HOMER -- Cheyenne, a 6-year-old husky mix dog, finally made it home last week, minus a paw that the Seymour family said it believes she left in a leg-hold trap set somewhere near Beluga Lake.
"The veterinarians were surprised she was still alive," said owner Debbie Seymour. "What if that had been a child?"
Cheyenne had snuck out of the Seymours' house 12 days earlier. She does it occasionally, said Debbie's husband, Kim Seymour, but normally the dog runs around their neighborhood off Ben Walters Lane an hour or so, and then returns.
Not this time. Not that afternoon, evening or the next day. Not for two days, then three, then a week.
Debbie said their other dog, a Doberman pinscher, was so distraught at having lost her playmate and friend that the Seymours adopted a puppy, Tank.
Then last Tuesday, 12 days after Cheyenne disappeared, Kim said, "I looked off the porch and there she was. Her expression was so sad, sort of like, 'Please help me.'"
When she came into the house, she limped up to her bed and laid down, exhausted. The Seymours were shocked at what they found. Cheyenne's right rear paw was missing entirely. Broken bones protruded where her foot should have started, and the skin on her lower leg was peeled back to the knee. Normally weighing 60 to 65 pounds, the dog now weighed 48.
When they took her to the veterinarian, "She was just skin on bone," Debbie said. "She was so dehydrated, they didn't want to do surgery."
Caught by the foot, Cheyenne had likely pulled to no avail. She also apparently gnawed at the trap, judging by how her lower teeth have worn away.
"They're notched out where she was chewing it," Kim said.
The veterinarian said Cheyenne did not chew off her own paw, according to the Seymours. Rather, the paw likely held fast until the bones in her foot died and weakened. Only then was she able to pull free.
Once home and nursed back to health, the vet amputated Cheyenne's leg at the hip. The bones had died back so far, Kim said, there was no saving it.
That was Oct. 19, and even as they left the vet's office, Cheyenne was able to walk on her own. Last week her balance improved steadily, although she still follows her master whenever Debbie leaves the room.
"She won't let us get out of her sight," Debbie said.
The Seymours have no idea where Cheyenne spent 12 long days, but suspect it was near Beluga Lake. They also wonder who might have put out such a trap and how that person would have felt had a child been caught.
"It's an ambush is what it is," Kim said.
Joel Gay is the managing editor for the Homer News.
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