Sunday marks the anniversary of the passing of an interesting historical hound, this one from Australia.... Bob the rail way dog.
Like many of histories greatest characters, Bob's origins are somewhat mysterious. The generally excepted story is that he was a stray who was adopted along with some other dogs in an attempt to deal with a surplus rabbit population problem. Eventually, Bob was taken in by a man named William Ferry who worked for the railroads and who introduced him to train travel.
Bob enjoyed trains so much that when Ferry was promoted to station manager he continued to let his dog ride the rails. Bob basically became a stray who belonged to no one, but was at the same time the pet of all the railway workers in Australia. He loved long distance trips and traveled through all the states of Australia. Bob liked to have a nearly empty train compartment to ride in so he could stretch out comfortably. He would bark at the passengers until they cleared out a section for him. What is most remarkable about this is that the train workers rather then disciplining the dog would encourage the human travelers to make room for him. Although he was a friendly dog, Bob's vigorous bark lead some people to fear him. However, for every person who feared him another was completely won over but his boisterous and adventurous spirit.
As Bob's travels increased so did his fame. He was an honored guest at the opening of one rail station. And was the subject of this poem (author unknown)
|Home-keeping dogs have homely wits,
Their notions tame and poor;
I scorn the dog who humbly sits
Before the cottage door,
Or those who weary vigils keep,
Or follow lovely kine;
A dreary life midst stupid sheep
Shall ne'er be lot of mine.
For free from thrall I travel far,
No fixed abode I own;
I leap aboard a railway car;
By every one I' know;
Today I am here, tomorrow brings
Me miles and miles away;
Borne swiftly on steams rushing wings,
I see fresh friends each day.
Each Driver from the footplate hales
My coming with delight;
I gain from all upon the rails;
A welcome ever bright;
I share the perils of the line
with mates from end to end,
Who would not for a silver mine
Have harm befall their friend
Let other dogs snarl and fight,
And round the city prowl,
Or render hideous the night
With unmelodious howl.
I have a cheery bark for all,
No ties my travels clog;
I hear the whistle, that's the call
For Bob, the driver's dog.
A true adventurer, Bob embodied the independent Australian spirit. He was not afraid of risk and sustained several injuries while jumping trains. He lost an inch of his tail in one accident, hurt his leg several times while falling of cars, and once his coat caught fire. Despite all of these accidents he lived to the advanced age of 17. When he passed away on July 29, 1895 his death was mentioned in papers as far away as England, where he was called the "King of Outcasts."
Bob's collar is displayed at the National Railway Museum in Australia,
the inscription reads:
Stop me not, but let me jog, For I am Bob, the drivers dog
A statue of Bob stands in Peterborough Australia.
Here is our tribute to Railway Bob-a picture we took a few years ago in front of an abandoned train in Liberty State Park.
Have plenty of adventures this weekend, just like Bob!