November 30, 2011 - It's a story that began with an act of unthinkable cruelty perpetrated against an innocent animal, but it ended with a gesture of immense generosity.
Oxford resident Liz Wilson and her canine companion, Duke.
Photo by CJC. (click for larger version)
A 1½-year-old dog named Duke was shot Nov. 21 by an unknown person somewhere near his family's Oxford home on Davison Lake Rd., near Baldwin Rd.
"It's just a hideous thing," said Liz Wilson, whose daughter, Amy, is Duke's owner. "I can hardly wrap my mind around (the idea of) anybody who could look into that lovely face and shoot it. It's just beyond me."
Duke, who's a mixture of English Setter, Bullmastiff and an undetermined breed, spends a lot of time at Wilson's home, particularly while her husband, Jim, is away.
The morning of the shooting, Duke was out playing with Amy's other two dogs, Spike and George.
About 10 or 15 minutes after the trio left, Duke returned with a visible injury.
"Duke came to the door, bleeding all over the place," said Wilson, who serves as pastor of Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ in Oxford Village. "I thought he had a foot injury because his feet were all bloody. It turned out he was bleeding from his neck. When I found this injury on his neck, I figured he'd run into a stick."
When Wilson attempted to put some medication on the injury, her finger slid inside the wound up to the first knuckle.
"I thought uh-oh," she said.
It turns out Duke had been shot with a 40-caliber slug from a muzzle-loading (or black powder) rifle.
"It was a huge slug," said Wilson, who taught the Oxford school district for 36 years.
The slug entered Duke's throat in the area where it meets the chest, then traveled into his abdominal cavity where it became lodged.
"It never hit a bone or anything vital," Wilson said. "As things go, it was as good as it could get. It's a miracle that he's alive."
Duke had surgery at Michigan Veterinary Specialists in Auburn Hills and returned home on Nov. 23, just in time for Thanksgiving.
According to Wilson, Duke's "doing really, really well."
"Right now, he's munching on a ham bone and very happy," she said during the telephone interview with this reporter. "He's very strong and he's recovering very nicely."
Wilson noted Duke's only problem seems to be he's now skittish around men.
Duke's medical bill amounted to more than $6,000.
Wilson and her daughter were unsure how they were going to pay such a hefty bill.
Fortunately, some anonymous good Samaritan paid $4,000 of it just prior to Duke's release from the hospital.
"I have no idea who did it. None," Wilson said. "I don't even know what to say to this person, except thank you, thank you, thank you. This is a wonderful thing that happened."
As for who shot Duke and why, that remains a complete mystery.
"He's the kind of dog that is an ambassador to the world," Wilson said. "He hasn't got a mean bone in his body."
Even though Duke's her "protection" while her husband's away, Wilson admitted the worst he could do is probably "slurp somebody to death."
"All people who know him were horrified, just horrified by what happened. He's just a sweet, sweet dog."
Based on what veterinarians told her, Wilson said it's clear Duke's shooting was no accident; it was definitely a purposeful act.
The veterinarians told her Duke was sitting when he was shot, facing the person who did it at close range. It wasn't like a hunter mistook him for a deer.
"It was such a direct shot," Wilson said. "He was definitely not running because (the slug) would have been in the side or in the buttocks."
That someone would or could do this to her dog or anyone's dog or cat is utterly inconceivable to Wilson.
"I'm horrified at this type of behavior towards an innocent creature," she said.
Wilson made it clear she's not anti-hunting or anti-gun. In fact, she comes from a family of hunters, particularly her husband.
"But none of us would shoot a dog," she said.
Wilson wanted to make this incident public in the hopes of shaming the person who shot Duke.
"I want somebody to feel bad about what they did," she said. "I don't want there to be any bragging rights with this."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.