David Daniels was known as a tough sucker during his years as a Payson High School football, wrestling and baseball star.
He showed that same type of mental and physical toughness as a college baseball pitcher and a rodeo cowboy.
But when it comes to his dog, David — now an Arizona Game and Fish officer — obviously has a softer, gentler side.
It’s that care and compassion David had for his 8-year-old black Labrador retriever, Abby, that makes her death so difficult to deal with.
David says his wife and three children are also grieving because Abby’s death was not only unexpected, but also traumatic.
“My family is emotionally devastated,” said David. “Abby wasn’t ‘just a dog’.”
Most difficult about the dog’s death is that she didn’t die peacefully at a ripe old age.
The beloved companion died after being shot in the chest by an unknown assailant armed with a lethal pellet gun.
David believes Abby was probably shot in late December, but at the time he didn’t realize what had occurred. Weeks later, he became concerned over the dog’s health after feeling a lump in Abby’s side.
So, he took the pet to a veterinarian who diagnosed the dog as having some type of infection and as a remedy prescribed antibiotics.
But Abby’s health didn’t improve — she stopped eating, had trouble breathing and was obviously in considerable pain.
Realizing the dog was suffering, David took the pet back to the veterinarian who this time ordered X-rays, which revealed a pellet lodged deep in one of Abby’s lungs.
The pellet had caused the lung to fill with fluid, which, David said, was the cause of the difficulty in breathing.
The vet drained about two liters of fluid from Abby’s lungs — a procedure David hoped would be the cure he and his family were praying for.
But after even more suffering, the pet died.
With Abby’s death, David fondly remembers the love and affection the pet brought into the family’s life, and is equally aware that his wife and children are grieving.
But he is also angry and upset that someone would be so cruel and ruthless as to shoot the family’s beloved pet.
For now, David’s hope is to find the assailant, but to identify the person he’ll need help from neighbors and others who might have been passing through the Upper Round Valley area.
David and his family live on Sapphire Lane and he believes the dog was ambushed somewhere near there.
David is asking anyone who has knowledge of the shooting to e-mail the information to him at Zanahan1524@yahoo.com or call Max Foster at (928) 474-5242, ext. 114.
Any information can be kept confidential.