NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — It could have been David and Goliath as a small and bulky raccoon sent two large Dobermans — 90 and 60 pounds each — running for safety.
In the old biblical story of a small boy versus a giant, a stone brings down the hulking man. In this case, it was simply a gash by a fearless raccoon that put the chase into these muscular, fast and sleek dogs that can stand over two feet tall.
Seeking refuge inside the house, Shadow and Samantha met their owner Mary Shaw at the door while she defied the chasing varmint that dodged for an escape route under her porch, disappearing as she then tended to small scratches on the large dogs.
“To me, that is so much the story, Shadow is such as whoosh and gentle. Samantha is the hunter,” Shaw said.
It might be the tale of survival and escape that earns 90-pound Shadow the Nationwide Insurance Co.’s 2022 “Hambone Award.” He is among twelve finalists from around the country competing until October 17 in the company’s annual online crowd-sourcing contest (tinyurl.com/hambne) offering similar stories of the most unusual pet insurance claim of the year. Visitors to the site, read the stories and vote for their favorite.
Mary and her husband, Bruce, were enjoying their golden years in the natural beauty of their Rhode Island home when the opportunity to adopt a handsome Doberman rescue came along. They leaped at the chance and started calling him Shadow because of the way he shadowed Bruce.
Shadow may look ferocious but is full of goofiness, quickly connected with the family’s pack of pooches, including his new best friend, Samantha, a 65-pound female Doberman mix, Shaw said.
“She’s feisty—takes on Shadow, no problem. They can play rough, but they are best friends, and they work as a team,” Mary Shaw said with a laugh. “If something seems suspicious, Shadow barks an alarm bark for Samantha. Samantha will immediately come and check to see if something needs to be done and takes care of business.”
The pair had their routine down pretty well until an unusually large critter from the woods surprised them both — and led to this Hambone-nominated story.
Shadow and Samantha went off to explore the backyard like they would any other day. Suddenly, Shaw heard Shadow’s alarm bark and went to the back deck to call in the dogs. To her astonishment, a parade of animals was racing toward her — Samantha, who usually won’t run from a challenge in the lead, followed by Shadow … and a huge raccoon chasing the both of them.
Fortunately, the hulking raccoon disappeared under the deck after it saw Mary. She brought the pooches inside and gave them both a thorough once-over to make sure they were okay. Samantha had a small mark on her nose — likely a bite or scratch, but Shadow appeared fine.
“I looked at Shadow and I didn’t see anything,” Mary recalls. She reached out to the authorities at the Department of Environmental Management and immediately brought both dogs to their vet as a precautionary measure.
Later she sees a wound not first visible that was on Shadow’s shoulder. It required another trip to the vet, anesthesia to sedate him while cleaning the area and then updated shots.
“Though the scratch looked minor, the skin was actually torn away from the muscle underneath the skin and required stitches,” Shaw said.
What was going on in the minds of those dogs, Shaw thought, especially Shadow. “He is a bit of a wimp … one time he got concerned and barked an alarm over a piece of rope,” she said.
“I really firmly believe that he was protecting Samantha, like ‘I don’t want to do this, but I’m not going to let anything happen to you,’” she said.