Mosby’s Story

The first of the two reversals in fortune that framed Mosby’s life occurred early on a morning in June 1997. At this time a callous and irresponsible person abandoned a puppy by the railroad tracks at a station in Florida. Terrified and confused, the puppy took refuge under a parked car near the tracks. Fortunately, as an Amtrack train groaned to a stop, the puppy fought off the impulse to bolt and run. For fifteen feet away, on the unpredictable hinge of fate, a door opened through which passed Carole Adams. Carole was on her way to Boca Raton to close out the condominium of her parents who had recently passed away. To ease the sadness of her trip, Carole decided to detrain in Dade City, FL to visit some family members. Thus fate, by its incomprehensible manipulation of time and space, put Carole within fifteen feet of the terrified puppy who later would be known as Mosby. At that moment, two souls became instantaneous winners in the lottery called life. Mosby won life-time rights to the greatest home he could ever have asked for and Carole won the love of her life.

On July 4, 1997 Mosby settled into his new home, a simple rustic cabin that was surrounded by the mountains of Marble Valley in western Virginia. His new family consisted of his savior Carole, a handful of canines, a pair of felines, half a dozen equines, dozens of ovine and one old grouch, Carole’s husband.

As dogs are known to do, Mosby was constantly reminded by his new canine brothers and sisters that he defined the bottom of the pecking order. But Mosby didn’t mind simply because, as all who knew him would quickly discover, he was devoid of any sense of social order. He simply loved and respected every creature that he met, be it two legged or four. His creed seemed to be that any mammal blessed with that spark called life is inherently good. What a romantic! He knew he had been given a second chance at life and he was going to make the most of it. Mosby had no time for rivalry, petty jealousies, bickering and the like. Shameless love was his game.

It was quickly obvious to all members of his extended family that Mosby possessed special social skills. Even his ewe sisters did not mind his presence. During lambing season the ewes granted Mosby free access to the lambing pens. They knew the worst they or their lambs could expect from this Malamute/Husky mix was a sloppy wet kiss in the face.

For years deer had been grazing in the back yard of Mosby’s home but would scatter at the hint of a dog in the area. But this was not the case with Mosby. If Mosby happened to be sunning himself where the deer wanted to graze, they simply stepped around him. Again, they knew their biggest threat was a sloppy kiss attack. It was not unusual to see Mosby napping in the back yard and surrounded by a dozen deer. Peaceful co-existence was a way of life with him.

Donkeys as a rule do not tolerate the presence of dogs. But this was not the case with Mosby and his equine brothers and sisters. They too quickly recognized his benevolent saintly qualities. The donkeys not only tolerated his presence, they welcomed it. Often as Mosby approached the group, each in turn would lower his or her head to receive one of Mosby’s famous kisses. The traditional donkey-dog tension was nonexistent with that combination. Once again Mosby took a behavioral norm and stood it on its head.

When Mosby was about two years old, Carole began to take him to work with her at Sue’s gift shop in downtown Staunton. Mosby now had a new world to conquer with his charm: the world of people. Five days a week, like the Man of LaMancha, he rode into town to pursue his impossible dream, to love and be loved by all he met. It was a rare event indeed when a customer, upon seeing Mosby stretched out on the floor like a fluffy speed bump, could resist the urge to stop and pet him. By now Mosby was a hundred pound fluffy pillow with a multicolored coat of long fine hair comparable only to that of the finest cashmere. To one end of the “pillow” was attached a handsome face accented by a constant impish smile and blue/brown soulful eyes. To the other end of the “pillow” was attached a long, thick luxurious white tail. He was the perfect poster boy for the virtues of hybrid vigor. Mosby would never have won “Best In Class” at Madison Square Garden, but many would argue he was the class of any of the Garden’s best.

Thus physically and emotionally blessed, Mosby began his adventure into the world of people. He showered love and kisses on all he met. From babies to the elderly, from the disadvantaged to the social kingpins, Mosby was shamless in his love for one and all.

Mosby’s home away from home, Staunton, is well known for its picturesque well preserved historic district. Since North-South Interstate 81 and East-West Interstate 64 intersect in Staunton, the town is a natural rest stop for the motoring public. Tourists who happened to stop by Sue’s shop often planned their return trip to include another “Mosby moment.” If the tourists had children, the return for a “Mosby moment” was often mandatory. Many a poor parent had the burden of explaining to their child or children why they couldn’t take Mosby home with them.

Mosby could warm anyone’s heart. This was no less true for the men who happened by. One scene was often repeated over the years. As Mosby greeted the men who came into the shop, most would respond with a manly hug of the big dog. Mosby, of course, would respond like Mount St. Helens, spewing forth love and kisses for his new found best friend. The object of Mosby’s affection would often explain with manly pride to the audience of this performance how he had always had a magical way with dogs. Those in the audience that knew Mosby politely held their smiles until the man left. Shucks, everyone knew Mosby would have done the same for Mephistopheles himself.

