Odd, Old News: Sheepdog, Sam, Saved a Lamb, Lassie Style, South of Kneeland in 1921
Man’s best friend and loyal companion, Canis lupus familiaris, is once again the subject of this week’s Odd, Old News. Sam was a young sheepdog in the Iaqua area [near Kneeland] whose remarkable intelligence and concern for his flock led to the rescue of a lost little lamb in a storyline straight out of an old Lassie TV episode.
Every sheep ranch had its dogs for herding and protection back in the day. Coyote populations in Humboldt County were large, and in the 1880’s sheep ranchers would pay $10 to $25 dollars for a coyote killed, a considerable sum at the time. From break of day to sunrise, and from dusk to dark were when coyotes were most active, often predating on the best in a flock, fat yearlings and lambs.
Due to the heroic efforts of one young sheep dog, one little lamb’s life was spared from a sad ending.
IAQUA DOG GUARDS SHEEP NIGHT & DAY, SAVES TINY LAMB HELD IN UNDERBRUSH
Humboldt Standard, September 27, 1921
Up in the mountains in the Iaqua section lives Sam—just a common Shepherd dog, or rather a puppy as he is only ten months old, but with the intelligence of a very much older dog.
When quite tiny Sam became the property of H.H. Slater, who owns acres about a thousand acres of mountains, these Sam later came to have charge of. Does it seem strange for one small puppy dog to have such a great deal of territory to roam about on & have for a playground? Not at all, for on these lands thousands of sheep are pastured.
Sam is their guardian & is just as much attached to his flock & looks out for their safety just as mothers do for their children. As soon as he was old enough, he was placed among the sheep by his master & as the days went on, he gradually grew to learn his duty was to watch over the sheep & guard them from the many coyotes that draw near once night fall, eagerly waiting to seize the opportunity of feasting on a little tiny lamb. Sam’s food is always brought to him in the field & with one exception never has he visited the farm house, —he stands his post both day & night.
Several weeks ago, Sam did come to his master’s home, one afternoon, & could not be driven away. He was told to return & even led part way back but to no avail. He would not go. He didn’t appear ill, as there seemed something about the look in his eyes & the wag in his tail that he was trying to tell something. Finally Slater thought that after several un-successful efforts of trying to have him return voluntarily he would accompany him back to the sheep that were grazing about a mile away.
Sam seemed joyful & began to jump up & down, barking incessantly & more so when they arrived at a fence, bordering a growth of dense underbrush. Leaping over this, his bark became louder as if calling for help. Having a suspicion Sam was probably in danger, Slater neared the fence upon his arrival found not ony Sam, but a very young lamb which had become separated from the flock & caught in the underbrush.
During the whole time of this Shepherd dog’s constant watch, not one sheep has been killed by coyotes, while it is a common occurrence in the neighboring flocks.
Praises fell galore on Sam’s silky head, who realizing his master’s appreciativeness, was unable to make any response aside from vigorous vibrations of his tail. This is only one of several incidents, that has made Sam one of the treasures of the Slater household, & ”not for anything” would his master change him. —Maybe Sam knows it.
Earlier Odd and Old News:
There are many more, but here are the most recent:
- Dinner Was Served and Astor Won his Wager
- Old Jack to the Rescue in Briceland
- “Bible” Studies at the Buhne Building in Eureka
- Justice for Garberville Cowboys in 1892
- Odd, Old News: ‘Escapade in Man’s Garb’ Leads to Arrest… and Marriage