Once-Neglected Dog Gets Taste of the Good Life
Feb. 04, 1987
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) _ Money, get-well cards and even bags of Milk-Bones are pouring in from around the nation for Sam the Hermit, an abandoned dog with an injured eye who is being cared for by a whole town.
''I never realized there were so many good people in the world who would care so much about somebody else, even if that somebody else is an old dog,'' said Donna Blackwood of Tranquility, a San Joaquin Valley community of 1,500 people 160 miles southeast of San Francisco.
After publicity last month about efforts to care for the once-abused canine, animal lovers began sending donations and letters at an average of three to four per day from 20 states, said Eunice Bandoni. She and Ms. Blackwood alternate the chore of taking lunch to Sam the Hermit, as they call the German shepherd.
People in Tranquility began noticing Sam five years ago lying alongside the shoulder of the main road into town. He slept beneath a tree in a ditch, and roamed the countryside in search of food. From the roadside, he peered into cars, leading residents to speculate he was looking for his long-gone master.
Despite finally seeing the better side of man, Sam, who's believed to be about 8, years old, still shuns human contact.
A bank account set up by townsfolk to pay for surgery on Sam's left eye, and for shots has swelled to $2,700. After his death, any remaining money will go to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ms. Bandoni said.
But efforts to give Sam shots and operate on his eye, damaged by a pellet gun, have failed because the dog won't let anyone get close to him. Sam didn't respond to tranquilizer drugs that veterinarian Paul Toste slipped into his food three weeks ago.
''It may be the dog just doesn't want to be close friends,'' said Ms. Bandoni. ''He'll accept food, he'll even wag his tail, and let some of us get close. But that's as far as he opened up and maybe as much as he ever will.''
A local supermarket donated 200 pounds of dry dog food from damaged bags and agreed to sell canned food at cost.
Dog lovers like Peggy and Tom Watkins of Schenectady, N.Y. have sent bags of Milk-Bones, a dog treat. Carl Calderhead of Roseville, Calif., offered to pay for a new dog house because one built by workers at Tranquility's water company was stolen.
Mike Elwell, a student at California Polytechnic Institute at San Luis Obispo, sent $20 and wrote that he ''cried hard'' after reading about Sam.
''He seems like a wonderful dog who will trust someone, but he needs time to heal his wounds,'' said Elwell. ''He deserves the money more than I do. I never have suffered hardship and never felt neglected.''