Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mr. Sigmann

...the story was originally published in Saturday's edition of Mansfield's News Journal, and has since fueled an angry backlash of readers, including myself.

While at work one night, a man by the name of Dale Blamer, discovered an aging dog trapped in the bowels of a large pit. Using a ladder, he managed to rescue it, and later took it home in order to nurse it back to full health.

A few days later, his roomate, Toni Barger, spotted a plea for a "lost dog" in the local classifieds, with a perfect description of the hound they'd rescued. They responded, and later returned the dog to it's rightful owner, Paul Jones.

A short time later, Mr. Jones showed his appreciation to the couple, by presenting them a pup sired by the same dog they'd rescued a few months earlier. While that act of kindness may not seem like a monumental gesture at first, once everyone learned of the dog's breed, the matter changed entirely.

The dog who's life Dale Blamer saved, and later returned to it's rightful owner, turned out to be a fullbred Hungarian Vizsla. A rare breed of European hunting dog, often sold for as much as $4,500.

The rust-colored, floppy-eared pup given to Barger and Blamer was named Mr. Sigmann, and was roughly 18 months old in the evening of November 18th, when Barger let the dog outside to do his business. Mr. Sigmann never returned.

Vizsla's are a short-haired, people-oriented, breed of hunting dog, known for their outgoing personalities and sharp IQ. Much like their German cousin, the Weimaraner, which I own, Vizsla's are not fond of cold weather, or rain. Most importantly, they are attention fiends. They simply can not be left alone for long periods of time. It will literally drive them into depression.

That being said, when Mr. Sigmann didn't return home within a few minutes on that rainy, November evening, Toni Barger immediately knew something was wrong.

Later that evening, after returning home, Dale Blamer walked his five acre property in the dark, searching for his missing pup. He found him only a few minutes later. Mr. Sigmann had remained true to his breed. He had not run off and gotten lost. Having never left his owner's property line, the dog had been shot with a bow and arrow. Worse yet, whoever commited the crime, then pulled the arrow out of the dog, tossed it aside, and left Mr. Sigmann to die alone in the rain.

The couple believes their dog was shot between 10-15 minutes of being let out of the house for it's potty break. It had been around 5:30 in the evening, nearly nightfall. Seeing well enough to get off a shot would've been difficult after dark.

Authorities have been called in, locals hunters questioned, and little turned up. A reward has been offered for any information leading to the culprit, with no calls thus far.

The couple's other dog, a black lab, has since stopped eating, and has been diagnosed with canine depression. According to their vet, the lab has decided to "will itself to die," over losing it's best friend. For anyone who's ever read "Where the Red Fern Grows," by Wilson Rawls, knows these symptoms all too well.

I guess the obvious assumption would be that since the dog's coat was an off-brown, rusty color, similar to that of a deer, one could mistake a Vizsla for a small doe standing out in a clearing. The problem with that theory is that Mr. Sigmann was still considered a pup, and weighed only 47 pounds. Even a small doe normally tips the scale at 150-180 pounds, and that's considered frail.

I'm betting that wasn't the case. I see an impatient hunter, spending his day hidden in the nearby thicket, moody from a day spent under an icy drizzle, having seen no sign of deer, and cursed with an itchy trigger finger. Action is yearned for. Then a dog is spotted, brownish in color, standing waist high, trotting timidly, much like a fawn. And following a lousy day spent in the rain, the hunter simply can't resist.

And that's a best case scenario.

Sad. So very sad...what some people will do.