Remarkable Devotion of Shepherds’ Dogs after Indian Attacks
There is a reason dogs through the ages have been called “man’s best friend.” Anyone who has ever had a close relationship with dogs knows of their faithful allegiance. No matter what kind of day I’d had, I was always guaranteed a spot of gladness when I opened the door and was met by my Black Labrador’s frenzied, joyful dance of greeting.
The following story, describing the devotion of two shepherds’ dogs after their masters were killed during an Indian raid in Boerne, Texas, on Jan. 17, 1862, is a moving example of the dogs’ loyalty.
This article was published by the Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia) on Feb. 13, 1862:
The Indians in Western Texas are getting bolder than usual. On the 17th ult., ten of them visited Boerne, in Blanco county, and killed five persons whose bodies were found. Two or three others were missing, and it is supposed that they shared the same fate. Two of Mr. G. W. Kendall’s shepherds were killed, two escaped and one was missing.
These murders occurred within a settlement that has not been subject to the Indian forays.
Mr. Kendall, in a letter to the San Antonio Herald, gives a very interesting account of the calamity. The following extracts will show how faithful the shepherds’ dogs are to their masters:
At an early hour on Saturday morning—the weather still dark, damp and foggy—Putnam came in with my old head shepherd, Tait. Going to the spot where the former had first seen the Indians, the body of the poor boy Fechler was found, stripped naked, pierced by some seventeen arrows, and his head doubled under him and resting against a tree. His scalp had not been taken, nor his person mutilated save by his many wounds; yet the dreadful spectacle called up mingled feelings of deep pity for the unfortunate lad, boiling indignation against his brutal murderers, and deep rooted disgust at the majority of our rulers who have never bestowed a second thought upon frontier protection. Poor John’s dog, which had been lying by his lifeless body through the long watches of a mid-winter night, gave the first notice of his whereabouts by her barking.
From the clearness of his wounds, faithful Fanny—for that is the slut’s name—had evidently been licking away the blood as it flowed, in a vain attempt to revive or resuscitate her unconscious master. How joyously she would have wagged her tail had he risen to give her one single pat of recognition, I can understand, for I know the dogs and their ways. When we came away, after covering the corpse as well as we could, Fanny still clang by; and when we left she refused all entreaties to call her away; we started off while she was still keeping watch and ward over her master, determined to protect his remains against any birds or beasts of prey that might dare approach. Would that she had had the strength to protect him against his ruthless murderers—she did not lack the will nor the courage, Fanny did not.
Of the search for the body of another shepherd, named Baptiste, the following is related:
Coming back to the starting point, a closer search along either bank of the ravine was made, and finally the dog was seen or heard near a point not previously examined. Here, lying partially in the water, the body of the poor shepherd was found, four arrows still sticking in his back, and with a frightful gash in his throat! Pink, his faithful dog, had remained by him for nearly twenty-four hours, and had proved an unerring guide board to the corpse of his master. The body had not been stripped, nor were the pockets rifled; his belt and knife sheath were still there, but the knife was missing. It was thought by men of the party that Baptiste might have cut his own throat, after finding himself mortally wounded. He had a rifle with him, and was a good shot, but whether he had discharged it or not we can never know. The dampness of the day may have prevented a cap from exploding, or he may have been fallen upon so suddenly that he had no time to turn upon his dastardly foes. Melancholy—most melancholy—was it to see his poor dog watching our movements as we dug a grave by the bank of the ravine, and buried his master out of sight. Nor would he even then leave the spot without great reluctance, and more than ordinary coaxing.
Our next sad duty was to bury the lad Fechler. At the spot where he was killed the ground was hard and stony; the sun, which had come out bright in the afternoon, was now fast sinking; we therefore hurriedly dug a grave near an elm thicket close by, placed him sorrowfully in his temporary resting place (for I intended to have all the bodies interred on a pleasant hill near the road), and covered him with fresh earth. Fanny, watching and following us as we brought the body down, nestled upon the new made grave as we left, as though she had taken a life-lease of the spot, and it was harrowing to see her mournful looks as we left. Nor was it again without much entreaty we could call her away.
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