-week-old puppy I’m trying to train, but I don’t believe they belong in parks. I don’t have a problem with walking trails.”

Other commissioners backing the ban say many dogs are mean, and leave messes behind them.

“We spent a long time getting dogs out of parks in Butte-Silver Bow County, and a large majority (of people) don’t want to go back,” Commissioner Jim Fisher said. “I’m a messenger for the people, and they are telling me no dogs in parks.”

Ordinances ban dogs from all parks in the county, but not from public trails.

Commissioner Bill Andersen said dogs are an important part of many people’s lives and should be allowed in more parks.

“I like my dog better than most people,” he said.

Kelley Christensen, the county’s special events coordinator, also spoke in favor of the proposal to open parks up to dogs, saying many people have dogs and they should be welcome in more parks.

“We feel this is giving our community a way to walk out in nature with their pets,” she said.

Opening parks in the county to leashed dogs was part of a proposal put forth by Parks Director E. Jay Ellington. He said the ban and large “no dogs allowed” posted at parks signs sent an unwelcome message about Butte.

Ellington recently announced he was leaving Butte to take a parks job in Texas.

(Photo: Walter Hinick / Montana Standard)

Dog in Montana shot while in owner’s arms

jackson

A dog in Montana took a bullet intended for his owner — a bartender in Hamilton who had apparently offended a customer earlier in the night.

Joe Lewis, 29, who cuts wood and serves drinks at the Rainbow Bar for a living, returned home from work early Saturday and carried his pit bull, Jackson, outside. The dog had recently had a toe removed and was wearing a cast.

While he was holding the dog four shots rang out.

The first hit the dog in the head. The second hit Lewis in the ribs and exited his back. He was treated at a hospital and released. His pit bull died. Lewis’ brother, Mike, said the first bullet would likely have struck Lewis in the head had he not been carrying the dog.

According to The Missoulian, Lewis had an altercation with a customer earlier in the evening. The customer ordered a “red beer” and became angry because it contained Clamato juice (rather than the more traditional tomato juice), which he said was contrary to his religion, Judaism.

According to court records, the customer, who is also a neighbor of Lewis, told another neighbor that he was going to retaliate and kill Lewis.

Monte Hanson, 59, has been charged with attempted deliberate homicide and animal cruelty,

lewisandjacksonMike Lewis said his brother was recovering at home but was “pretty broken up about his dog …Anyone who knows him knows he’s not your average animal guy. He takes his animals very, very seriously.”

Lewis’ family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with expenses and buy another dog. By yesterday it had raised $3,200.

“Jackson was a purebred red-nose pit,” Mike Lewis said. “Those dogs are not easy to come by.”

(Photos courtesy of Lewis family)

Why you won’t be seeing the Kardashians on dog sleds this season

Kim-and-Khloe-Kardashian-5When a front woman for the Kardashians emailed the owner of a dog sled adventure company in Montana, asking him to arrange a half-day trip for Khloe, Kim and eight other cast members — all while being filmed by 20 or so crew members — he quoted a price.

It would be $390 per sledder, or $3,900 total, Jason Matthews, the owner of Bozeman-based Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures, told her in an email.

Ashley Warner, the production release coordinator for “Keeeping Up with the Kardashians,” emailed back, suggesting — rather than cash — “an exposure trade out.” The publicity Matthews’ company would receive being on the reality show was worth at least that much, she told him.

Matthews responded to her email saying, in effect, that kind of math didn’t fly in Montana, and requesting payment in advance.

The email exchange continued after that, with the Kardashian representative continuing to talk about a “trade” and explaining the value of “exposure” and Matthews — who has never seen the show — insisting on payment in the form of currency he was familiar with.

At one point, when his message seemed to not be getting through, he made a comment reflecting his own reality: “Look,” he wrote, ” my dogs don’t eat trade.”

The discussion continued until he was sent a confidentiality agreement. He declined to fill it out, saying “I’m not going to sign this until you agree to pay my rate.’”

Warner stopped emailing after that, and Matthews assumed the Kardashian sled ride was off.

On Sunday, Matthews heard the Kardashians had been in a car accident near Bozeman on Saturday. Their car slid off a road and into a ditch. No one was injured and no citations were issued. But it was still very dramatic, Khloe said the next day, when she was interviewed at the Oscars.

“We were in Montana, hit some black ice, car spun out of control, like a big rig got ice all over our car … It was really scary … but we’re all good, all safe, thank God.”

The Kardashians, while they didn’t get their dog sled adventure, did get some skiing in while visiting Montana.

Matthews, after learning of their misfortune — and that no one was injured —  got on Facebook and wrote a post titled “Montana Karmic Justice.” explaining his experience with the family’s representatives, LastBestNews.com reported.

In it, he said he didn’t feel the $3,900 fee he was going to charge was exorbitant, considering that — at least according to what he read on the Internet — the family is being paid $60 million this season. He said he was glad they never showed up.

His Facebook post was shared widely, bringing him and his company some major (you guessed it) exposure — all while steering clear of the Kardashians.

And you can’t put a price on that.

Roadside Encounters: Charlie

Name: Charlie

Breed: Saint Bernard

Age: 4

Encountered: At a rest area in western Montana, just a couple of miles before the Idaho state line.

Backstory: Charlie, a female with a sweet disposition, was headed back home to Seattle from a road trip to Wisconsin. She lumbered out of the car to meet Ace, but Ace was more interested in the treats her owner — a former Baltimore resident — had in her pocket. Ace and Charlie stared at each other, sniffed, and munched some more treats together before doing their business and climbing back into their respective cars and rolling through Idaho.

Portraits of Ace, in yellow

Before leaving Montana, I had to capture Ace amid all the yellow leaves that, on the trees and on the ground, were giving Missoula one last blast of vibrant color before winter sets in.

I’ve always thought he was an Autumn dog, the way his coat contains many of the season’s hues. Yellow, I think, looks pretty good on him. And vice versa.

Mission accomplished, we’ve moved on — headed for Idaho, Washington and then points south.

Expressing yourself, doggie style

As was the case with our kudzu dogs, this one requires just a squirt of imagination.

Ace and I were walking the streets of downtown Missoula when we saw a chocolate Labrador stopping to pee — well, not really stopping at all, which was the interesting part.

For almost half a block, he zig-zagged along the sidewalk, leaving a squiggly trail behind him.

Perhaps he, or his owner, had no time to stop — maybe the human had an urgent appointment, or maybe the dog had a weak bladder; or maybe, just maybe, the dog was expressing himself in the other meaning of the phrase.

Maybe he’d discovered a way around not being able to speak human — and it’s just a case of no one having discovered his amazing ability yet.

Sure, it doesn’t look like much now, but let’s see what happens when we turn it sideways.

Don’t bother moving your computer; allow me:

If I’m not mistaken, it spells Missoula, Montana.