Something happened we would have never anticipated. Our dog was shot and killed in our neighborhood. It was a very cold night, only 11 degrees when my husband came home from work. He walked in the door, greeted me with a kiss, and set down his computer bag. Our other dog is an attention hog and she was making all sorts of thankful noises as she tried doing the figure 8 around my husband’s legs. She recently had surgery on her knee and my husband was trying to keep her calm so she didn’t re-injure her leg. During all this commotion, our pug slipped out the front door. The door was then closed with no knowledge of our little guy being outside. We ate dinner and chatted about the day’s events for about an hour. As I scooted my chair away from the table and looked down to keep from stepping on Popeye, who normally sat at my feet during dinner, I didn’t see him. This is the moment we both realized he was not in the house with us. Oh the sinking feeling I felt when I considered how cold it was and how long he’d been outside.
We rushed out the door and began calling his name. We walked up and down each street with flashlights assuming we’d see him sniffing around the bushes along the walkways just as he did a hundred times before. Not being able to bear the cold, we got into my car and continued the search. We saw only a few people and stopped to ask if they’d seen him, nobody had. I wanted to get back home and begin to use other avenues like posting his image online and calling the local humane society. As I started to look for a picture to use and get the word out on Facebook, my husband went back out on foot to search. He walked up and down the icy streets in search of our beloved furry family member while I posted an announcements on Craigslist and Facebook.
My husband went to pick up our eldest son to continue searching with him when I got the phone call. A very sweet veterinarian’s assistant called and said a pug had been brought into their facility that evening by a gentleman and unfortunately it had passed away. She said she had pugs of her own and was feeling really awful about it so when she got home she looked online to see if she could find any announcements about a missing pug when she found mine. She said the dog looked exactly like my photo. I asked her if he’d been hit by a car and I never would have anticipated her next words, “Actually the doctor thinks he’s been shot.” I immediately assumed it was not my dog. That dog would have been brought in from some rural area, somewhere away from town where a gun would go off and nobody would hear it. She pressed on, “I saw him when he was brought in and I’ve looked at your picture and I swear it is your dog.” She was quite convincing even though I didn’t want to believe her. She offered to drive back to work and meet me there so I could see him. I called my husband and we met there.
Shivering from the cold and nerves as I approached an outdoor freezer with my family members, she opened the door to reveal a couple of black garbage bags, just like the ones you put your lawn clippings in. She grabbed one and put it on a table, it was wrapped tight with duck tape. As she gracefully tried to unravel the tape, her eyes were trying to contain the tears that were welling up in them. Once she got it opened, she revealed his side and then his face. My husband was the first to look as I stood back. I could see clearly from my vantage point that it was Popeye, I even recognized his paws. I knew the color and size of his body, I knew his fur was graying and I just knew it was him. My husband wasn’t convinced, the whiteness of some of his fur didn’t compute as the flashlight shone upon his graying hair. Once his face was revealed, it revealed the answer we didn’t want. She showed us where the hole in his side was…a perfectly round hole in the side of his abdomen. She closed the bag and offered to let us take him home to be buried or we could leave him there and talk to the veterinarian in the morning. We chose the latter.
When we got back home, I received a call from a friend of mine. She had “shared” on Facebook my post about our dog missing and one of her friends had seen it. What that friend also saw was another post from a different friend of hers indicating he had found a pug lying in the road and rushed it to the vet but it didn’t make it. She made the connection between the two stories and gave me the phone number of the gentleman who had found him. I quickly placed a call to him, he was so kind and grieved right along with me. He said he saw Popeye lying in the middle of the road as he was driving. He told me he lifted him from the road where he was suffering and put him in his back seat. “He let me pick him up, he was very weak”. I was not expecting those words either. “Wait, he was alive??!!” The words stung as he explained the details to me so carefully and with kindness. He told me he talked to Popeye the whole way to the vet’s office. What a sweet, sweet man. Upon arrival, the clinic staff immediately took Popeye into a room. While this gentleman went into the bathroom to clean the blood from his hands, the staff and doctor analyzed our dog. He gave Popeye some Morphine for the pain but he had lost so much blood that he didn’t have much time. He began what the doctor described as “end of life” breathing and then he left us.
When we met with the vet the next morning, he explained how the wound was likely made by something like a .22 caliber weapon. It entered his abdomen, severed his aorta, broke his pelvic bone and exited near his rectum. How unbelievable were the words this man spoke to us! In our neighborhood? How could this be? How could anyone shoot our little furry child? He was no threat, he was a happy little aging pug. We determined this crime occurred within 30 minutes of when he slipped out the door. How could it be that someone in our “safe” neighborhood would do this? We may never know but we have hope that someone will come forward over time.
I am reminded that while we experienced the unimaginable, there are people in the world who have lost their children in a similar way. What a heartache to know there are people in the world who are willing to take innocent lives. Our story made top news in our community and while it was good to get the story out so our neighbors would be alerted, it was a bit embarrassing when in the same night two young girls were killed in a car accident. Having the media attention presented its own set of challenges but all in all we have been humbled by our amazing community, we’ve been supported in so many ways.
The many blessings we’ve experienced through this painful experience include cards and flowers from people we don’t even know. We’ve been blessed with a printing of Popeye from a local gallery. A childhood friend of my son’s did a beautiful oil painting of our sweet Popeye. A reward fund was put together with over $1,000 donated from members of the community. A local tavern offered a cash reward for any credible evidence leading to an arrest. People have helped spread reward flyers around the city… it’s simply been amazing. Several people have offered us puppies. We were unsure at first but now that the sting of the pain has eased a bit, we have reconsidered. We want our family to have the joy of a new wiggling puppy around the house. Due to the generosity of a wonderful family, we will have a new pug puppy coming in the spring. We will give him all the love we gave to Popeye. Sleep peacefully little buddy, you were my favorite!! Thank you for blessing my life for 11 years.