June 2, 2008
Another Story of the Stockyards: JIMMY NORTON AND HIS DOG "HARRY"
For our canine friends, also from Illustrated History of the Union Stockyards: sketch-book of familiar faces and places at the yards (c1901)By W. Joseph Grand
JIMMY NORTON AND HIS DOG "HARRY."
COLUMNS and pages have been written about Harris' dog Boz, but Harry is a subject of unwritten history. Jimmy Norton may be technically termed a herder, and his partner in business is Harry. There is not a more industrious nor conscientious every-day worker at the yards than Harry, and every day the partners may be seen at work from early morning until late at night driving cattle from the yards to outside slaughter
houses. That sounds a simple business enough, but it requires never relaxing alertness and nimbleness on the part of both man and dog, and affords many chances
for the display of dog wit in particular It is needless to say that Harry is a collie; 110 other could have acquired so much cattle wisdom.
When, at sharp half past twelve every day, the gates of a pen are thrown open, Jimmy gallops up on his pony and rides away at the head of the herd of out-coming steers to the weigh scales. Harry has taken his post beside the gate, and quietly waits until the very last of the animals is out, when he slips up behind them and drives them off in the wake of Jim, who heads his herd from scale to scale and finally out to the slaughter house. During all the maneuvers of repeated turnings, weighings and divisions, Harry's ears are pricked up and his eyes glance quickly from side to side to see that no steer escapes. He needs no cue to do the right thing at the right time, and Jim himself is less quick to see signs of a steer's intention to bolt than Harry is. But should it be dark and a bullock succeed in slipping out of the bunch to another herd, Harry does nothing but glance at his master, as much as to say, "Never mind, I'll find him in the morning." He is as good as his word,and next morning is on hand brighter and earlier than usual, and without a word of reminder from anybody scents out the stray bullock from a pen full of steers as nearly alike as the peas in a pod, and quickly heads him into the right pen.
There is an ordinance existing which prohibits the driving of cattle through the downtown streets between the hours of eight in the morning and six in the evening. But it sometimes happens that a herd of cattle must be transferred from the stockyards to some downtown slaughter house during those very hours. The difficulty
to be overcome is that whoever drives the cattle will be arrested for violating the law. That is where Harry comes in. The cattle are driven out of the yards with Harry at their heels, while two or three herdsmen on ponies ride along through the alleys running parallel'with the street on which the herd is. Harry lacks nothing in intellect, and only wants a human form to be capable of discharging the duties of citizenship, but as the outraged policemen don't know that, they cannot arrest him. As he can be trusted to take care of his end of the line, all the herdsmen have to do is to keep the steers from bolting farther than the alleys, and so cattle are safely transferred through the city, ordinances to the contrary notwithstanding.
Sometimes they are city cattle which must be transferred that is, cattle which have been raised in the city and sold to the stockyards, and resold to some slaughter house and then were it not for Harry there would be trouble. Ten chances to one a cow raised in the city as soon as she finds herself on the street bolts for her old home. She is so homesick and determined to get there that neither Harry nor any other collie could head her off, and the best he can do is to track her to her home, and as soon as possible return to the yards for a herdsman to accompany him to the cow's place of refuge. There is no man in the yards so stupid when he sees Harry bound in late at night after such a chase as not to know that all he has to do next morning is to mount his horse and be led directly to the runaway, when she will be brought back in triumph.
These are only some of Harry's duties,but these alone render him an indispensable member of the stockyards staff, and assure him of a life-long job, and, perhaps, a pension for faithful service when his usefulness is over.
For Harry is no longer young, as the gray hair around his eyes will testify, although he is so active when on duty that you would never guess his age. He is not a sociable dog, and if you should learn the number of winters which have passed over his head you would jump to the conclusion that he is irascible from old age, but such is not the case, for he has never been a hail-collie-well-met at any period of his life. He does not fraternize with the other dogs in the yards, and does not make friends with man or beast. Should you attempt to pat him the sign "hands off" may be read in every bristling hair, and if you do not heed it it will be emphasized by a growl and snap. Jimmy alone may caress him, and only Jimmv's voice will he obey. When Jimmy and Harry are not busy they may be found at the Exchange Building, Jimmy talking and Harry stretched on the floor, his head on his paws and his eyes on his master, taking in every expression of his face. When the master's face takes on the "on duty" expression, Harry springs up, and when Jimmy mounts his horse he cavorts around the pony's legs with an amount of frisky glee which proves that in his case all work and no play has not made Jack a dull boy. Harry has no parlor tricks; he can't shake hands, nor jump through a hoop nor beg and wouldn't if he could but for all-round smartness on cattle we recommend you to Harry, as grand and intelligent a specimen of the collie breed as ever heeled a bullock into line, or headed a flock of sheep.
Photo Credit: "Cattle Pens and Runways, Union Stock Yards, Chicago." DigitalPast.org