PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — There are 300 members of the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club. But for a time late last year, it was 301 — and it seems now everyone wants to be his friend.
Toward the end of November 2016, Don McAllister, a member of the club’s board of directors, started noticing canine tracks in the snow around the club’s building and figured someone had lost a dog.
“The tracks went around the building and under the porch,” McAllister said recently. “We started checking around if someone had lost a dog and then discovered the dog was living under the porch.”
McAllister and fellow club member Charlie Namur eventually came face to face with the male German shepherd that had made itself quite at home at the organization’s clubhouse.
No strangers to feeding guests, members and other outdoors enthusiasts in the building, McAllister said he and Namur began leaving food for the dog and eventually coaxed it inside.
“At first we could hardly get near him he was so shy,” McAllister said. “After a while we did get him into the building, but we couldn’t shut the door because he’d get awful excited if we did.”
The two men took alternate morning and afternoon shifts feeding the dog, and over time, a bond began to form among the three.
“It took almost a month for him to trust us,” McAllister said. “After awhile we could play with him, and we’d pull burdocks off of him, and he kept gaining weight, [and] he just kind of made the clubhouse his home.”
Neither men were in the position to adopt the dog, and McAllister said they knew the clubhouse was not a permanent solution for the animal, so by the start of the year, they made plans to capture it.
Working together, the two were able to get a leash on the dog and take it to the Central Aroostook Humane Society, where, thanks to social media, the German shepherd became an instant celebrity.
“We had thousands of people expressing interest in him,” Betsey Hallett, the society’s manager, said. “We got calls from all over the state and from as far as New York.”
According to Hallet, it turned out the dog — who was named Charlie in honor of one of his rescuers — had escaped from his southern Aroostook County home months ago and because of circumstances in that home, the former owner was not able to take him back.
“This is a very smart boy who lived on his own and evaded capture for a while,” Hallett said. “But those guys from the [Presque Isle] Fish and Game Club gained his trust, and even now, if one of them walks in, he just lights up.”
Despite living outside during some of the season’s coldest weather, Charlie was in very good health, Hallett said, and the dog will soon be on his way to a new home.
“He is a very sweet boy and a typical shepherd,” she said. “The first in line to adopt him is a former dog handler for border patrol who knows the breed.”
McAllister, who enjoys dogs, said he is pleased there is a happy ending for Charlie.
“He is a really kind dog,” McAllister said. “I’m glad it turned out this way and that our club could provide him a home when he needed it.”