‘Old Shep’ a favorite animal ballad of the Dark Corner

Published 7:45 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“I have thoroughly enjoyed your CD of Twice-sung Ballads that is bound-in with your new book, Twice-told Tales of the Dark Corner,” my neighbor said last week, “but you didn’t include any ballads about animals.”

He was right; I didn’t, probably because there aren’t too many of them.

Only two come to mind easily — “Old Shep” and “Bill Grogan’s Goat” — with the goat one being more of a joke ditty than a ballad.

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“My favorite was always ‘Old Shep’,” he continued. “Why don’t you include it soon in a new column?” So, especially for you neighbor, here’s how I remember the story:

Old Shep

Now when I was a lad, and Old Shep was a pup
Over hills and valleys we’d stray;
Just a boy and his dog, we were both full of fun
We grew up together that way.

I remember one time at the old swimmin’ hole
When I would have drowned beyond doubt;
But Old Shep was right there
To the rescue he came;
He jumped in and helped pull me out.

Now the years rolled along, at last he grew old
His eye sight was fast growing dim;

Then one day the doctor looked at me and said,
“I can’t do no more for him, Jim.”

So with hands that were trembling, I picked up my gun
And aimed it at Shep’s faithful head;
But I just couldn’t do it
I wanted to run
I wished they’d shoot me instead.

So I threw down the gun and ran right to his side;
He laid his faithful old head on my knee;
And I stroked the best pal that a man ever had;
And even cried so that I couldn’t see.

Now ,Old Shep he knew he was goin’ to go
Cause he reached up and licked at my hand.
Then he looked up at me, just as much as to say,
“I hate it, too, but you understand.”

Now Old Shep has gone where the good doggies go
and no more will Old Shep and I roam;
But if dogs have a heaven
There’s one thing I know;
Old Shep has a wonderful home.