Otto - Hospital Dog
Elko, Nevada (1940s)

In 1921, Elko General Hospital opened on the corner of College Avenue and Thirteenth Street. Then, in 1974, a new addition was built and the old hospital was demolished a few years later. Today, Elko has a state of the art medical facility on the south edge of town - Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital. Elko County School District ended up owning the old site on College Avenue.

Elko General Hospital.
Elko General Hospital, opened in 1921, demolished in the 1970s. Photo from the Northeastern Nevada Museum, Elko, files.

Today, tons and tons of contaminated earth are being hauled from the property. Some locals wonder if Otto's little casket holding his remains has been located or lost in the excavation process. We may never know.

Otto was a small dachshund who lived in the old hospital. Marie Herbster, long time hospital administrator, owned him or, perhaps, he owned her. He lived with her in the nurses' quarters on the north end of the building. Herbie, whose life was committed to the hospital and its patients, never married. Otto was her sole companion. The little dog was her pride and joy for many years.

During World War II, she saved her meat rationing stamps to buy Otto the finest steaks available while she ate what was served in the hospital. Otto might be a yapping pest but nothing was too good for him. A newsboy, now a community leader, detested the pint sized barking and snapping canine.

Once, when Otto was sick, Herbie ordered the doctors and nurses to x-ray him. She carried a lot of clout at the hospital. 

When Otto died, he was buried somewhere on the grounds. In the 1970s the 1921 structure was demolished and searchers looked unsuccessfully for his casket.

Otto probably has a new home now. It's a good chance that his remains went out in contaminated earth hauled off in a huge dump truck.

Source: Unpublished manuscript "Marie Herbster" by Terry Hickson.

©Copyright 2001 by Howard Hickson. Permission to use is given but, if any portion or all of this article is quoted, proper credit must be given.

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