Anita and Daryl Jung on Tuesday picked up River, their new yellow Labrador retriever, from the Aberdeen Area Humane Society, three weeks after two pheasant hunters found her in bad shape and apparently abandoned.
The Jungs live in Warner, just a few miles south of Aberdeen and already had two dogs and were among the first of hundreds of people to offer the homeless dog a home, said Elaine Schaible.
She is the manager of the Humane Society which has cared for River since she was found Jan. 4 by a pair of pheasant hunters on the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Aberdeen.
Scott Behan and Matt Flannigan were after pheasants in the last days of the season when the yellow Lab surprised them, bringing in one of their pheasants, beating their own dog to the bird.
The dog obviously had been out in the frigid weather for days without food or shelter, or tags.
“She had an orange hunting collar that a broken S hook that was bent open all the way,” Schaible said. The kind of hook usually holding dog tags. “It might have gotten caught in something. I hope someone was looking for her. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
The Humane Society named her River for no particular reason and put out the news of her plight. It went viral as people’s hearts went out to River, she said.
“We have had probably 500 calls for her,” Schaible said of adoption offers coming in from across the United States. “For us that’s a very high amount.”
Anita Jung came in the first day that the story appeared in the American News in Aberdeen “and put in her application,” Schaible said.
That put the Jungs at the top of the list.
Daryl Jung hunts so he figures he might take River along once she recovers more.
Schaible pegs River’s age at “8 to 11.”
River was way underweight and had sores on her paws and lower legs that she likely had caused herself, Schaible said.
It’s not unusual for some dogs, from boredom or anxiety or both, to keep licking their paws until they create wounds and then they keep on bothering the wounds, Schaible said.
“She is doing really, really good,” Schaible said. River has been getting two breakfasts each morning and can’t get enough. “She will do anything for a treat,” Schaible said. “She’s at about 45 pounds now. She should be at about 55. We have just put a little weight on her.”
“She is very spry for an older dog and has no arthritis in her hips.”
It appears a hunter lost and/or left River to fend for herself, Schaible said.
A woman contacted the Humane Society about some story of a Minnesota hunter losing a yellow Lab while hunting.
“But we put the story out there, on Craigslist (online advertising service) and about missing pets in Minnesota and haven’t found anything,” Schaible said. “It’s not for lack of trying.”
Schaible has theorized that River found shelter in a muskrat house and had water, of course, from snow and the refuge area.
“You can tell she is a hunting dog. We have had a couple of (hunting) crates and whenever she sees one she makes a bee-line to it and lies down in the crate, like ‘This is my place.’ Whenever she sees a pickup truck in the parking lot, she starts jumping up and down like that is something she is used to.”