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Queen of the road

Friday, July 9, 2010

Using a long telephoto lens, Daily Reporter photographer Michael Fischer is able to capture the homeless German shepherd as she wanders onto an area property looking for food set out on her behalf. The dog, which lives near a bridge, avoids direct contact with humans.
(Photo by Michael Fischer)
A phantom German shepherd living near a bridge south of town continues to generate interest

Driving south of Spencer on Highway 71, keep your eyes peeled, you just might capture sight of a "furry friend" running alongside your car in the fields.

A German shepherd, residing under the bridge across the street from Mark and Robyn Larson's residence, managed to survive the winter and continues to look healthy.

"At the end of last summer she was found on the municipal golf course and no one knew who she belonged to," Robyn said. "People tried to catch her but she was too smart and quick."

When winter approached, the dog moved to the bridge across the street from the Larsons. Surprisingly, Robyn said that throughout the winter, the German shepherd appeared to get healthier.

"I can't tell you how many nice people we have met who have stopped at our house to tell us our dog is by the road," she said. "Many people would love to adopt her and take her home but she's too fast and she's scared to death."

Robyn said the Larsons would like to take the German shepherd in too, but she emphasized, no one can get close to the dog. She said that her and her husband have thought about naming her either Phantom -- because one day she will be there and the next, not -- or Bridgette -- because she lives under a bridge. The Larsons also joked that they feel like they have the best of both worlds because it's like having a dog they can watch from a distance and not worry about having in the house.

Robyn noted a peculiar habit the dog has suggesting it might offer some insight as to where she came from.

"She generally appears intelligent. The only time she goes near the road is if certain cars drive by, she will lunge after them," Robyn said. "It's only certain cars, as if she is waiting for someone in that vehicle."

According to the neighboring homeowner around the same time that the German shepherd showed up, a terrible car accident took place right by the bridge. Her theory is that the dog may have been in the car with the people who were badly injured. She was scared so she took off when help came.

"She's quite the survivor," Robyn said. "Every once in a while she will be gone for a week or two and then one day I will just see her again...People leave her food as they drive by and we leave a pail of dog food for her sometimes. Just two days ago someone brought us a huge thing of dog food for her. People will drive by on their way to and from work and look for her and it's like everyone has adopted her."

The Larsons and other neighbors like Dr. Mark Reese, have tried to find a solution, but each option they consider seems dangerous to the dog who has caused no harm. Mark has attempted to get close to her twice and said she takes off like a "shot" if he gets anywhere near her.

"Although people have suggested it, I'm not going to try to sedate her because that may lead to a bad ending. There is no logical solution," the doctor said. "She's not hurting anything and seems too smart to get close to a car. She's happy there."

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Has anyone tried to locate the people in the car in the bridge accident? I would think if it was their dog they would have been trying to find it whether area residents or not. Of course a large dog trap could be always be set but may not work. Hopefully the dog will be smart enough to avoid harm.

-- Posted by communicate on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 8:31 AM

Seems that the dog is doing well. Why try to fit him into our "box" of a world? As long as he does not pose a danger to himself and those around him, he seems to be taken care of. I love the name Phantom :)

-- Posted by read me on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 10:05 AM

that's a beautiful dog...I hope this story ends with a happy ending

-- Posted by Bansky on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 10:13 AM

I hope the ending is happy as well. But I think she needs to be caught to at least make sure she is spayed and get her shots. She is beautiful but we don't need puppies running around on the highway as well.

I am so glad at the fact that there are people who have been stopping out of concern and also giving her food. What a supportive community we live in! Makes me proud!

-- Posted by puppyluv on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 12:27 PM

"Queen of the Highway" (title of a song by The Doors) would have been more apropos. ;)

-- Posted by IowaRox on Fri, Jul 9, 2010, at 1:25 PM

Please get this dog off the road before she gets hit by a car or some one shoots her or something. She was probably dumped along the road by an irresponsable person. The humane society has cages that they can catch her in. She shouldn't be used as a scenic attraction.

-- Posted by iowagirl on Sat, Jul 10, 2010, at 4:30 PM

I agree with Iowagirl. There are humane traps available to capture dogs her size.

She may look healthy and vigorous now, but the lives of feral animals often end in trauma or suffering.

I saw her out there once and she was in the road when there were cars going by. What about the accidents that could potentially happen with her being hit by a car, or people on foot getting hit trying to catch her?

-- Posted by stafinois on Sun, Jul 11, 2010, at 11:54 AM

The story was well written. I ended up feeling

that the dog must have lost his owner by the

bridge.Barb Shroyer

-- Posted by barbshroyer on Sun, Jul 11, 2010, at 2:38 PM

No actually the owner tossed out the dog by the bridge. Why would the owner be lost by the bridge. this is a large dog. Large dogs are expensive to vet and feed. Most dogs will be afraid of people if they have not been socialized around people by the age of six months. I think this dog was thrown out and abandoned. It is possable to tame the dog, but it will take a long time and patience. Hopefully this can happen by a person that knows how to do it. I wish I lived there as I would do that. I have helped capture dogs before that have been abandoned . The dog needs to be caught and vetted. It probably has ticks and fleas which are not healthy for a dog.

-- Posted by iowagirl on Sun, Jul 11, 2010, at 8:15 PM

I agree with iowagirl that the dog was probably dropped off by some loser owner. Dogs in the wild generally live in packs, not alone. The dog is probably going to get hit by a car. By the way it is illegal in the state of iowa for a dog to run free off a leash, according to the clay county conservation board.

-- Posted by brian48 on Sun, Jul 18, 2010, at 7:57 PM

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