Ye Olde Dog Shep

It must be mandatory that every farm has had a dog by the name of Shep. The long-haired, lovable creature most likely would have been a Collie, Shepherd, or mix of the two. If Shep was of another time, he would have been a helpful cow dog. He also had basic skills like retrieving sticks and dropping a drool-covered baseball at your feet. And of course, every farm kid thought Shep belonged to them alone.  

Emil and Gina had their version of Shep, and cousin David made fast friends with him as we can see in this 1935 photo.

Shep and David, 1935

 According to David, this Shep was not primarily a good pillow (my description), and he had at least one very useful skill: when Shep was commanded to “Go get the cows” for milking time, he would take off for a far pasture and bring the herd home. That was a real skill, because the cattle would need to be brought home at a comfortable gait and conducive for milking. If they had been chased hard or upset, the cows could be nervous and jumpy, slow to “let down” their milk. Shep must have been a dog to make Gina and Emil proud.

Growing up on a farm myself, I knew several incarnations of Shep, some quite ordinary, others more memorable. But the only Shep I personally knew who could also bring the cows home from over the hill was named Sparky. He was my maternal grandfather’s dog. As good as he was with the cows, however, thunder terrified him – and he’d hide under the front porch until the storm had passed.

Were there any other dogs – or pets – owned by Emil and Gina? Does anyone else remember this Shep or another? If there were others, my guess is that they had to have a genuine use – like cats that would really catch mice. After all, this was a working farm!

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3 Responses to Ye Olde Dog Shep

  1. Glenn Borreson says:

    This comment and question from cousin Ann (Gertrude): Does anyone remember my dog “Tiny”? Dad would bring Mom, Conrad and me, and my dog, and we’d stay all summer [on the farm]. Dad came a week before school started to take us home. My uncles, who were still at home on the farm, wanted us to leave Tiny with them because she was so good to bring the cows home at milking time. I wouldn’t leave her there.

  2. cmoart says:

    There also was a LARGE cat, all white, that they called “hvit mons” or close to that. “kvit” is norwegian for white. I was told the name ment white milk. Anyone remember the cat? conrad

    • Glenn Borreson says:

      I’m too young (!) to know that cat, Conrad, but I remember a Larkin Valley photo of my father Garven holding a very large white cat – in the early 1940s. I assume it was not the cat you remember, but perhaps like it. I don’t know how many cats we had that Dad called by the name “Mons” – several of them! I had no idea what the word meant or why Dad used it.

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