Abandoned Shepherd loses sad battle

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondent

When I met up with the German Shepherd there was momentary apprehension and I wondered if my weapons of defense were adequate if the dog wasn't friendly. Doubtless it was hunger that prompted her to extend her muzzle up within reach of my hand, not for a pat on the head, but for a handout.

The road where I walked that morning is a popular dumping ground for cast away animals, and the German shepherd's condition really got to me. The dog was starved; her ribs stood out from a coat that was riddled with the worst case of mange I've seen. She obviously was trying to nurse her small pup following along beside her. She wasn't managing that very well from the looks of the pup, it was starved too.

My mind traveled many roads to try and find a solution. German Shepherds are my favorite dogs but I didn't have a place for one. I was not equipped to transport the dog anywhere, and knew of no resource of help. So, I walked away, not knowing what else to do. She tried to follow, of course, so I clapped my hands and told her to "git". She ran in front of me for a while with speed that was astonishing given her condition. Observing her build, I wondered at her speed and her strong hips. Remembering other Shepherds I once owned, I remembered their tendency to hip dysplasia, and wondered if this dog could be the answer to a problem Shepherd breeders have long sought to solve.

She left her puppy by the road as she ran all the way to the end of the road then met me coming back. I wondered how she managed in her starved condition. Perhaps it was the pup and knowing she had to somehow feed him.

The mother Shepherd was in the area for three days, back and forth along the road, desperate in her search for food. Her pup was too weak to trail along with her and she left it, returning to it after her foraging trips. Neighbors left food by the road, but it wasn't enough to bring two starved animals back to life and solve the problems they were facing.

Buzzards called my attention to the spot where the puppy usually lay. On investigation, I found its remains, just one small foot. What a way to die! The mother? I stopped seeing her on the road but I doubt she had a happy ending.