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SCV Native Son Guards the Border


Posted: February 18, 2008 6:28 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2008 5:02 a.m.

That's how Canyon Country native Robert Crooks (aka Lil Dog) signs on and off after every communication, phone call or e-mail. Robert has been arguably one of America's top volunteer border watchdogs and "sentinel at the border."

Born on a chicken ranch in Sand Canyon at the midpoint of the 20th century, Robert attended Sulpher Springs Elementary School, was part of the first graduating class of Sierra Vista Junior High and went to Hart High. For those of you who remember Hart wrestling coach Keontop, Robert was one of his top wrestlers. Robert moved on to attend the brand-new College of the Canyons in 1969. He spent his career as a commercial fisherman captain in the vicinity of the Channel Islands. Lil Dog is a lifetime member of the VFW Post 6885 in Canyon Country and three-time president of the Hilltoppers 4-H Club.

Robert now calls his home Patriot Point. On any given day, your can find Lil Dog near energy tower station No. 132, Jacumba, located three miles east of Tecate, Mexico. Lil Dog and his best friend, a Lab mix named Freckles, live atop a hill in a slightly cluttered but absolutely state-of-the-art motor home, sitting and watching, observing and then reporting any and all suspicious activity, illegal alien and narcotics entry, 24/7. On scorching hot summer days or freezing cold winter nights, Robert patiently waits, observes and then reports to the U.S. Border Patrol, people movement and drug shipments in what the Border Patrol calls the heaviest smuggling portal in California.

After being shot at by drug smugglers near Jacumba in 2005, Lil Dog formed a Minuteman organization called the Mountain Minutemen. He sees his mission as observing and reporting and offers a first aid station for those who are in need at the border.

I asked Robert what a typical day was like at the border. Without missing a beat, "Dog" said, "Saturday, the American flag and pole was taken from atop Machete Mountain (near tower 241). Our friendly neighbors to the south of us aren't happy." Lil Dog goes on to say, "It is my belief that this is an expression of frustration, an immature act of aggression, destroying a respected object, the American flag. Not to fret, Freckles and I will be erecting another American flag this week. God bless America."

Lil Dog played an important role in the arrest of infamous drug dealer Arrelano Felix. Lil Dog provided critical information to Homeland Security that led to the arrest of Felix. Two I.C.E. officials casually walked up the hill, knocked on Dog's Winnebago front door and personally thanked him.

Other visitors of note? Not really. I would have thought President Bush or Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff would have communicated an expression of gratitude for this great patriot. As yet, there is no official recognition from the White House.

Robert has also erected another 30-foot American flag just inside the United States at Patriot Point. That flag has been dedicated to the United States Border Patrol. Volunteers are always welcome at Patriot Point. Contacting Lil Dog is easy. E-mail him at The Web site for more information is

I hope you can make the opportunity to meet Lil Dog at the border soon.

Canyon Country produced quite a son. Keep up the great work, Robert. You are a true American hero.

Roger Gitlin is a Santa Clarita resident, teacher and Minuteman. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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