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.
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!