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TBT: Chicago's First Police Dog Was Buried In Six Corners 112 Years Ago

By Alex Nitkin | September 21, 2017 5:46am | Updated on September 21, 2017 11:11am
 A 1907 photo of the 36th Precinct Police Station, two years after Shep's death and 15 years before the building was demolished to make way for a Bank of America building
A 1907 photo of the 36th Precinct Police Station, two years after Shep's death and 15 years before the building was demolished to make way for a Bank of America building
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Northwest Chicago Historical Society

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department hadn't yet formed its canine unit around the turn of the 20th century, but this month's #ThrowbackThursday tells the story of one dog who took on the job anyway.

The 1922 demolition of the 36th Precinct Police Station in the southeastern slice of the Six Corners Shopping District likely exhumed the grave of Shep, a police companion whose watch had ended 17 years earlier.

The site was replaced by a Bank of America branch, which in turn was razed to make room for the still-pending Point at Six Corners.

A May 14, 1922, Tribune article tells Shep's proud and unlikely story:

Shep was a week-old pup when he was rescued from a fire by Sgt. John J. Griffin, now at the Shakespeare Avenue station. The fire was in a farmhouse near Dunning. Shep's mother and and six other puppies were suffocated.

For twelve years Shep was the most faithful "copper" that traveled beat out of the station. Every night at roll call he would pick out some policemen, whom he would follow until the officer went off duty in the morning. He possessed remarkable sagacity. The policemen called it human intelligence.

Shep's most noted exploit was the aid he gave in the capture of Griswold and Lake, two freight car thieves, who many years ago shot and killed Patrick Owens, father of the late Judge John E. Owens, who was in the employ of Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. Owens caught Griswold and Lake robbing a car near Deerfield, and in attempting to arrest them he was killed.

On June 22, 1905, Shep, who was then about 13 years old, staggered into the station in an exhausted condition. He had been partly blind for several months and was compelled to "retire on a pension." It was noticed that he had difficulty breathing, and a veterinary was sent for. There was no hope for Shep, the veterinary said, but the police insisted on a consultation of doctors. He died before other veterinarians arrived.

The next day his friends, the police, the school kids and the business men in the neighborhood buried Shep in the front yard of the station. A decent stone was raised over his grave, which will be obliterated when the bank is erected. On his stone is the inscription:

"Here lies Shep. Erected in memory of a dog, and a dog-gone good one."

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