Death, rescue, death, scam, love.

By Steva Dooley

It has been a roller-coaster ride for Jerry and Susan Pyle of Basin for the last couple of years. The Pyles have always had dogs in their lives. Many years ago, they got a female Pomeranian named Peaches. Peaches had puppies and the idea was to sell them, but every time one left home, it just hurt so bad that they just couldn’t do it anymore.

“When we only had Smokey left, Jerry said ‘No, we are keeping this one!’” Susan said. “So we kept little Smokey; she became our constant companion.”

“We took her everywhere with us, camping, traveling, even to the grocery store,” Jerry added. “We had her for 20 years.”

Eventually Smokey succumbed to age and kidney failure and the Pyles had her euthanized to end her suffering. That is when they decided that they didn’t want any more dogs.

“It just hurt too bad when they had to go,” Susan said. “We really didn’t want to go through that anymore.”

It was summer then and although they stayed busy, they missed Smokey terribly. Jerry and Susan’s children are all raised and have children of their own, and Smokey had become like another child, a constant companion to look out for.

“It wasn’t too bad through the summer,” Jerry said. “But when fall and winter settled in, we realized that we were kind of depressed, not the kind that necessarily requires medication, but we just didn’t want to do anything, we didn’t want to go anywhere. I would go to my radio room and Susan either watched TV or was playing games on Facebook. I realized that we were falling into an electronic stupor. We just really didn’t have any purpose in life.”

It was about that time that a friend saw a pair of Pomeranians that were up for adoption. This friend just felt that she needed to send the link to Jerry.

“She told me that she had no idea why my name popped into her brain,” said Jerry. “I had made it clear we weren’t really looking to replace Smokey. But she told us that the thought that she should send that link to me just wouldn’t go away.”

Jerry and Susan looked at the pictures, they discussed what it would mean, then Jerry called the rescue and started the process. Another good friend put in a good word and within just a few days, Griz and Koda came to live at the Pyle home.

The Pyles knew from the beginning that Griz had health issues; he had the beginning of kidney failure and a back leg that wasn’t quite right, but with good care and some medication, he soon was running around and making Jerry and Susan laugh.

“The two boys each chose their person,” Susan said. “Griz was Jerry’s and Koda became mine.”

“I have never seen any animal take to someone like Koda did Susan,” Jerry added. “He was so in bonded to her, if she was gone out of the house, he would just wander looking for her, and when she came home he was so happy. Just so happy.”

About eight months later they had to say good-bye to Griz as his kidneys totally failed. Koda missed his brother, but became even more bonded to Susan. They were happy with just the one dog and things were going well until earlier this summer.

Then tragedy struck.

Susan and Koda were on their deck just hanging out, when all of a sudden Koda took off after some fawn deer that were down over the hill from the house.

“We never worried about Koda running anywhere. He wouldn’t chase anything that wasn’t on the deck; he never had.”

But that morning, he did and it was tragic.

“I heard Susan scream and I tore out of the house, the doe deer was stomping on Koda, apparently thinking he was a threat to her fawn. When I went down, she finally left and I got to the bottom of the hill and there was Koda’s lifeless body,” explained Jerry. “I was in shock; I couldn’t even make it up the hill.”

“I had never seen anything like it,” said Susan. “It has sure made me look at deer differently. They just aren’t all little Bambies”

Their daughter Barbara arrived to visit the day after Koda’s death and that helped them cope some, but then their granddaughter found a litter of puppies needing homes in the internet.

This litter of puppies supposedly belonged to a man who had passed away and his family was trying to get them sold so they didn’t have to have them as a reminder of him. Jerry and Susan sadly fell right into the clutches of this scam.

“We were a mess and I didn’t want us to fall back into the mess we were in when we lost Smokey,” Jerry said. “So I think I jumped too fast and let it cloud my judgment.”

“I was instructed to send $350 via Western Union,” Jerry said. “Then we got a message that they were taking the puppy to the airport. We were following the planes that the puppy was supposed to be on, when we got a message that the puppy needed a better carrier, and for that they needed me to send them another $1,000. That was the wake-up call.”

That is when Jerry started checking with the airlines and found out that there never was a puppy, and that no puppy had been shipped.

“We were devastated, again,” said Jerry. “But more than that, I was mad. Really mad! Then to top it off we got a call from the guy wondering if we got our puppy. I was livid. You can’t print what I said to that man.”

So they got an education, albeit an expensive one.

“We call it our $350 education without a degree.”

Jerry wants people to be very careful. It is easy to fall victim to these kinds of scams when a person isn’t thinking straight.

“Be sure and take some time after a loss,” he advises. “When you are still hurting, you are vulnerable and it is easy to be taken. I was so certain that I didn’t want to go into winter without a dog, I didn’t want to fall into that hole again.”

Then they got a break. A friend knew a gal in South Dakota that had a litter of puppies. This time Jerry and Susan were more cautious, but this friend sent them videos and pictures. Then she checked with the owner of the puppies and gave Jerry the owner’s cell phone number.
“You can bet I was on the phone in about three minutes,” Jerry said. “I knew this time we could trust this person. It just felt different.”

At first, they agreed to take one puppy. Then the buyer of another puppy backed out and the Pyles decided that two puppies would be twice the love.

“They weren’t cheap,” Jerry said. “But they weren’t bad as far as Poms go either. We sent a check for the first puppy, and then the owner said we could just pay her for the other one when we picked them up.”

And so, the weekend of their 50th wedding anniversary, Jerry and Susan headed to Spearfish S.D., to pick up the two new members of their family.

“They don’t replace Koda, just like he didn’t replace Smokey. They all have their place in our family.”

“We went to South Dakota, with anticipation,” said Susan. “And came home with $1,000 of love in our car.”

Along the way, Jerry has learned of some great new technology and some websites to report online scams. They will likely never recover their money, but he does have all of the documentation and he is hoping he can help others not become victims of this kind of scam.

In the meantime they are enjoying the two new puppies. They have named them Sugar and Buddy. The little balls of fur are full of life and bring joy into the Pyle home.

“They just make us laugh so much,” Susan said.