Bobbie the Wonder Dog
Written by Tricia Brown, illustrated by Cary Porter
The story of Bobbie, who hailed from Silverton, Oregon in the ‘20s, has been told and retold countless times. In family homes, newspapers, books and more.
While the story is true, it only feels right to begin: Once upon a time . . .
There was a puppy named Bobbie, who at six weeks of age was selected by Frank and Elizabeth Brazier of Silverton to become part of their family and working farm. The Scotch Collie with the bobbed tail (hence his name), was a natural “heeler,” herding cows, horses, and even cats and people.
In his first months of life he was “hurt on the job”— first by a horse who didn’t appreciate Bobbie’s efforts, and then by a tractor, which accidentally ran over his leg. As was his nature, he healed quickly and returned to work straightaway.
In time the family decided to sell the farm and open a restaurant in town. They sold Bobbie to the new owners, thinking Bobbie would be happiest remaining on the farm. They learned differently though, when Bobbie showed up at the restaurant soon after.
At first agreeing to an arrangement where Bobbie spent weekdays at the farm and weekends in town, Bobbie soon made it known that he preferred his original family. They bought him back — for three times what they’d sold him for.
In August 1923, the family embarked on a cross-country vacation to visit family. Not wanting to reveal all here, suffice it to say that while Frank refueled in Indiana, Bobbie was chased by a pack of wild dogs. The family looked and lingered, placed an ad in the paper, but eventually had to return home without their beloved pet.
The family was heartbroken, but picked up their lives, as people must. Then, on February 15, exactly six months after becoming lost, Bobbie limped into downtown Silverton, to the shock, amazement and immeasurable joy of his family.
The story spread, in town, throughout Oregon, and finally across the country. Letters to the family arrived, piecing together Bobbie’s incredible journey. Letter writers talked of trying to keep him, many saying he would accept a meal or a night’s stay, but would always move on.
The recurring line in this sweetly written and illustrated book will always ring true: Bobbie was unstoppable.
Bobbie the Wonder Dog — recommended for readers 4-8 years but a joy for readers of any age — is available wherever books are sold (Alaska Northwest Books, Graphic Arts Books, Westwinds Press). The book launched at the annual Silverton Oregon “Bobbie” Pet Parade in May.
Kristan Dael is a freelance writer and the alter ego of Jennifer Mccammon. She lives in Portland with her 4-pack, and strives to produce articles that inform, edify, engage and entertain.