Back in 1978 Charles Kuralt ran a story in his On The Road series about a dog, affectionately named Blackie, that stole the hearts of a community in Coles County, Illinois. It’s amazing to me that even these 50 years later, Blackie still maintains a level of respect that most people don’t acquire after a lifetime of working to be noticed. Blackie’s story is one that is played out by every dog I’ve ever known and loved, but his story happened to make it to the national stage where he could be an inspiration for all on what true love and dedication is made of while shining a light on the indignity too many suffer.
In the summer of 1965 a little black dog, who seemed to be lost, appeared at the juncture of IL Route 16 and 49. Bill Stiff, whose family’s farm adjoined the intersection, theorized that Blackie had been dumped and he was faithfully waiting for his master to return for him because he would never leave that stretch of road. People that traveled the road noticed him sitting there, always watching the traffic, as if waiting and watching for someone. Summer came and went and Blackie kept his vigil. People started to worry about his safety and how he was going to fare with winter coming, but when families tried to adopt him he always returned to his spot at the road, waiting for the one that had left him behind. His dedication was noticed and the people of town worried, so they brought him food. At Thanksgiving there were so many people bringing offerings there were more turkey bones than anyone could imagine, they were stacked that high. Blackie sat there for months, until one icy morning in February when he was struck and killed by a car. Saddened by the loss, the community put up a gravestone at the site where Blackie stood watch. All these many years since kids have taken turns mowing the grass to keep the area of his memorial cleaned up. Flowers continue to be left for him. It’s difficult to explain the impact that little dog had on this community, until you read what they inscribed on his grave marker. “Blackie. February 6, 1966. Know Ye Now True Loyalty and Love.” What that little soul showed was the spirit and meaning of true love and devotion, and through him the community was changed. Fifty years later they are still paying their respects. I hope and pray I have some impact remotely close to that of the little black dog of Coles County, Illinois, during my lifetime. If I do, I will have accomplished much.
Never forget, it is only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.