I hate movies where the dogs die. I always have.
As a kid growing up in the 1980’s, I could watch the greatest action heroes of the day slaughter armies of bad guys and not bat an eye. Kill the dog – the movie sucked. Without question.
These feelings have carried over into my research. I hate reading stories where the dog died, and I always cringe a little inside when it happens. I, perhaps as much as anyone, am well aware that history is full of ugliness, but leave the darn dog out of it, thank you very much.
But, sometimes, what you think is going to be an ugly story turns out to have an unexpected silver lining.
Charles Strelow, and his brother, Theodore, were farmers in eastern Nebraska. For fifty years, they saved virtually every penny that they earned and hid it away on their farm. In spite of being relatively wealthy, the two men lived a life of filth and destitution.
They rarely bathed or did any kind of self-grooming, and allowed their clothes to degenerate into rags. Their home was a shack covered in tin, and was full of the accumulated detritus of what must have been decades. It truly was the bachelor pad from hell.
While the Strelow’s life revolved around the farm, there were still times that they had to leave. Supplies had to be purchased in town, or crops taken to market. The brothers were very concerned about their money, and wanted to make sure that it stayed exactly where they had left it.
So, they bought a dog – two, to be precise.
People have used dogs as guardians for centuries. Different breeds of canine have watched over everything from people to livestock, or, as in this case, property and valuables.
The dogs were tied up most of the time, and an old wooden box provided their shelter. Deep ruts, several inches deep, had been worn in the earth by the animals as they paced back and forth during their daily duties.
The Strelow Brother’s neighbors all knew that that the dogs were ferocious, barking and snapping at anyone and everything within their line of sight. This included the few that had business on the farm and cars passing down the road.
When Theodore died in 1925, Charles was removed from the farm and taken to live at a sanitorium in Lincoln, Nebraska. In their absence, the dogs were looked after and fed, but still snarled and growled at anyone coming on the farm.
After the money had been found, authorities made the decision that the dogs were to be removed and taken to an animal shelter. A group of individuals, including law enforcement personnel, were sent to handle the task.
True to form, the dogs attacked their would-be collectors on sight. One even tore the spare tire cover off a deputy’s car. One of the animals had already been injured in some kind of fight, perhaps with another animal. Sadly, the dog’s wounds were too great, and the poor thing had to be euthanized.
The other, a big animal with black and white fur, was subdued and taken to a local animal shelter. There, the dog underwent an almost miraculous transformation. Where he had been vicious and ill-tempered before, he was now gentle and almost playful. The dog had become meek, and liked to be petted almost constantly.
Perhaps the only behavior that he retained from his former life on the Strelow farm was the fact that he kept an eye on anyone visiting the shelter. But, while seemingly alert for any signs of trouble, the dog didn’t show any signs of aggression at all. It was almost as if he were a brand-new animal.
When Charles was asked about what to do with him, the old farmer said that the dog should be killed. Thankfully, others didn’t agree with that decision, and appealed to the executors of the estate for guidance.
After hearing about the dog’s complete turnaround, they overruled Charles, and granted him a pardon from his owner’s death sentence.
While the local animal shelter had made plans for the dog to live there for the rest of its life, one of Charles Strelow’s nieces stepped forward and asked to adopt him instead. The request was granted, and the big dog found a new home.
Through it all, the dog never had a permanent name. The Strelow’s either hadn’t bothered to name him, or Charles just never mentioned it. The shelter had given him a nickname, but the niece didn’t like it. Instead, she wanted to find out the dog’s true name.
History doesn’t say if she ever did. It only says that she took pity on a ferocious dog that had turned over a new leaf. In the end, the hermit’s sentry, his job finally done, settled into a new home and received a new lease on life.
For more about the Strelow Brother’s and their fortune, please check out ‘The Strelow Brothers Hidden Fortune,’ available for reading at my website, www.johnbrassardjr.com, or to listen to at Apple I-Tunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Android Aps, or your favorite podcast provider.
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Reverses In Chicago Realty Led Two Strelow Brothers To Hoard Their Money and Become Hermits. The Lincoln Star, 11/20/1925
Strelow Urges Destruction of Faithful Guardian of Treasure. Lincoln Journal Star, 11/21/1925
Watchdog of Strelow Brothers A Zealous, Vicious Guardian of Treasure They Hoarded. The Lincoln Star, 11/22/1925
Guardian of the Strelow Fortune is Left Out In Cold By Masters Will. Lincoln Journal Star, 1/29/1926
Strelow Shepherd Dog Latest Claimant of Share In Estate. The Lincoln Star, 1/29/1926
Strelow Dog Finds Home. Lincoln Journal Star, 2/3/1926