From the wild to the window

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Five months ago Daily Reporter intern Kylie Sebert wrote "Queen of the road" about a female German shepherd -- commonly referred to as Phantom -- living in the wild south of Spencer. Individuals left food for Phantom and tried to capture her numerous times, to no avail.

Seventeen days after the article appeared, a mixture of anesthetics, mashed potatoes and gravy were used to sedate Phantom and transport her to the Humane Society in Milford.

Before the capture, motorists' complaints and the possibility of Phantom causing an accident prompted the Clay County Sheriff's Office to give her neighbors two weeks to catch her or they would be forced to enact a shoot-to-kill order on the canine.

With that fact in mind, the capture was obviously necessary.

Fast forward a few months.

Phantom has been adopted, rehabilitated and has now made local appearances with her owner, most recently as a "doggie in the window" at Medlar Studios during the Grand Meander Monday evening.

The chain of events includes some positive aspects, but also raises some questions.

First of all, it is absolutely amazing that Phantom survived a year -- including a brutally cold, snowy winter -- on her own.

Furthermore, it is probably better for Phantom that she no longer has to survive on her own and instead has guaranteed food and warmth this winter.

Phantom has also become a type of mascot for shelter pets. Considering animal shelters across the nation are full of creatures hoping to be pets again, publicity for such a cause is a good thing.

But that last point in particular raises quite a few questions.

Safety has to be a concern.

How can a dog go from independently living on its own and fending for itself to being petted by literally hundreds of admirers, including small children?

Less than five months does not seem long enough to make the dramatic transition, especially considering German shepherds are often regarded as the third most dangerous breed, behind only Pit Bulls and Rottweilers.

Of course those breeds are not all bad, but they need to be handled correctly. Forcing a dog like Phantom into the limelight may not be wise.

Now in the limelight, her image is on business cards, post cards and badges. A portion of proceeds from sales of the badges go to People for Pets in Spencer, according to

It seems as those items are only the beginning as the owner has openly mentioned the prospect of writing a book.

Why not? After all, Dewey Readmore Books paved the way for books about local furry celebrities to land on the New York Times Best-Seller list.

Perhaps some of the proceeds would go to People for Pets, or maybe a national organization like the Humane Society.

But the question remains, "Would Phantom had been adopted without the allure of attention, fortune and fame?"

Only a few people, and one dog, can answer that question for sure.