Melanie Courchane is an animal lover extraordinaire.
She feeds, pets and loves the many stray dogs on Rocky Boy, where she lives. But for a couple of years, she had a favorite. King, a large black dog, started visiting her home frequently. Every morning he was there, smiling and waiting for his breakfast. After eating, he would love to get his belly rubbed, she said.
RezQ Dogs, the Dodson-based shelter, provided her with dog food to help feed the strays.
When Melanie wasn’t home, King would stop in at a friend’s house not far away for his food and petting.
Her grandchildren also became King’s fans. He was a big dog, she said, but he was so friendly and would play with the children.
“He was what we might call a community dog,” said Anita Wilke of RezQ Dogs.
When he first started coming to Melanie’s house, he had a long tail. When he returned, it was much shorter.
“I think somebody took a hatchet to it,” Melanie sighed.
One day recently, Melanie was horrified when she saw King walk up to her with an arrow stuck in his right side. Someone had fired an arrow into King’s right side.
She called RezQ Dogs, but Jim and Anita Wilke had a commitment they couldn’t break. So they called Pete Federspiel from the Havre animal shelter, who promptly went to Rocky Boy to pick up King.
But by the time he got there, King, frightened by all the hubbub, had taken off for parts unknown.
Melanie’s neighbors joined forces and scoured the reservation in search of King. They finally found him beneath the porch at the home of Melanie’s friend, cowering in fear.
They took King back to Bear Paw Veterinary Service in Havre, X-rayed him and removed the arrow.
“It was something of a miracle,” said Jim Wilke. The arrow had narrowly avoided King’s spine, which would have caused serious injury.
“In fact, from the X-ray, it looked like it had touched the spine,” he said.
They also found some pellets that had been shot into poor King’s body.
He was kept at the vet’s office overnight, and Jim Wilke went to pick him up and take him to Dodson, where they would care for him, get his vaccinations and look for King’s forever home.
King was reluctant to leave the safety of the vet’s office.
“He was literally shivering with fear,” Jim Wilke said.
But it didn’t take long. Tired of the backseat, King soon got in the front seat and tried to cuddle up in Jim’s lap.
“King is a big dog,” Jim Wilke said, laughing.
King will now get his shots and undergo training so he is not so afraid of strangers. Then he will be put up for adoption.
“Somebody will get a nice, friendly dog in King,” said Jim Wilke.
RezQ Dogs has a good success rate at finding homes for animals.
They will never just release a dog back into the wilderness from which they came, he said. Oftentimes, they adopt the dogs right from their Dodson facility, he said. Other times, shelters in bigger cities find homes for their dogs.
The story seems headed for a happy ending, though Melanie said she still wakes each morning expecting to see King waiting for his breakfast.
“Whoever gets him will have a great dog,” she said.
Email John Kelleher at firstname.lastname@example.org