Ritchie Dog Exhibits Strange Behavior in 1897


Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 6/27/1897.

Strange Freaks of a Dog

Constant Watchfulness of a Lonely Spot in the Woods

Was His Missing Master Murdered and Concealed There?

Your Correspondent Visited the Place

Special to the Chronicle

Much exciting inquiry has been occasioned, of late, by the incidental discovery of a strange dog in a deeply wooded dell, down by the run, north from King Knob, in Ritchie County, W.Va.

Some two or three weeks ago, a gentleman well known in that locality had occasion to visit this isolated spot, and ran upon a well worn path about a foot wide and supposing it to be a path made by some wild animal burrowing near by, he undertook to follow the path, hoping to trace the creature to its lair.  He had not proceeded far until he discovered lying in the path, just before him, a large dog, somewhat resembling a shepherd.

The dog upon being approached uttered, in fierce growls, his emphatic protest against any intrusion upon his seclusion, and manifested a decided indisposition to yield possession.  The hostile attitude of the brute so frightened the gentlemen that he ran from the scene to the home of Mr. John Snider near Indian creek; told his story and insisted upon some one accompanying him to the place.  Accordingly, Joseph Snider, son of John Snider, went with him, and together they found his dogship true to discription; but instead of the animal contesting right of possession as before, he soon disappeared as if by magic.

This strange disappearance of the dog was very puzzling to the gentlemen, who at once turned their attention to an investigation of their immediate surroundings, and found that the dog had made a well defined path in a semi-circle, enclosing about a quarter of an acre of ground; the condition of the path indicating that for many months the poor creature had walked round and round until he had worn steps in the ground on the hillside to a depth of from two to four inches.  These steps are eight to twelve inches apart.  This pathway, forming, as it does, an almost complete semi-circle, follows the run going down N., N. W., and extends to the first bench on E. side, and it plainly indicates that the dog has walked in this ring from left to right for many months.  Only a part of this path is now visible, for the greater part of it is now worn away by human feet, the locality being visited by many persons every day in the week, curious to ascertain, if possible, the promptings that have led the dog to guard this locality with such constant watchfulness.

There are several theories regarding the matter.  We will mention the first and most generally accepted one here:  A certain man, a resident of Ritchie county is said to have sold some horses at or near Grantsville and on his way back can be traced to Smithville and beyond to the neighborhood of King Knob, and the report is that he has not been seen or heard of since;  (This was soon after the Grantsville fair,) and the supposition is that he was killed and hidden away in this dark and wooded dell, and that this dog, the one he had with him at the time of his disappearance, is here guarding his untimely resting place.

Other theories are extant and your correspondent will make another trip to the place and report if anything of interest or suggestive of foul play is ascertained.