Hunting Dogs photo

A Florida woman whose champion Plott hound was stolen and sold to an unwitting bear hunter now has her dog back, thanks to that hunter’s honesty and a bad encounter with an angry bear.

From this story on

The frightening picture gave Joi Hosker both hope and despair. Hope because it meant her champion show dog had been found. Despair because it showed him hooked up to IVs and near death after being attacked by a bear. For eight fruitless months, she had searched for George, her Plott hunting dog whose registered name is “Hosker’s Georgie Boy.” It’s a lost-and-found story with a tall “tail” of an ending.
_”…In late 2009, Hosker boarded George with a hunter/trainer in Columbia County while she traveled to Lake Charles, La., to visit her seriously ill mother and her husband was out of town on a job. When she returned home after her mother’s death, Gary Hosker broke the news that he feared George might be dead. The kennel owner had told him George had escaped.

“I looked at Gary and said that’s not true,” said Hosker, adding that she sensed the kennel owner was lying. “I think he sold my dog.” She filed a report with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office saying she suspected George might have been stolen from the man’s property. When police questioned him about it, the man (Hosker does not want to name him) called her, got angry and hung up, she said.

Thus began Hosker’s eight-month quest to find her beloved George. She posted ads in magazines, newsletters, online boards, wherever she thought hound hunters might see.

“That July, Jeremy Rhodes of Four Oaks, N.C., called to say he’d bought a dog in November from a Columbia County man who had placed an Internet ad advertising him as a bear hunting hound. He thought the dog might be hers, but there was just one problem. He was in a veterinarian’s care and might not make it. “My heart went numb,” Hosker said. In a telephone interview, Rhodes said he only saw her ad when he went on the same Internet site to research a replacement in case the dog died. Rhodes sent her photos from the vet’s office. Despite the IVs, Hosker was able to identify George from the white markings on his chest. The irony: Had George not been injured, Rhodes probably would not have returned to the website and seen Hosker’s ad. Rhodes said he had been hunting bear with George over the July 4 weekend. George, a “bay” dog who surrounds the game and barks to send the bear up a tree, was charged by the animal instead. He suffered internal injuries, but George, a muscular 70 pounds, did pull through.

The Hoskers and Rhodes have since become friends, and the Hoskers even gave Rhodes another dog in appreciation of his honest act. Meanwhile, George has gone on to become the number three Plott hound in the nation. As for the unscrupulous fiend who stole George, the day before he was to be arrested Joi settled with him out of court.

Wow, what a story. Conventional wisdom holds that there are show dogs, and there are field dogs, and never the two shall meet. And as with most conventional wisdom, it’s not completely true. Many sporting and working dog breeds either have or have had some dual champions, those dogs who earn titles in both the field trial and show ring.

But it’s not often you find a dog who who can mix it up with a bear one day, and then go all “Best In Show” the next. In fact, George will be competing next week at the Super Bowl of dog shows, the Westminster Kennel Club show in New York. How cool is that? I’d bet dollars to donuts that George is the only competitor who can say he’s survived a bear attack. That’s reason to watch right there…