Friday, June 02, 2006

A Boy and his Dog

On our way to work yesterday, Russell saw a dog lying under a tree in a cemetery just adjacent to campus. One of my fellow co-workers also saw it and sent an email out to several known dog-lovers on campus. I went with her at lunch to try and catch the dog. We had no luck, and met again after work. Once again we were unable to find the dog. We left food and water for it and made plans to resume looking the next day and then parted ways. I drove through the cemetery. I stopped and visited my Father's grave and then visited a memorial that is legendary in Dayton. It's of a boy and his dog. I've visited it before, however, for the first time it occurred to me that the dog might be a newfoundland!

In 1860 there was a boy, Johnny Morehouse, the youngest son of John and Mory, who lived with them in the back of his father’s shoe repair shop. One day the five-year-old was playing near his home by the edge of the Miami & Erie Canal (which used to run along the present Patterson Blvd. in downtown Dayton near the library).
The boy accidentally fell into the canal water. His dog, playing by him, jumped into the water and tried to save him. He pulled the boy out, but not in time to save his life. The boy drowned and was buried in Woodland Cemetery.

Legend has it that, several days after the burial, the dog appeared next to the boy’s grave staying by it morning, noon, and night. Visitors to the cemetery saw him and began to worry about his health. Some began leaving him bits of food. Passersby still bring small toys and other trinkets to decorate the grave marker to express their spontaneous outpourings of sympathy. Some visitors put money there. A lady who walks the cemetery every day collects the money and buys something for the grave often. As you can see on his grave marker, he already has toys to play with – his harmonica, his top, his cap, his ball. There are several reports that Johnny and his dog have been seen walking through the cememtery at night. Reputed experts in the paranormal field have confirmed this.
I felt a bit silly, but I left a biscuit on the base of the statue. I think the dog looks sort of like a Newf.... specially from that era. Johnny's story reminds me of another great dog story, which, as it turns out, is from the same era. It's the story of
Greyfriar's Bobby

In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard. His grave levelled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; but, although no human interest seemed to attach to it.
The sacred spot was not wholly disregarded or forgotten. For fourteen years the dead man's faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872. The famous Skye Terrier, Greyfriars Bobby was so devoted to his master John Gray, even in death, for fourteen years Bobby lay on the grave only leaving for food.

It is reported that a daily occurance of people from all walks of life would stand at the entrance of the Kirkyard waiting for the one o'clock gun and the appearance of Bobby leaving the grave for his midday meal.

As for the stray dog:

We haven't gotten him yet. The good news is that of all places for a dog to be lost, a cemetery is pretty safe. There's plenty of shelter and water. We've left food for him. My friend Diane actually had her hands on him twice yesterday... he ate biscuits out of her hand, and dog chow (only thing we could find at the local convenience store). He's hanging out near a large pond, and is pretty savvy about hiding under thick brush, so he's got shelter and shade. Diane met a couple of women walking... one walks the cemetery daily, and is a dog lover. She's got the animal shelter's # programmed into her phone. She's also going to try and get him. The shelter knows that Diane will be happy to foster him, so if we can just get him, he'll get the care he needs. He's limping a bit, and is scared. We thought he was a puppy, but after getting a better look at him last night, he's older. He has a collar, but no tags.

Diane hopes that by going back alot and leaving food that he'll grow to trust her and get in her car. We're not going to chase him anymore... because the worst thing that could happen is if he'd leave the cemetery grounds.

I've called the cemetery office and asked them to call us if one of the workers does catch him. The workers have been very nice about helping us.

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