Kids rescue dog in woods

Published: November 13, 2006 | 5038th good news item since 2003

A local Carmel dog is lucky to be alive after spending five weeks alone trapped in the woods, its leash stuck around a tree. [Living with Kids and Dogs…Without Losing Your Mind]

Hari Palta was walking Indy, a 4-year-old Shiba Inu, on Sept. 22 when Palta slipped, fell and let go of the leash. Indy, who had just been adopted by Palta’s son Rahul, 24, ran away.

The Paltas and Cindy Mahaffey, the assistant fund-raising coordinator for Midwest Shiba Inu, started an exhaustive, monthlong search. They searched the woods near Hari Palta’s home, posted 1,000 fliers around the neighborhood and surrounding businesses and placed messages on various Internet Web boards.

They received several responses, but each proved to be a dead end. After more than a month of fruitless searching, Rahul feared he would never see his dog again.

“We got several sightings, but they all turned out to be another dog or a fox,” Mahaffey said.

On Oct. 29, three local girls, Kaitlyn Kaminskas, 9, Ashley Yuska, 8, and her sister Rachel Yuska, 10, were walking in the woods when they heard howling and found a small, malnourished dog. They fed the ravenous pooch some bread and cheese, but couldn’t untangle the leash from the tree.

The girls didn’t know what to do about the dog, so they told their friends Joe Shelly, 9, and Natalie Broton, 11. Shelly told his parents and his dad Stacy cut Indy free. Stacy Shelly said the dog was extremely weak from his ordeal and needed to be carried home. Stacy Shelly found Indy’s tag and called Rahul. In a matter of hours, the dog and his owner were reunited.

Indy was a little worse for wear, but alive, Rahul said. He lost about a third of his body weight while he was trapped in the woods. The Paltas believe Indy managed to survive eating grubs and grass and drinking pooled rainwater. Indy’s veterinarian said the dog would have died in a few more days had he not been rescued.

Before Rahul adopted Indy, Mahaffey said, two families had already rejected him because he seemed too shy and timid. He liked to hide from people and hated to make eye contact with humans or other animals. Noises and sudden movements frightened him.

He also seemed to have a fear of open spaces, preferring to lie in the corner of a room, she said. Indy also didn’t eat or drink much; he would take a single piece of food from his bowl to a corner where he would nibble on it until it was finished. Mahaffey blames Indy’s antisocial behavior on his upbringing as a breeder dog.

“He didn’t seem interested in being a normal pet,” Mahaffey said. [The Man Who Talks to Dogs: The Story of Randy Grim and His Fight to Save America’s Abandoned Dogs]

But Rahul didn’t mind Indy’s shyness. He was convinced with a lot of love and attention, he would be able to turn Indy around.

“He’s one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever seen,” Rahul said. “He’s had a rough life, but I thought I could give him a fresh start and treat him like the great dog that he is.”

Mahaffey describes Shiba Inus as “the cats of the dog world,” as they are fairly aloof and clean. The smallest of the Japanese dog breeds, they resemble Siberian huskies and Akitas. Shibas typically reach about 24 pounds and 16 inches tall. Shiba Inu means “lawn dog” in Japanese.

Indy has regained nearly 2 pounds and seems to be less shy around people, Rahul said. He is more willing to go up to people now and is starting to enjoy attention more. Hari believes Indy is more trusting now because he knows how hard they looked for him and how much Rahul cares for him.

To thank the children for finding Indy, Mahaffey persuaded local businesses, such as Regal Cinemas and Dick’s Sporting Goods, to donate gift certificates. The Shellys have grown so attached to Indy, they’ve offered to dog sit for him whenever Rahul leaves town.

Published in Animals, Kids & Teens, Rescues
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