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Man’s Best Friend – The Story of Montana’s ‘Shep the Dog’

For anyone who has ever been to Fort Benton, you may have noticed a big dog on the horizon. That is the “Shep the Dog” memorial. And, “Shep” may be the most famous dog in Montana’s history.

The story goes:

Back in August of 1936, during the Great Depression, the body of an unknown sheep herder was brought to the Fort Benton train station. The coffin was being shipped back east to be buried with the man’s family. A lone dog followed the coffin to the train station. After the coffin was loaded and sent east, the dog remained. The loyal dog made a home under the train station, and waited for 5 1/2 years for his owner to return on the train.

Named “Shep” by the railroad workers, the dog greeted passengers from every train that stopped in Fort Benton. Up to 4 trains a day. “Word quickly spread of this dog’s loyalty and his vigil waiting for his owner to return. It was even highlighted in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.”

Eventually, as all dogs do, “Shep” got old. Being arthritic, blind and deaf. In January of 1942, “Shep” didn’t see or hear a train coming into the station, and was hit. Hundreds of people came to the funeral. His coffin was even escorted to his final resting place by Fort Benton Boy Scouts.

Year’s later, Great Northern Railway erected the memorial for “Shep.” Featuring a larger than life drawing and a obelisk. To this day, people make the trip to Fort Benton to visit “Shep’s” grave. A true testament to a dog’s loyalty.

See the coverage of “Shep the Dog” from Dateline NBC

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