Lena died this morning on the highway. She had been on the run for more than two weeks having slipped away from her adoptive family. Her face was full of porcupine quills & she was very thin. Obviously her final days were spent in misery. She appeared to have finally oriented herself & was coming back to the kennel. Unfortunately time & luck ran out.
Her adoptive family spent time every day looking for her & until this morning no sign of her. I received a visitor early this morning saying he saw a dog west of South River. I went out & drove the area but couldn’t see her. Shortly after I got home an O.P.P. officer came round with her collar to say she had been hit. I must have just missed her as I came right up that stretch of highway.
Lena is the third of my adopted dogs to be killed on the roads this spring. I stress to everyone who adopts one of my dogs that they need to be ultra careful as this is a new life for the dog & a new home. Once outside they are at the mercy of traffic & other dangers of civilization. Because they love to run, they can be a long way gone in very short order.
To be fair, this was a good family & Lena had become a part of their lives. She lived in the house & went for several walks daily. This has been devastating for them.
Here is a stat for you. In 40 years working dogs I have never had a dog in my possession killed on the road. We have never lost a dog who has escaped. Our dogs that slip harness on trail or at camp, stay with the team or come home. The reason I believe is because our dogs have a purpose in life. They have a job & they are proud & happy. I think that is important to all adopters to give their dog a purpose. Then they have a reason to stay. Digger , in retirement, became a training partner for a runner. Gretzky became companion to a young boy. Many of my guides have dogs that are loyal companions.
It is very hard, first to give up a dog that has worked for you for so many years. Yes, even with 350 dogs it is hard. But our dogs are deserving of a special family & extra attention that we can’t provide. So we trust those who wish to adopt to take good care of the dog, to protect & to love. Even though, Lena was no longer our dog, we all feel a sense of loss & sadness that her life ended in pain & fear. It was not what we envisioned.
I always advise people to put their telephone number on the collar or to tag the dog with contact details. At least it gives the dog a chance at return or as in this case to bring conclusion to her story.
For Lena, her story has ended.