Tale of a Heroic Dog that Saved the Soldier’s Food

This article originally appeared in the Jan/Feb issue of Pioneer Magazine.

In the northeast corner of Ft. Bridger is a small grave, marked off by a wooden fence. On the grave is the inscription:


“Man never had a better, truer friend. Sleep on old friend. We’ll meet across the range.”

On inquiry the visitor learns that here is buried a dog. According to an article displayed in the Ft. Bridger Museum, 300 Indians attacked the small forces of Major J. J. Thornbaugh resulting in a fierce battle in which the major was killed. After the Indians had been repulsed, among the dead was found also the remains of a mother dog with a live male puppy alongside.

One of the soldiers was assigned to take care of the puppy which grew up in the fort and became a friend to all the soldiers. It learned to stand guard at night and was a good guardsman.

In a military crisis the food supply at the fort became very limited. One night a thief raided the supply store and was making off with the food, about all that was left. Then a loud commotion was heard and Thornburgh, the canine guard, had the thief by the throat and would have killed him except that the guard arrived in the nick of time.

After that, Thornburgh was not just another dog in the fort, but a hero, wearing a medal of honor. At his death a marble slab was erected over his remains and at Ft. Bridger still is told the tale of Thornburgh that kept the frontier fighters from a starveout.

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