This week is “Be Kind to Animals” week. Here is the story of a special community that took the time to show kindness to a special dog.
In the spring of 2011, Ozzie and Sally Guthrie rented their cottage at Lake Ondawa to some gas industry workers. After about six months, the tenants noticed a stray dog that kept coming around. They started leaving food outside, though the dog never came near them.
When their tenants had to move out, Ozzie and Sally started coming daily to leave food for the dog.
Still, the dog would not come near them. According to Sally, they had to go into the cottage, away from the windows, and only then would it come and eat.
“When I first saw it,” said Sally, “it brought tears to my eyes.”
When Ozzie’s brother, sister-in-law and niece found out about the dog, they wanted to help, too.
“We heard about a dog at the lake that nobody could get close to,” said Kelly Guthrie. “Possibly that it had been abandoned in the area.”
It was observed that the dog was staying under the snack shack or one of the cottages.
“We started taking up food to leave for it,” continued Kelly. “It would come out and look at us, but it didn’t come down until it saw us drive away.”
The two Guthrie families alternated days, bringing food daily through two winters. Still, the dog would not go near people.
Dick Walsh built a doghouse on the porch of the snack shack and put some blankets inside.
“The following morning, as I went by, I saw its nose sticking out,” said Dick. “It was in it. It took less than a day to get used to it. The dog was happy to get out of the storm.”
Dick also filled a large covered tin with dry dog food and left it at the snack shack. Other residents began feeding the dog.
But the stray dog still wouldn’t come near people.
Dick noticed that the dog was always hanging out at the ball field close to the snack shack. So, he named the dog Hank, after Hank Aaron. The name Hank stuck, even though with all of its matted hair people didn’t know if the dog was male or female.
When Ozzie came to feed the dog, he called it PupPup.
“It was three years that I fed the dog,” said Ozzie, who noticed that PupPup was finally starting to come a little closer. “I also got large dog biscuits and whenever I was leaving I threw one at it. The dog either ate it or took it and buried it.”
Eventually PupPup came within six feet of Ozzie and he spoke to it in a stern voice saying, “Come here.”
PupPup did. And took the biscuit from Ozzie’s hand.
The next day, PupPup came running to him when he arrived.
“From then on, when I arrived, PupPup came running,” said Ozzie, who added that as time went on the dog would go to others as well, as long as he was there. Eventually it came running no matter who was coming.
Once the dog could be handled, they found out that it was a she. So, those who had called her Hank changed her name to Henrietta. But Ozzie still called her PupPup, and that’s the name that stuck. When Ozzie called “PupPup”, she came running.
“One time as I was getting her food ready at the snack shack, I felt something nudge my shoulder and I turned around,” said Cheryl. “There she was! That was when she started liking people.”
It was Cheryl who noticed that PupPup’s tail was so matted that she could hardly move it.
“It looked like she had two tails hanging,” said Cheryl, who was able to cut the matted hair off. PupPup was able to wag her tail again.
PupPup continued to live the life of the free spirit that she was. All the residents at the lake fed her, making sure there was always food in her bowl and warm bedding in her doghouse. The Guthrie’s still came daily to feed her and give her the attention she deserved.
In February 2015, when it was brutally cold, Cheryl said, “Enough of this. I’m bringing her home.”
Cheryl officially adopted PupPup. Cheryl, Sally, and Ozzie shared in all the medical expenses that it took to get her settled in. They found she was already house trained, leash trained, and loved riding in vehicles.
“She didn’t like sleeping inside the house, but preferred sleeping downstairs where it was cooler,” explained Cheryl. “But every morning at 6 a.m. she came upstairs and jumped up on my bed; like an alarm clock.”
PupPup lived the rest of her life in a loving home, with people around her. She passed away in December 2018.
“She was the sweetest dog,” said Cheryl.
It was fortunate for PupPup that the Lake Ondawa Community was a caring one – a community who realized the life of a dog mattered.
“If it hadn’t been for those workers renting our cottage, we wouldn’t have known about her,” said Sally. “Our tenant said to Ozzie that he’ll never get a hold of that dog, but he did. He’s like a dog whisperer.”
The Guthrie’s had patience and didn’t give up on PupPup.
Dick Walsh built her a very special shelter and in his own way, encouraged the rest of the community to help care for her. The sign he put up on the snack shack with her tin of food is worn today, but its simple message is a reminder of the Lake Dog and still reads, “To all who care, if my dish is empty, please feed me.” — Hank