Oscar: Trail Leader

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“Oscar: Trail Leader,” Friend, July 2009, 22

Oscar: Trail Leader

Have you ever been to Martin’s Cove, Wyoming? More than 160 years ago, handcart pioneers took refuge in the cove during the winter. They were rescued by Church members from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Today, many families and groups visit Martin’s Cove during the summer to trek along the trail. Sometimes they push handcarts so they can learn more about what the pioneers went through. The groups are often greeted by an unexpected visitor—a four-legged visitor. It’s Oscar, a Pyrenees dog that lives about 10 miles away from the cove.

Oscar carefully picks the groups he leads along the trail. Sometimes when he’s sleeping, he perks up his head a bit if adults walk by and then goes back to sleep. But if a group of children walks by, Oscar often jumps up to go on the trek with them. Oscar leads the children along the trail, walking more than five miles to the cove and back. At lunchtime, Oscar usually eats peanut butter sandwiches along with everyone else.

Oscar protects children at their campsites too. One day, Oscar followed a group of boys back to their tent and began to bark. Oscar had discovered a rattlesnake inside! The boys got a leader to take the snake away so they would be safe.

At the end of each summer, Oscar returns home. He gets tired from walking all those miles with the children. But after Oscar has spent the fall and winter resting at his owner’s home, he always returns to Martin’s Cove to lead new groups of children along the trail.

Photographs by Lynna S. Davis