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Frank Gray

Jack Newkirk will soon have to give up Dusty, a dog was abandoned years ago in rural Whitley County.

Dog days for Dusty might end

If someone were to ask whether Dusty the dog is really part cat, you couldn’t fault them. The dog seems to have, if not nine lives, more than one.

We wrote about the dog about four years ago. In the dark of night in March of 2009, a car or truck with a loud muffler dumped the dog in the countryside near the home of a woman named June Rawleigh.

It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence.

People frequently dump unwanted dogs in rural areas, where they eventually disappear, sometimes being shot as strays or killed by coyotes.

But this dog was different. Though it seemed to wander, it came back every day to the very spot where it was dumped off, sometimes playing by itself and occasionally glancing up and down the road as though it were waiting for its owner to return.

The owner never returned, but the dog kept up its vigil for at least six months, never falling prey to coyotes, cars or people with guns.

Rawleigh took to leaving food for the dog, but no one was able to catch it.

Finally, about October of 2009, neighbors did manage to corral the dog in a fenced in area, where it quickly impressed everyone with its mild manner and the way it was transformed almost instantly once someone managed to put a collar and leash on it.

Visits to a veterinarian revealed that the dog’s body was full of buckshot – someone had apparently tried to kill it as a stray – but it was otherwise healthy and smart as a whip.

Eventually the dog was adopted out to a man living in a semi-rural area of the county. That man described the dog as the smartest animal he’d ever had.

It seemed to be the perfect solution for a dog that was probably meant to be doomed when its original owner dumped it off in the night.

Then the new owner suffered some unexpected health problems and decided, with his family, that he needed to go into assisted living.

The dog couldn’t go with him, leaving the man distraught and panicked about what would happen to the dog. A solution would have to be found in a matter of days.

Well, we wrote about the lousy turn of events on Sunday, and it now appears that Dusty’s luck, which seems to periodically go from terrible to great and back to terrible, might be on its way to being good again.

Numerous people have contacted the newspaper asking about adopting Dusty. They range from people who say the dog is identical to a dog they once had, to people who have rescued dogs in the past, people with land in the country, and people who are willing to adopt the dog and even take it to visit its current owner in assisted living, if it will be permitted.

The owner’s daughter is currently screening prospective owners. Her main concern is that the dog be allowed to live inside, not be chained up outside, and have people around rather than being left alone much of the day.

From the looks of things it appears it’s safe to call Dusty a lucky dog.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.