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Tag: vigil

Shep: Montana dog was faithful to the end

It may be a dog in Japan who is most famous for demonstrating the true meaning of loyalty, but the vigil of a Montana dog, named Shep, is at least equally heart-wrenching.

The story of Shep’s vigil begins, almost eerily, the year after the death of Hachiko, the Akita who, after his master died, famously waited for him every day at a train station for nearly 10 years.

Hachiko would accompany his master, a university professor, to the train station every morning, and be waiting for him when he returned. When his master didn’t get off the train one day, having died while at work, Hachiko continued going to the train station every day for nine years and nine months, until he died in 1935.

In 1936, a sheep herder in Montana took ill and was taken to St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. His dog followed him into town, and waited outside the hospital.

A nun who ran the kitchen at the hospital brought the dog food as he stood vigil for the next several days, until the sheep herder, whose name has been lost to history, died.

His body was put into a coffin and taken to the train station in Fort Benton to be shipped to his family back east.

As it was loaded onto the train, Shep was there watching. Reportedly, he whimpered as the door slammed shut and the train pulled away,

The dog chased the train for a while, then turned back.

For the next five and a half years, Shep, believed to be a collie mix, never left the train station. He lived underneath the train platform, and would greet each train that stopped — about four a day — in hopes of seeing his master.

According to FortBenton.com, Shep “eyed each passenger hopefully, and was often chased off as a mongrel but never completely discouraged. Neither the heat of summer days nor the bitter Montana winter days prevented Shep from meeting the next train.

“As Shep’s fame spread, people came from everywhere to see him, to photograph him, and to try and make friends and possibly adopt him. All of the attention was somewhat unwelcome; after checking the train he often retired quickly to get away from those who came to see him. Most people missed the point that Shep was a one-man dog.”

Railroad employees fed Shep, and the story of his vigil was carried in the old “Believe it Or Not” newspaper feature, and picked up by other news media of the day.

As time went on, though, Shep was slowing down, probably arthritic, and he had grown hard of hearing.

One day in 1942, unable to hear an arriving train and too slow and frail to get off the icy tracks, Shep was struck and killed.

His death made headlines and thousands of people sent in condolences.

Hundreds attended his funeral, at which a boy scout troop carried Shep in his coffin up to a bluff and buried him.

An obelisk and sign mark the spot of his burial, and 50 years after his death the town of Fort Benton commissioned a statue memorializing Shep, which now sits alongside the Missouri River.

NBC’s Dateline carried a short report about Shep last week:

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Vigil honors dog who was beaten and burned

A candlelight vigil was held in Milwaukee Sunday in honor of Big Boy, a 2-year-old miniature pinscher that police said was beaten with a stick, doused with gasoline then set on fire, sustaining injuries so severe he had to be put down.

The dog’s owner, Clarissa Burnette, read a poem about Big Boy, who joined her family two years ago. The dog was stolen April 9 after he was let outside, according to TV station WISN.

Milwaukee police have arrested a 13-year-old boy in connection with the case.

Organizers of the vigil said the case shows the need for tougher animal cruelty laws.  “We want them to know they really need to tighten these law up,” said organizer Wendy Blish.

The Humane Society of the United States on Friday offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the abuse.

Target remembered at candlelight vigil

Target, the dog brought to the U.S. from Aghanistan by one of the soldiers whose lives she was credited with saving — only to be accidentally euthanized by an animal shelter — was remembered in a memorial service last night.

The candlelight vigil was held at the Pima County Animal Shelter in Tucson.

In Afghanistan, Target, a stray befriended by a group of American soldiers, kept a suicide bomber who was trying to enter a building on a military base from gaining access. Instead, the bomber instead set off his bomb in a doorway. Five soldiers were injured, several of whom credited Target with helping save their lives.

Phoenix soldier Terry Young brought Target back home to Arizona.  Last month, the dog escaped from Young’s yard and ended up in at the Pinal County animal shelter in Casa Grande, where she was accidentally euthanized the next day. The employee responsible for the mistake has been suspended.

Young said his son, Tavius, and the rest of the family is still working to get over the dog’s death, according to KGUN9.

“It’s been a few weeks already and Tavius still says, ‘Where’s Target?’ It’s heartbreaking.”

Dog stays at dead master’s side for a week

ladyWhen Parley Nichols, 81, went missing from his home in Hartville, Ohio, his family wasn’t surprised to learn that the dog who never left his side was missing, too.

Six-year-old Lady, a golden retriever he bought as a puppy, was his constant companion.

Nichols, who suffered from dementia, had been missing for more than a week when a neighbor called his family to report that a dog had been heard barking in a field outside of town. After searching the area twice, the family found Nichols dead, and Lady at his side.

“Lady was standing by his side protecting him,”  Parley’s son Terry Nichols told PEOPLEpets.com. “We are sure that she never left my dad for seven days, staying alive by drinking water from the creek.”

Terry Nichols said the family had to pull Lady away from her master and place her in the back of their pickup truck. “I don’t know how dogs perceive things but she knew she had to stay with dad no matter what,” he said. “And she did.”

A preliminary autopsy conducted by the Stark County coroner found that Parley Nichols died of heart failure, and could have been dead for the full week.

Lady has moved in with other members of Nichols’ family.

“Lady seems fine now… she is a friendly, happy dog,” Nichols said. “I don’t know if she misses my dad, but she is responding well to the rest of us. She did the right thing for dad, and we will always be comforted by that.”

(Photos: WKYC-TV)

Hachiko: The movie trailer, in Japanese

Here — just because it all seems so circular — is a Japanese trailer for an American movie based on a Japanese legend.

The soon to be released “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story”  is an Americanized version of the true account of the Akita who waited everyday at the train station for his master, a University of Tokyo professor, to return home from work. When his master died on the job, Hachiko continued the vigil — for another 10 years.

In the American movie, Richard Gere plays the professor, with Rhode Island substituting for Japan.

Hachiko was brought to Tokyo by his owner, Eisaburo Uyeno, a professor in the agriculture department at the University of Tokyo. For a year, the dog greeted him at the end of the day at Shibuya Station. In May 1925,  Professor Uyeno, after a stroke, died at work. While the dog was passed on to new owners, he continued to go to the train station everyday, in hopes of seeing his owner.

A bronze statue of Hachiko is now a permanent fixture at the train station in Shibuya, and his mounted remains are kept at the National Science Museum of Japan in Tokyo.

You can find the trailer in English on YouTube. The movie — and you can count on it being a tearjerker — was originally scheduled to come out in August 2009. It will be released in the U.S. by March.

Ohio dog warden says he won’t resign

Meet Tom Skeldon, the dog warden — yes, they still use that prison-esque title there — for Lucas County, Ohio.

If he seems a tad perturbed in this video, part of a Toledo Blade report, it’s because a lot of folks — many of them part of the “criminal element,” he says — are calling for him to resign.

Animal-rights groups say Skeldon refuses to work with them and is focused on killing dogs — 2,483 last year and 1,848 so far this year, based on a Blade review of records in the dog warden’s office.

About three of every four dogs that enter the pound don’t make it out, and are instead injected with fatal doses of chemicals each week, frozen in room-sized freezers at the pound, and buried in area landfills. Lucas County’s dog adoption rate was a dismal 13 percent, much lower than in neighboring counties.

The continued killing is at the center of recent calls for the warden to step down. Among those requesting he depart is the Ohio Coalition of Dog Advocates, whose members, armed with candles, staged a vigil outside the pound last month.

Skeldon, however, says the facility’s adoption and kill rates are “statistically glowing,” and that those calling for his resignation are misguided. He told the newspaper that his staff euthanizes only the lamest, oldest, meanest, and most incorrigible of the dogs in their care. Except for unlicensed “pit bulls.” They kill all of those. The dog warden’s office has killed at least 932 “pit bulls” or “pit bull” mixes this year, including 46 “pit bull” pups.

One Lucas County Commissioner, Ben Konop, has also suggested Skeldon resign.

Skeldon, who has been warden since 1987, said that he will not step down from his job and vowed to stay until his retirement, “sometime in 2011.”

New policy gives dogfighting victims a chance

Animals seized from dogfighting operations and other cruelty investigations deserve a right to be independently reviewed, instead of being automatically euthanized, a coalition of animal welfare groups has agreed.

After a meeting in Las Vegas last week, The Humane Society of the United States has revised its policies and now recommends that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption.

Under the new policy, dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered to adopters or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy.

In addition, groups participating in the meeting have vowed to  work together to help the canine victims of organized violence.

The meeting was prompted by the recent mass euthanasia of 145 dogs — including newly born puppies — that were seized from North Carolina Ed Faron, who bred fighting dogs at his Wildside Kennels.

The dogs were killed at the conclusion of his court case in Wilkes County, where authorities said their laws mandated the action. Unlike the dogs seized in the higher profile Michael Vick case, no efforts were made by the government, lawyers or major rescue organizations to save the Faron dogs, at least not until it was too late.

Lat week’s meeting was convened to address the matter of dogs seized as a result of cruelty investigations, particularly due to the increase in HSUS-led enforcement actions against dogfighters.

Participants at the meeting included Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, BAD RAP, ASPCA, National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, Nevada Humane Society, and Spartanburg Humane Society.

The groups agreed that all dogs should be treated as individuals. They also agreed to support law enforcement and animal control agencies when decisions must be made regarding the dogs deemed unsuitable for adoption, and in cases when rescue organizations and adopters are unable, within a reasonable timeframe, to accept dogs from such raids that have been offered for adoption.

The organizations will form a working group to develop future protocols for cooperation in addressing the needs of dogs seized in raids, such as how to assist with the housing of fighting dogs, how to conduct professional evaluations, and how to screen potential adopters.