Bobbie the Wonder Dog
|Resting place||Oregon Humane Society|
|Known for||Traveling over 2,500 miles across the United States[A]|
Bobbie the Wonder Dog (1921–1927) was a dog who covered 2,551 miles (4,105 km) on his own to return home to Silverton, Oregon after he was lost while his owners were visiting family in Wolcott, Indiana. Ripley's estimated the journey may have been as long as 3,000 miles (4,800 km).
In August 1923, while on a family road trip in Indiana, Frank and Elizabeth Brazier, with their daughters Leona and Nova, were visiting relatives in Wolcott, Indiana. Their two-year-old Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix dog Bobbie was attacked by three other dogs and ran away. After an exhaustive search, the heartbroken Brazier family were unable to find Bobbie and continued their trip before returning home to Oregon, expecting never to see their dog again.
In February 1924, six months later, Bobbie returned to Silverton mangy, dirty, and scrawny, with his toenails worn down to nothing. He showed all the signs of having walked the entire distance, including swimming rivers and crossing the Continental Divide during the coldest part of winter.
During his ordeal, he crossed at least 2,551 miles (4,105 km) of plains, desert, and mountains in the winter to return home, an average of approximately 14 miles (23 km) per day. After his return to Silverton, he experienced a meteoric rise to fame. His story drew national attention and was featured in numerous newspapers.
He was the subject of newspaper articles including Ripley's Believe It or Not!, books, and film. Bobbie played himself in the 1924 silent film The Call of the West. He received hundreds of letters from people around the world and was honored with a jewel-studded harness and collar, ribbons, and keys to cities.
People who had fed and sheltered Bobbie on his journey wrote the family to tell about their time with Bobbie. The Humane Society of Portland was able to use these stories to assemble a relatively precise description of the route Bobbie took.
The humane society concluded that after returning to Wolcott and unable to find his owners, Bobbie initially followed their further travels into northeast Indiana. He then struck out in several directions, apparently seeking their scent. He eventually headed west.
During their original trip, the Braziers had parked their car in a service station each night. Their dog visited each of these stops on his journey, along with a number of homes, and a hobo camp.
In Portland, an Irish woman took care of him for a period of time, helping him recover from serious injuries to his legs and paws.
Death and legacy
Upon his death in 1927, he was buried with honors at the Oregon Humane Society's pet cemetery in Portland. A week later, German Shepherd film star Rin Tin Tin laid a wreath at his grave. His grave is sheltered by a "fancy white and red dog house" received during a promotional appearance at the Portland Home Show. The gravestone has been moved outside the house for better viewing.
Bobbie's demonstration of loyalty is celebrated during Silverton's annual children's pet parade that serves as a reminder of the special place animals and pets have in people's lives. The event was started several years after Bobbie's death and the first parade was led by his son, Pal. A 70-foot-long (21 m) outdoor painting featuring Bobbie's story is part of a series of murals that decorate the walls of businesses in Silverton.
In late 2012, responding to public sentiment that his burial location in Portland did not properly honor his story and his connection to his hometown, a grassroots movement was started by a group of Silvertonians with the goal of repatriating Bobbie's remains to Silverton, for reburial and memorialization.
- Based on odometer reading. Ripley's estimated he may have traveled as much as 2,800 miles (4,500 km). "Silverton Bobbie". Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- Brazier, G. F. (1924). Wager-Smith, Curtis, ed. "Bobbie - The Wonder Dog of Oregon". Animal Pals. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Macrae Smith Company. City of Silverton, Oregon. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- "Bobbie, the Prodigal Dog" (photo array/cartoon). Ripley's Believe it or Not. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- Stelljes, Susan. "Bobbie the Wonder Dog". The Oregon Encyclopedia.
- John, Finn J.D. “Wonder Dog’s” 2,500-mile odyssey put Silverton on the map January 2, 2011 offbeatoregon.com
- "Bobbie the Wonder Dog in The Call of the West". The Register-Guard. July 11, 1924. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- "Grave of Bobbie the Wonder Dog Portland". Roadside America. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
- Hauser, Susan (May 2010). "Oregon Day Trip: Silverton". Sunset. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
- Richard, Terry (March 21, 2008). "Silverton wears its history on its walls". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- Bring Bobbie Home
- Alexander, Charles D. (1966) . Bobbie, a Great Collie. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. OCLC 1417264.
- Kent, Judith (2004). Silverton's Bobbie: His Amazing Journey—The True Story. Woodburn, Oregon: Beautiful America Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-89802-770-9.
- Stelljes, Susan (2005). Wonder Dog: The Story of Silverton Bobbie in His Own Words. Portland, Oregon: For the Love of Dog Books. ISBN 978-0-9761124-7-1.
- Call of the West Featuring the Wonder Dog Bobbie (Video). Oregon Historical Society.
- Detail of Silverton Bobbie mural from Susan Stelljes