Bingo, the Story of My Dog
It was early in November and the Canadian winter was already here. I sat in my chair, just after breakfast, and looked through the one window of our shanty, from which I could see the prairie and the end of our cowshed. Suddenly a large gray animal dashed across the prairie into the cowshed, and a smaller black and white animal ran after it.
"A wolf!" I cried, and seizing a gun, ran out to help the dog. But before I could get there, they were out of the cowshed and on the prairie again. The wolf turned to attack (lie dog, and the dog, our neighbour's collie, ran about, trying to bite the wolf. I fired a few shots, which did not hit the wolf, and both animals dashed off across the prairie again. Again the wolf turned, ready to fight. The dog seized the wolf by the leg, but retreated to avoid the wolf's teeth. This scene was repealed many times. The dog each time tried to get nearer to his master's house, while the wolf did all he could to run away toward the wood. I followed, and at last overtook them. The dog, now seeing that he had help, seized the wolf by the throat, and did not let go. It was now easy for me to come near them and shoot the wolf in the head.
When the dog saw that his enemy was dead, he at once set out for his master's house four miles across the snow. As he ran, he left a trail of blood on the snow from his many wounds, but he did not stop. I learned about this wonderful dog from his master, and wanted to buy him at any price, but the reply of his owner was: "Why don't you try to buy one of the children?" So I could do nothing. But he told me to wait until there was a puppy, the collie's son, and I had to be satisfied with that.
I looked at my new puppy, — a ball of black fur with a very white ring round his muzzle. I named him Bingo, the name of a dog in an old English story.
The rest of that winter Bingo spent in our shanty, eating much and growing bigger each day. When the spring came, I began his education. He learned to go and look for our old yellow cow that pastured on the prairie, and to drive her back to the cowshed safely.
He became very fond of doing this, and nothing pleased him more than an order to go and fetch the cow. He would dash away, barking with pleasure. In a short time he would return, driving the cow before him. And he gave her no peace until she was safe in a corner of the stable.
Soon he grew so fond of doing this that he began to bring the cow home even without an order. At last not once or twice, but a dozen times a day he went out and drove the cow home to the stable. It seemed that whenever he wanted a little exercise or had some free time, he dashed out across the prairie and a few minutes later returned, driving the unhappy cow before him. The cow grew thin and gave less milk. She watched nervously for that dog, whom she hated, and was afraid to go out to pasture.
This was too much, and I had to force Bingo to give up his pleasure altogether. He could not understand it at all and, in disgust, now stayed all day with the horses, near their stable. The cattle belonged to me, and the horses, to my brother, and though I did not see my dog often now, yet both of us felt that the bond between man and dog is one that lasts as long as life.
Not long after that Bingo acted as cowherd again, but that was the last time. In autumn of the same year there was a prize at the Annual Animal Fair for the best dog in training. I entered Bingo. Early on the day of the Fair I drove the cow to the prairie. When the time came, I pointed to the cow and gave Bingo the order, — "Go and fetch the cow." Of course, I thought he would bring her to me at the judge's stand. But when my cow saw Bingo running toward her, she knew that her only hope for safety was to get into her stable, and Bingo was sure that it was his duty to drive her in that direction as quickly as possible. They dashed across the prairie toward their home two miles away until they disappeared in the distance. I did not receive the prize.
It is beautiful and wonderful how a man and his dog become attached to one another. A Canadian writer tells us about an Indian tribe, in the Far North, which had a terrible feud over a dog that belonged to one of the Indians and was killed by his neighbour. The feud lasted many years and half of the tribe perished.
Here is another example. One of my neighbours had a dog which he thought was the best in the world. I loved my neighbour, so I loved his dog. One day poor Tan, the dog, crawled home terribly wounded and died near the door of his master's house. His master and I swore to find the murderer. We even offered a reward to any one who could find the murderer.
Then something happened that made me change my mind. Bingo did not live with me now. He lived now with a neighbour of mine, Gordon Wright, who had a farm a short distance from us. One day I went to see him. His son, knowing that I wanted to find the murderer, took me aside and whispered, in a tragic voice: "It was Bingo who did it."
My love for Bingo returned, and I must say that I did everything I could now not to find the murderer.
"Love me, love my dog," is an old and true saying. Although Bingo did not live with me the feeling that he was my dog did not die. Soon Bingo took part in another incident that illustrates the old saying.
Old Mr. Gordon and Mr. Oliver were close neighbours and friends. They made a contract to cut wood, and they worked together all winter cutting wood. Then Oliver's old horse died, and he decided that he could use the dead horse to catch wolves with. So he dragged the body out on the prairie and put some poison baits for wolves around it.
Alas! Bingo, like his wild relations the wolves, was very fond of dead horse meat. That night, with Oliver's dog Curley, he went to the dead body of the horse. Curley feasted, but Bingo kept off the wolves and ate less. The tracks in the snow told the story of the feast. Soon after he ate the poison baits, Curley was in terrible pains. Both dogs returned home, where Curley, in great agony, died at Oliver's feet.
