In Thursday's paper we'll have a review of Susan Orlean's new book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. While reading about Rinty's 1927 promotional tour, I ran across this paragraph:
In Portland, Oregon, he was welcomed as a 'distinguished canine visitor' and met at the train station by the city's school superintendent, the chief of police, and the head of the local Human Society; then he made a statesmanlike pilgrimage to the grave of Bobby the Oregon Wonder Dog, a local legend who was said to have walked from Indiana to Oregon to reconnect with his owners. During the ceremony, according to news reports, "Rin Tin Tin with his own teeth placed the flowers on Bobby's grave and then in a moment's silence laid his head on the cross marking the resting place of the dog who gave his life to give the world another stirring example of a dog's devotion and faithfulness to his master."
Despite having grown up in Oregon and seen both versions of The Incredible Journey approximately 800 times, I wasn't familiar with "Bobby the Oregon Wonder Dog," though apparently he inspired Silverton's annual Pet Parade. From Wikipedia:
Bobbie the Wonder Dog (1921—1927) was a dog from the U.S. state of Oregon who became famous for traveling 2,800 miles to return to his owners in the city of Silverton. He is sometimes referred to as Silverton Bobbie.
In 1923, while on a family road trip in Indiana, Bobbie—a two-year old Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix—was separated from his owners and lost. After an exhaustive search the broken-hearted family returned to their home in Oregon never expecting to see their beloved dog again. Six months later, Bobbie appeared on their doorstep mangy and scrawny with feet worn to the bone; he showed all the signs of having walked the entire way back alone
During his ordeal he crossed 2,800 miles of plain, desert and mountains in the dead of winter to return home. After his return to Silverton, he experienced a meteoric rise to fame. He was the subject of newspaper articles including Ripley's Believe It or Not!, books and film. 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.
And! You can read Bobby's owner's account of his dog's journey right over here. It's kind of great:
If you were a young lad and became separated from your friends in a strange land, 2500 miles from home, where you could only make yourself understood by signs, do you suppose you could manage to travel—most of the way on Foot-back to your own fireside? And what if you were a dog?
This is the story of Bobbie, the "wonder dog of Oregon," as he has been fitly called, after the most extraordinary achievement of intelligence, persistency and loyalty ever recorded to the glory of dogdom and to the confusion of those stupid people who still say that a dog is only a dog, chiefly interested in bones.
Susan Orlean will be screening Rin Tin Tin's silent film Clash of the Wolves at the Hollywood on Thursday, followed by a Q&A and booksigning. I'm actually really interested to see the movie: According to Orlean, Rin Tin Tin received the most votes for Best Actor at the first Academy awards, but "members of the Academy, anxious to establish the new awards as serious and important, decided that giving an Oscar to a dog did not serve that end...." Apparently the dog was quite the actor. Details here.
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