3/26/16

Bobbie the Wonder Dog: Walks 2,500 Miles



Bobbie was a determined dog who became famous in history after walking thousands of miles to get back home.


Bobbie & Frank Brazier

In the summer of 1923, Frank and Elizabeth Brazier left their home in Silverton, Oregon to visit their old home town in Indiana. Bobbie, their two year old Scotch collie mix, accompanied them on the trip. They headed east in their Overland Red Bird touring car, with Bobbie staying in the back on top of the luggage or on the car's running board.


Bobbie on his owner's car in Silverton

During the first stop in Indiana, three dogs jumped Bobbie and chased him away while Frank was filling the car with gas. Frank and Elizabeth were not worried at the time, thinking Bobbie could take care of himself and would show up later at the house they were staying. When he didn't show up, they started searching for him, and even advertised their missing dog in the local newspaper. The Braziers eventually headed to their old home town, leaving instructions to hang onto Bobbie if he reappeared and they will pick him up on their way back to Oregon. When they headed back, their beloved dog had not been found. The Braziers, brokenhearted, continued on their way home. They left instructions to send Bobbie home on a rail car if he should turn up.

Six months later, Elizabeth's daughter from a previous marriage, Nova Baumgarten, spotted Bobbie walking down a street in Silverton. He was scrawny, his coat was matted, and his toenails were worn down to nothing. Nova brought Bobbie to the restaurant the Braziers owned for a joyful reunion. Bobbie became an overnight sensation, and within a week the story of his long journey was making national headlines.

People who took Bobbie in for a night or two on his way home wrote in to tell their stories - they were able to identify him by several distinguishing marks. These stories helped the Humane Society of Portland to piece together a surprisingly precise account of the route Bobbie took. He traveled more than 2,500 miles of plains, desert and mountains, averaging 14 miles per day, during some cold winter months.

Correspondence from around the world poured in addressed to "Bobbie the Wonder Dog". Bobbie received medals, keys to cities, and a jewel-studded harness and collar. He was honored as the star of the Home Beautifying Exposition in Portland where over 40,000 people came to view him, and was given his own dog-sized bungalow. His story was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not and a book titled Bobbie, a Great Collie by Charles Alexander. He was also featured in a silent film called The Call of the West, with Bobbie playing his part.

In 1927, only six years old, Bobbie became sick and passed away. Some doctors suggested it was the strain of his journey catching up with him. He was buried with honors at the animal cemetery of the Oregon Humane Society in Portland. Hundreds of people attended his funeral, and the city's mayor delivered the eulogy. The famous Hollywood dog star Rin Tin Tin laid a wreath at his grave.