Bob - a dog in love with trains (7 photos)

22 April 2024

If your heart beats to the rhythm of the train wheels and longs for freedom, then it doesn’t matter at all that you are just an ordinary yard dog.

This curly, rootless handsome fellow left his mark on the history of South Australia and paw prints on the rails of its railways. Bob's story is one of love, friendship and adventure as he became an integral part of the country's railroads in the late 19th century.


Bob was born in 1883 in Macclesfield, South Australia. From a very young age, this fluffy brown and white baby of unknown breed was in love with railroads.

As a puppy, Bob would often leave home, following the railroad tracks to watch the workers laying the lines. Several times the baby had to be returned to the owner. But one day, when he was nine months old, Bob ran away.

Bob sits on the roof

And he ended up 60 kilometers from Adelaide, where he was caught by dog catchers, put on a truck with 50 other comrades and sent north as part of a rabbit control program. When the train stopped at Tarrowee, a guard named William Ferry practically fell in love with Bob and took him to the busy railway town of Petersburg (now Peterborough).

Ferry taught Bob all sorts of commands and tricks. And his four-legged friend helped him keep watch. Quite often Bob rode the train with his owner. Then Ferry received a promotion and became assistant station manager in Pietersburg. But Bob continued to ride trains alone, getting on and off where he saw fit.

Bob is known to have traveled thousands of kilometers. Representatives of the close-knit railway community took a liking to the shaggy traveler, so the drivers had no problem taking him with them to feed him and spend the night. And in the morning the dog returned to the station and chose a new route.

According to a report in the Petersburg Times, his favorite place was the Yankee steam locomotive: the big whistle and billowing smoke seemed to have a hypnotic appeal to the dog.

Bob didn't like commuter trains because of the cramped cabins. But at the same time, the cunning man learned to free up a third-class compartment for his own use, simply scaring away passengers with loud barks.

The active dog was present as a guest of honor at the 1881 Melbourne Exhibition at the opening of the railway between Pietersburg and Broken Hill.

After spending 12 happy years on the Australian railways, Bob died quietly of old age in 1895. Shortly after his death, a newspaper published a poetic dedication from his railroad comrades.

Bob wore a special collar made for him by the railroad workers. On the leather collar was a sign that read: “Don’t stop me, let me walk, because I’m Bob, the train drivers’ dog.” His collar is on display at the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide, along with photographs and other memorabilia.

A life-size statue of Bob was installed on the main street of Peterborough in 2009. And the shaggy traveler with a free heart, even decades later, watches the trains - the love of his life.

Add your comment
  • bowtiesmilelaughingblushsmileyrelaxedsmirk

You might be interested in: