The way I look at life, we are ALL stewards not only of the land but of each other; of environments as well as facets of society; of the big as well as the small; of the pretty as well as the ugly. Some people do nothing. Some do a mountain of work. It is a choice each of us makes, a choice no one can make for us but ourselves.
And so I make a semi-daily trek into a patch of woods behind McKee Elementary where there is a short nature trail, a trail of 1 bigger loop and 1 decidedly smaller loop to a little amphitheater of sorts. With school out, I consider myself somewhat of a 'keeper' of the woods since no one really looks after it, not even the school. There are periodic signs of kids smoking and doing things they shouldn't there after hours late on odd nights, with what small benches and nature signposts there mostly vandalized over recent years.
It is also, overall, the same woods where we came across a suicide victim and his wife wailing last fall.
Even with our record 104 degree heat 2 days in a row, Mercy wanted to walk the second short loop Friday morning...I usually let her decide and she's cut it short up 'til then. And so we went. Within 15 yards or so I noticed something had been dragged along the wide trail...not like a log, but more like a large sack of potatoes. I thought it a bit odd, but went ahead. 40 yards or so ahead was the amphitheater, and when Mercy got to it, she balked.
I've written before that animals "know" significantly more than we give them credit for...and that when things seem strange I watch Mercy intently. And for good reason. That pup "knows" stuff. She hesitantly took left off the trail into the edge of the woods, and was very fidgety and somewhat nervous/skittish. I watched. I entered the woods with her. She finally froze, not knowing where to go, so I started to carefully look around.
Mind you, we're only 15-20 feet into the woods...and as I looked right, I got a glimpse of what looked like sheepskin draped over part of a log. We retraced our steps back to the trail and circled the white patch...and found lying there, dead, an adult female Great Pyrenees. No collar, no blood or cuts...just dead for probably 24 hours or so.
Being an animal lover, I quickly became distraught. In the world of strays and dogs that wander, a (small) 120 pound female Great Pyrenees simply isn't on that list, ever. And so I thought some family was missing their dear pet...maybe it had met harm with these amorphous night-ghost kids that go there...I was a mess in very short order.
I called the police, as my first instinct was the dog was killed (drag marks)...they cut me over to 311 and animal control, and I began one of THE most futile wastes of time trying to tell them the situation. They wanted an address. I tell them I'm on a cell phone in the woods, but that it was a public school, McKee Elementary on McKee Road. They needed an address. I tell them surely they have a database that can pull up such public locations. They needed an address. They wanted to know if the dog was on the street. I said no, it's a good 1/4 mile off the road behind the school in woods. They wanted me to drag the dog to the street. I think I said something I shouldn't have. They then went on this long discussion of whether it was in Charlotte limits or in Mecklenburg County, given McKee goes through both. I said I had no idea...if they would look the school up they would know. They said they will not do anything more until I call them back with complete geographic details. I'm pretty sure I just hung up on them at that point.
I gathered Mercy and headed home. I got a phone book and began calling the local vets as well as a sizable 24/7 emergency vet clinic very close by. I called Matthews Animal Control, and I attempted to call the Humane Society later, but that's a whole 'nuther story. I check the papers and the "Lost & Found" sections going back a few days. Nothing. Not one mention of anyone missing a very unusual and large animal...not even to this moment that I'm writing, which would be Day 4 of the dog's disappearance.
The rest of Friday was a waste for me. Saturday, with some renewed strength, I went back to the scene. Having been a science teacher for 9 years, I learned to observe details wherever I go. I was a bit emotional Friday, but I felt more objective Saturday morning. I found the very spot where the dragging started. the leaves, mostly from a Muscadine type vine on the ground, had a whitish residue on several of the leaves. No blood. No signs of struggle. Just a few flattened leaves, and that residue. I followed the drag marks, and 'they' were taking it not deeper into the woods, but on toward the far end of the trail that opened up into large fields by the west end of the school. For whatever reason, they stopped, drug it back into the woods 15 feet and laid it against a log.
I'm sad to say there is no more to the story. I still think the dog was killed, via an injection...and the residue being whitish makes me think of salt which makes me think of sodium pentobarbital. However, that is a highly controlled substance used for animal euthanasia, so logic escapes that part. It was dragged, and then given up on, more than likely because it must have been quite a chore dragging a 120-pound bag of potatoes. 'They' put it in the woods to make it look natural. Failed miserably.
I think back to several months ago...an afternoon where I was getting ready to enter the east end of the woods and I saw an elderly man walking west to the second loop part...walking a Great Pyrenees. In the past year I may have encountered 5 people there, so it was a one-time sighting. Never saw him again.
The dog, the breed, the suspect evidence, and the fact that NO one has reported one missing makes me want to find that gentleman and ask him a few questions. Just as easily could be a fluke. The way things stand now, I don't expect to ever know what really happened.
I'll be calling the school after 9am Monday so they can more appropriately deal with the situation. I just hope they know their street address and city/county jurisdiction...
Great Pyrenees are not small.