Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost reminded me of the story this week. He likes to tell it.
It was back in the 80′s when Gordon Taylor, who died this week, was Grand Forks County Sheriff. Bob, now Grand Forks County Sheriff himself, was a deputy sheriff.
Deputy Rost must have appeared hundreds of times at area schools and events, in costume as McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog. Bob would play McGruff. Sometimes Gordon Taylor would “play” the sheriff, accompanying the crime fightin’ canine.
One day, McGruff appeared on WDAZ’s Noonday Program, a local talk show hosted at the time by Madelyn Camrud. This time, Deputy Rost appeared as himself. Someone else was in the dog suit.
It was at the height of the Sheriff Taylor’s “problems” which would eventually result in his removal from office at the hands of the governor. They were problems that were regularly reported on television by me, among many other reporters. Just before the show (or maybe just after it), I passed Rost and McGruff in the hallway of the station.
As we passed–there’s no other way to put it–McGruff punched me in the stomach. Not hard enough to knock the wind out of me. But hard enough to hurt.
I remember the look on Rost’s face. It was a combination of shock and awe and an ever so slight look of horror.
I thought it was funny. A little odd, maybe, but funny.
The next time I saw Deputy Rost a few weeks later he said “Do you know who punched you? Gordy.”
He told me when they got back in the car to leave the station he put the question to Sheriff Taylor.
“Why’d you do that?”
Taylor said “It just happened.”