For more than eight years, a dog roamed on the edge of civilization, in a field in Buhler, KS, unwilling to come in from the cold.
“It was a mysterious dog that sat in the field, and everyone pointed her out,” said the mayor of Buhler, Daniel Friesen, according to the Kansas City Star.
And many people tried to help her, mostly by leaving food, after they realized that the dog, a blond, wire-haired dog affectionately named D.D., for Ditch Dog, would not let any humans get near her.
“Everyone adopted her,” said Buhler Police Chief Bill Tracy. “She was the best-fed dog in town. She never bothered a thing, and that’s why she was allowed to stay out there.”
"She was a very intelligent dog," he went on. "I could tell if someone was trying to catch her; she would go out in the middle of the wheat field and curl up in a ball."
Her life out there was not without hardship. Early on, when she was first noticed, her paw was caught in her collar, and she could only run on three legs. And she did run; attempts to catch her proved fruitless. Eventually the collar "weathered, rotted, and fell off" -- yet still she ran on three legs for a time, because of pain or habit, no one can say.
The dog was also smart: D.D. stayed on the county side of the road, which prevented her from being picked up by authorities under Buhler's leash law.
Rachelle Cavanaugh was one person who kept an eye on D.D., feeding her and caring for her from afar. Cavanaugh had three rescues already at home, and she was determined to make D.D. her fourth. After suspecting that D.D. was suffering from arthritis, she began leaving treats with medicine, to help with the pain. She also put flea medicine in the food she left for D.D.
Finally, after eight years, D.D. had enough of the outdoor life. When Cavanaugh was at the food dish, D.D. approached and let the woman touch her.
"She was starving for attention," Cavanaugh said. "That forced my hand."
It took some days before the dog was ready to stay with Cavanaugh, and Cavanaugh moved slowly, so the dog would not be spooked. One cold day, Cavanaugh spotted D.D. and opened her car door. The dog jumped in. She took D.D. home and let her mix with her other dogs. Then she took her back to the field.
"It's been a process," Cavanaugh said of gaining the trust of the dog. "I didn't want my dogs at risk or to jeopardize her. If I was taking her home, it had to work."
It finally did. D.D. is now a member of her family, and she has her forever home after eight long years in a field. Her anxiety is still an issue, but the dog knows how to soothe herself.
"She goes to her pillow," Cavanaugh said. "She knows she's safe there."
As for all the people who fed and wondered about the dog they'd see in the field, Cavanaugh put up a sign in the area. It reads: "Buhler: Thank you for all the years of care and concern. I have found a home and I am adjusting. God bless you, Ditch Dog."