Hundreds want to adopt dead caretaker's dog

Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Owners of a remote lodge whose caretaker died in a tree-cutting accident say they've been flooded with phone calls from people who want to adopt the dead man's dog.

Buddy, a black Labrador, led searchers to the body of 45-year-old Bill Hitchcock on Knight Island last week. The dog had apparently stood by Hitchcock for 12 days after a chunk of tree he was cutting for firewood fell on him.

Hitchcock had lived alone during the off-season on the Prince William Sound island, caring for the Sound Experience lodge, which is owned by Roger and Marilyn Stowell of Spokane, Wash. Buddy was Hitchcock's only companion, and the caretaker's death left the dog without a home.

The Stowells said they have received about a 1,000 phone calls and e-mails from across the country since Buddy made the news last week.

Marilyn Stowell says she has selected six Alaskans as finalists to adopt Buddy and expects to make a decision soon.

''We've just been deluged,'' Marilyn Stowell told the Anchorage Daily News. ''We want to thank everyone for their care and concern. It's been pretty gratifying.''

Stowell said has whittled the Buddy adoption list to six Alaskans. She expects to make a decision soon, weighing what would be best for a dog who has spent his life isolated on Knight Island. Buddy's only interaction with other people was during summer, when the lodge hosts 10 guests at a time.

Now the Stowells are hoping the calls will stop.

Roger Stowell said their phone rang more in one weekend than it normally does in a year.

''We'd be talking to someone and would have four more calls click in on call waiting,'' he said. ''It's been uplifting for us knowing that so many people care.''

Finding a replacement for Hitchcock will take longer, Roger Stowell said. A family friend will watch the lodge until the Stowells arrive for summer in mid-April.

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