Virginia Holmes was puzzled. Her little cocker spaniel, Taffy, would often disappear for days at a time.

Herman Thurman was equally perplexed. His dog, also a cocker spaniel named Rusty, would pull similar disappearing acts.

In May of 1950, Holmes and Thurman found themselves in the middle of a “dog-gone mystery” (as the Harrison Daily Times put it) that concerned a dog leading a double life.

Holmes was the secretary to L.J. Cooper, the Ozark Division manager of the Arkansas Power and Light Company. Thurman was a cadet engineer for the same company.

A friend happened to give Thurman a “brownish-yellowish” cocker spaniel, who was given the name Rusty.

About two weeks later, according to the Daily Times account, in a similar situation, a friend gave Holmes a “yellowish-brownish” cocker spaniel. Taffy was the name given it by Holmes.

Holmes and Thurman being co-workers, they soon compared notes on their new pets. The two dogs, they found, were of similar size and color. They also shared another, more troubling trait. Taffy and Rusty, it seemed, exhibited a strange unhappiness in their homes and would disappear for days at a time.

For about a month, Holmes and Thurman shared with each other suggestions on how to keep their dogs at home.

Finally, Rusty failed to return to the Thurman house, and he could not be found. Taffy, on the other hand, suddenly became more content at home with Holmes.

A mutual acquaintance, who happened to visit Holmes, remarked that her dog looked exactly like that of Thurman’s, even down to the identical mole on the lip.

“A hurried visit confirmed the belief that Rusty and Taffy were the same,” the Daily Times reported. “Confusion – even litigation – might have followed had not Cooper brought the controversy to a happy ending when he was asked to arbitrate.”

Thurman graciously allowed Holmes to keep the dog.

After all, Cooper said, Rusty – alias Taffy – had made the decision himself when he had definitely established residence at Holmes’ house.

This is article is part of a series about Boone County history and provided by the Boone County Heritage Museum. The museum is located at 124 South Cherry in Harrison. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday. Closed on Sunday and Wednesday. For more information on the museum, call 741-3312 or email

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