September 20, 2013 9:55:50 AM
I saw a slow moving, old white dog the other morning. She was crossing one of the vacant fields at Lynn Lane and Louisville Street in Starkville. That property sits across from my office and so I took the time to watch her make her way through the grass in the first hours of the business day. No doubt she was headed to some quiet place to rest as the heat of the day began to descend on her home.
That was a poignant moment for me because I have been watching this particular old lady for a number of years now. She is fondly known, at least by me and the Starkville animal control officers, Rich McKee and Sara Hankins, as "Ghost Dog."
I first heard Rich refer to her as that back in about 2004 because she was white and only fleetingly visible and had proven impossible for him to catch. She is about 40 pounds of smart and savvy and free. There are times when free isn't what it is cracked up to be, but in her case it is probably how she prefers it since it is all she has known.
Rich and I have shared Ghost Dog sighting stories over the years. We most frequently see her when she has a litter of pups and has to get out to forage so she can feed and care for them. Most of the Ghost Dog sightings are on the south side of Starkville around Highway 12 in the vicinity of Lowe's and then around Pollard Road near the Co-op. Sometimes I get a glimpse of her when I am out in the early morning hours around the properties I manage across from the Sportsplex along Lynn Lane. She is scavenging in the garbage bags that some tenant in defiance of our trash ordinance has put out the night before.
She has survived on her own all this time and has escaped the efforts of man to catch her. The only thing she has been slave to over the years has been her gender and nature. I have to wonder how much of a toll having so many litters of pups has taken on her. Rich often tells me that he finds her puppies and collects them for the humane society to handle and hopefully adopt out. Of course, I wonder what toll the loss of her children takes on her as well.
There have been many over the years who have apparently expressed an interest in adopting her if Rich could ever catch her. The closest he has come has been to have a sighting and then watch her slip away as he gets near. Myself, I always figured that it would be a great kindness if we could catch her long enough to get her spayed, then we could let her go so that she could resume her way of life.
To my knowledge, she has most frequently been a solo act. I have never seen her running with a pack but there is a rumor she seeks the company of a group from time to time. She is great example of a wily survivor. She has become a bit of a legend in the community of us animal do-gooders. I watch her go by and am torn between wanting to care for her and being impressed that she continues to manage on her own.
I just heard she is keeping company with a group of six others. Actually I called Rich about the group who were enjoying the shade of a local Mexican restaurant on Yellowjacket Drive. Seems she is sharing their rambling ways. My guess is that she is the queen giving them all direction on how to survive in a hard and unpredictable world.
One of these months I am going to think about her and wonder how long it has been since I have seen her. I feel sure that I will call Rich and ask him when the last time he saw her was and he will tell me that it has been a while. I am also sure that we will both hope she is well wherever she is and we will know that she is probably gone but we'll never know for sure when or where or how. It will be kind of like the end of Butch and Sundance.