Dog Saves the Day on North Dakota Homestead

Thanks to a cattle dog on a North Dakota homestead, the local population's crops and homesteads were saved from a stampede of cattle.

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In 1904 I left Iowa and went to North Dakota to take a North Dakota homestead, hoping to teach school while I lived on my land. I built a shack there, and I did find a school only two miles away.

South of my place was a long, low range of hills covered with thick, thorny bushes. The hills were almost impassable except at an occasional gap, one of which was about a quarter mile from my place. On our side of the ridge, we raised wheat; on the other side were miles of good grazing land. Cattlemen brought in hundreds of cattle from the plains of Texas and turned them out to graze there. If the cattle ever found the gap and came into our valley, we homesteaders were lost.

One evening as I rode to my shed barn, I heard a low bellowing which could only be cattle. Quickly I pulled my horse from the buggy shafts, unharnessed him and strapped on a blanket. With Shep, a neighbor's good cattle dog, I rode wildly toward the gap. Standing on a little elevation there I saw hundreds of cattle approaching at a fast walk. At the head of the column was a mammoth bull with long horns. The bull saw Shep and me, threw up his head, stopped and pawed dirt clear over his back. With my wildest yell, I called Shep and set him on the bull. The dog knew his cattle and went for the bull's heels. Suddenly the bull started running, followed by the thundering herd. All I did was sit on my horse in the gap and shout encouragement to Shep. I stayed there until the last animal had passed the gap. Then with Shep I cantered home.

Had the cattle found the gap and turned into our valley, we homesteaders would have been destroyed. Our flimsy buildings and wheat crops would not have withstood one onslaught. Thanks to a wonderful dog, we were saved!

Jane Elmore
Denver, Colorado