Part Shepherd, Mostly Affection
Reads an epitaph for a very special gravestone in Broomfield, Colorado at the U.S. 36 onramp. It marks the burial site of Shep the Turnpike Dog.
Tollbooth workers along what was then the Boulder-Denver Turnpike found Shep as a stray pup wandering around the Broomfield booth’s construction site in 1950. They took care of him, and Shep lived at the tollbooth. Travelers brought him food, bones and treats. A dog-food salesman even supplied Shep with a lifetime of kibble, free of charge. Back then, you could see Shep as he lay around the tollbooth, sunning himself without a care in the world.
Shep became an unofficial mascot for Colorado Department of Transportation, and his picture graced the turnpike’s financial statements during the 1950s. When Shep died in 1964, the highway maintenance workers built his grave.
Every year since then, some anonymous person decorated his grave for the holidays – baskets and flowers for Easter, and a tree with decorations and tinsel for Christmas. This dog was loved. He was never replaced by the highway workers.
And his grave remained at the interchange until just this past week. The grave was moved from its spot next to the U.S. 36 onramp to make way for planned construction on the Wadsworth Interchange. His gravesite now resides at the Broomfield Depot Museum. His remains will be cremated by a veterinarian and buried at the new site.
There are many special, legendary dogs across America. Not famous like Rin-Tin-Tin or Grayfriars Bobby, but legendary because they were loved and cared for by towns and businesses. Strays that wandered into their hearts. And when they passed, their grave sites were turned into monuments to show this love. For the love of the dog.
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