April 02, 2016 - 1:00 PM
SPENT EIGHT DAYS AND NIGHTS BY OWNER'S SIDE AFTER HE DIED
KELOWNA – Shadow’s story doesn’t start the day he boarded the #11 bus and melted hearts of local bus drivers and readers in Kelowna; it starts years earlier when he first met Ezra Burr.
Ezra adopted Shadow in 2010. He already had one dog, Cleopatra, an orange-brown mix with a floppy ear, but Ezra always felt more comfortable around animals than humans.
“He was socially a bit awkward,” his older sister Chantal Burr says. “He was one of those people who would spend time with his dogs and not talk to anyone for a week or so but he loved his animals.”
Burr was just 42 when he died March 20 in his home near Mission Creek. It wasn’t until eight days later a neighbour noticed she hadn’t seen him walking his four dogs.
“He worked on the 18th and had seen friends on the Saturday but he took the following week as a vacation week,” she says. “People would have obviously noticed he wasn’t at work but he would just go through spells where he wouldn’t be around people so it wasn’t unusual not to hear from him.”
When the authorities came to his house, they found his body laying comfortably on the couch, covered with dog hair.
For eight days and nights, his four cherished dogs and a cat were trapped inside. Burr’s sister says she has no idea how the dogs stayed alive that long without food or water while his cat, four-year-old Chewy, did not.
The coroner told Chantal neither of the bodies had been bitten or chewed.
“My brother was their pack leader,” Chantal says. “They were protecting him.”
Chris Tracanelli volunteered to watch Burr's four dogs, including Shadow (pictured) while the family mourned.
Image Credit: Facebook
Chantal knows something about protecting Ezra. They lost their father to a car accident at young ages and being three years older, she assumed the role of mother.
“He was almost like my own kid,” she says. “He used to say he was damaged goods so he kind of pulled away from the family. He just thought he infected everyone around him. It was hard to get him to realize he had value. But when he would pull away, Shadow and Cleo were there for him. They were inseparable.”
In the spring of 2014 Cleo and Shadow had a litter of puppies. Together they would hike Mission Creek Park and Burr, a cabinet maker, even modified a recumbent bike with a sidecar.
“It’s literally like a big stroller and he would take them for rides,” Chantal says. “People would pull over and take pictures. He’d go through spells where he just needed to be alone but he always had his dogs.”
More than a week after he died, the dogs were taken to a veterinarian who rehydrated them and found them to be relatively good health. Shadow had chewed both his dewclaws off so he was fitted with a cone and bandaged. A co-worker of Burr’s, Chris Tracanelli, agreed to take all four while his family grieved.
“I’m a dog lover, Ezra was my friend, and these dogs were his kids,” he says. “After what they went through I couldn’t let them go to a pound. They deserve to be somewhere comfortable and warm.”
Although well looked after, Shadow was not easy to contain. He managed to jump Tracanelli’s five-foot fences twice in the first two days and again on Thursday, March 31 when he boarded a Kelowna bus and refused to leave.
A bus supervisor who took Shadow to his vet was hoping to adopt him and since the original story went public, dozens of readers have expressed interest in the dog.
But he and Cleo are both spoken for.
“Shadow and Cleo are coming here to Calgary to be our dogs,” Chantal says. “I’m not separating them. They are good dogs and he loved them all.”
As for Alyria and Mr. Bitey, the two offspring, Kelowna Transit supervisor Bill Harding says finding them a good home won’t be a problem.
“There are people here who are very attached to Shadow and they only spent five hours with him, so if he’s got puppies there are people in transit who are certainly interested in possibly adopting,” he says.
A service will be held for Ezra Burr at Mission Creek Park April 15. All four dogs will be in attendance.
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