Shep lived for 6 years at The Great Northern Railway Station in Montana. The legend is that he first appeared at the station at the same time a casket was being loaded onto a train. After that fateful day Shep continued to return to the rail station and seemed to inspect each incoming train, leading the railway workers to believe that Shep was looking for his departed master. The workers began to take care of Shep until he was soon living at the station. Comfortable around the trains, affectionate and friendly he easily won admirers. Thanks to the railway workers who told his story to the many travelers who passed through the station Shep became famous and was featured in Ripley's Believe it Or Not. His story so impressed people that he began to receive fan mail and gifts as well as many visitors.
On January 12, 1942 Shep, already a middle aged to older dog when he first arrived at the station, was somewhat feeble and suffering from failing hearing when he was struck and killed by an oncoming train. His funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners. His obituary was carried in many news papers, even though the news was inundated with stories of the War. Shep was buried near the rail tracks and his name was spelled out in stones and illuminated at night. For years travelers saw the grave through the windows of every departing train, but eventually the route changed and the grave fell into disrepair.
In 1994 a large bronze statue of Shep was erected at the station. Today visitors continue to bring Shep flowers.
There is no doubt that like all American heroes Shep's story has been embellished and taken on some mythic elements. Some versions describe Shep waiting at the hospital where his master was ill, for days before the man's death. Others speak of him simply arriving at the station with the casket. Stories diverge on the degree of Shep's loyalty and overall personality. Some describe him as being in constant mourning for his lost master. Some individuals who actually new Shep during his life time however, describe him as playful and happy dog who enjoyed his life at the station, and basked in the attention of his many admirers. No matter how much we love the idea of canine loyalty, I prefer to think of Shep as a happy old dog enjoying his golden years at the railway station.