Oliver refused to listen to any explanation that it was an accident. The contract to cut w7ood that Gordon and Oliver made was over, and to this day the two men are enemies.
As to Bingo, many months passed before he recovered from the poison. We really believed that he would never recover, but he did. When the spring came, he was as well and as strong as ever.
Some lime after that I had to leave Canada on business. When I returned two years later, Bingo was still with old Gordon Wright's family. I thought he forgot me, but it was not so.
One day, early in the winter, he disappeared for forty-eight hours. Then he came home, crawling, to Gordon's house, with a wolf-trap and a heavy log on one foot. The foot was frozen hard. He did not allow any one to come near him to help him. Then I, now a stranger, bent down and took the trap with one hand and his leg with the other. At once he seized my hand in his teeth. I did not move, and said, "Bingo, don't you know me?" He at once let go my hand, although he whined a good deal while I removed the trap. He still recognized me as his master in spite of my long absence. I, in my turn, felt that he was my dog.
During the rest of the winter he was lame, and two of his toes dropped off. But before the warm weather came, his strength returned, so that to a stranger, there was no mark of his terrible experience in the steel trap.
During that same winter I caught many wolves and foxes in the traps I set. Wolf-traps are made of heavy steel and have two very powerful springs. I set four traps around a bait that I put deep in the ground. Then I fastened the bait to logs which I carefully covered with cotton and fine sand.
A prairie wolf, who was not so lucky as Bingo, fell into one of the traps, and I killed him. Then I began to set the trap again. When everything was finished, I threw the trap-wrench toward my horse, and then, seeing some fine sand close by, I stretched out my hand for it.
But that fine sand was on the next wolf-trap, and in a moment I was a prisoner. Although I was not wounded, for the traps have no teeth and my thick gloves protected me, my hand was in the trap, and I could not get it out. I tried to reach the trap-wrench with my foot. I strained and strained, but could not reach it. Then I tried to turn round, but forgot about the other trap till there was a sharp snap and the iron jaws of trap Number 3 closed on my left foot.
All my struggles were in vain, and I lay on the ground helpless. What will become of me now? I thought. The cold weather was over, so that I could not freeze to death here. But no one knew where I was, and no one came to this place except woodcutters in winter. I must free myself! If I can't free myself, wolves will eat me or I shall die of cold and hunger!
As I lay there the red sun went down over the plain and a little shorelark sang his evening song quite close by. Now sharp pains crept up my arm, and I was terribly cold. Then I thought of the comfortable supper-table at Gordon's house. Oh, now they are just sitting down to supper! My horse stood as I left him, patiently waiting to take me home. When I called, he looked at me. "If he goes home," I said to myself, "the empty saddle will tell them what happened, and they will come and save me." But he did not move. He was a faithful animal, and waited hour after hour while I lay here, dying of cold and hunger.
Then a new thought came to me. This is how a wolf feels when he falls into a trap! Oh, now I shall pay for the misery I have caused! Slowly it began to grow dark. A prairie wolf howled, then another howled, and another. They called, and then I realized that dark forms were near me. The horse saw them first, and the terrified sound he made drove them back, but they returned and sat nearer. Soon one of them crawled up close to the body of the dead wolf near the trap. I shouted and he retreated. But the wolf came back and soon, with two or three others, they dragged the body away and all of them tore it to pieces and ate it up in a few minutes.
After that they came nearer and looked at me, and the boldest one smelt my rifle. I shouted and kicked him with my free foot. He retreated. But as I grew weaker, he became bolder, and snarled in my face. Others came up and did the same. Suddenly, out of the darkness, came a roar, and a great black wolf sprang out. The prairie wolves ran off, except the bold one, which the black stranger seized and killed in a few moments. And then, oh horrors, this great animal sprang at me and — Bingo, noble Bingo rubbed himself against me and licked my cold face.
"Bingo —Bingo —old boy — fetch me the trap-wrench!"
He ran off, and returned, dragging the rifle, for he knew only that I wanted something.
"No — Bingo — the trap-wrench!" This time it was my belt, but at last he brought the trap-wrench, and wagged his tail in joy that it was right. I worked with my free hand. After much difficulty, I opened up the trap and my hand was free, and a minute later my foot was free. Bingo brought my horse, while I walked about for some time to bring back the circulation in my body. Then I got on the horse. We went home, with Bingo barking in front. At home they told me that all day he behaved very strangely, and that as soon as it grew dark, he ran to the woods. He reached the spot where I lay in time to set me free and save me from death.
Brave old Bingo — lie was a strange dog. Though his heart was with mo, he passed me the next day and did not even look at me. And to the end he lived the wolfish life - that he loved, and looked for dead horses that he liked so much. He found one again with a poisoned bait. When he felt great pain, he went, not to Gordon's house, but to find me. He reached the door of my shanty, but I was not there. I returned the next day and found him dead in the snow at my door. My dog to the last! It was my help he looked for, and looked for in vain!