Dog Saves the Day on North Dakota Homestead
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!
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