Thanks to Big Pete, a retired native New Yorker, not only were the patrons of the gift shop exposed to Mosby’s charm but also scores of other merchants, bankers and citizens of Staunton. Part of Big Pete’s routine was to stop by his daughter Sue’s shop, have a cup of coffee or two, discuss a few of the world’s problems, and then visit other members of the downtown community. Somewhere along the way Big Pete and Mosby formed a bond of mutual admiration. The two made quite a pair: Big Pete the experienced, crusty, no nonsense New Yorker and Mosby, the romantic, the innocent kid from the country. They cruised downtown Staunton in their perfectly symbiotic dance. Sometimes they took an elevator ride to the top floor to pay the bank President a visit. More often they stopped by the commercial loan department to visit with Phyllis. Mosby knew she kept dog cookies in her desk drawer just for him. What a nice lady, he thought. If Mosby was thirsty, he and Big Pete paraded around the corner to Chuck’s shop. Chuck, in the true spirit of Southern hospitality had given Mosby his own water bowl with his name on it. Chuck is a true Virgina gentleman, Mosby thought. The kid from the wrong side of the tracks was on the top of the world. Life was good. People were good.

Being blessed with such an easygoing nature, Mosby was a natural candidate for pet therapy dog training. So no one was surprised when after eight weeks of training with Carole, Mosby became a certified pet therapy dog. Mosby embraced this new responsibility with gusto. Working as a team, mostly on Thursdays, Carole and Mosby would visit one of the local nursing homes. It was truly amazing to see this hundred pound dog work his gentle magic on weak, frail and lonely senior citizens. For many Mosby provided a bright warm respite from an otherwise uneventful existence. To many Thursday night was “Mosby night.”

The kid from the wrong side of the tracks had evolved into Staunton’s unofficial Ambassador of Goodwill. No creature loved life more than Mosby.

On the unpredictable hinge of fate, the door slammed shut on Mosby’s idyllic life. A blast of buckshot from fifteen feet destroyed the face of one of God’s most beautiful creatures. The manipulations of time and space that put Mosby within fifteen feet of his murderer are as incomprehensible as the combination of events that put Mosby within fifteen feet of his savior six years earlier. Fate is fickle.

Mosby’s senseless death on August 8, 2003 and the resulting public outrage became a national story. Thanks to the power of the news media, it became clear that his death was much more than an isolated family tragedy. From articles in the local Staunton and Waynesboro papers, Mosby’s story spread to Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Richmond and Washington, DC television stations. From the Washington Post articles, MS-NBC’s Keith Olbermann made the Mosby murder and the resultant public outcry a number one story on his “Countdown” program. From the Richmond Times Dispatch article, Mosby’s story hit the Associated Press wire service and generated news articles from Virginia to Florida to California. A trucker returning to Virginia saw the story on a Cleveland, Ohio television station. People Magazine, with the largest circulation of any weekly magazine in the US, sent a writer and photographer to Staunton to do a feature story on the murder of Mosby. A Pulitzer Prize winning photographer for the Washington Post did an internet accessible photo tribute to Mosby.

The heartwarming public response to Mosby’s death came in so many special ways. A neighbor’s children sent Carole their crayon tribute to Mosby. A business man from North Carolina took time from his hectic schedule to write a poetic tribute to Mosby. A most wonderful gentleman from Paris, France sent many letters of condolence, including one on the first anniversary of Mosby’s death. Who can forget the stranger from the Washington, DC area who was so enraged by the Mosby story in the Washington Post he immediately drove the 150 miles to Staunton and contributed $500 to The Mosby Fund. To help in the healing process, a dog breeder from Waynesboro offered Carole the pick of any of the several litters the breeder was expecting.

Many kindhearted people sent money as well as cards and letters. The money has been used to assist in the medical treatment of rescued dogs. So far this Fund has saved several dogs from certain euthanasia. Each of them is now in loving and permanent homes. The Charlottesville SPCA alerted Carole to a wonderful mixed breed dog who tested positive for heartworm. The Mosby Fund paid for the treatment and the dog is now healthy and placed with Central Virginia All Breed Rescue.

In February 2004 the man who shot Mosby was tried and convicted by a jury of his peers of Felony Animal Cruelty. He was fined $1,500 but received no jail time. With respect to Virginia Law, the felony conviction was precedent setting. Within hours of the conviction, Fox News and MS-NBC News ran the story of the conviction nationally. There is some comfort in knowing that Mosby’s death and the resultant public outcry demonstrated that most people have zero tolerance for anyone who acts with cruelty and malice towards companion animals.

To insure that Mosby’s legacy of kindness and compassion to all he met endures, Carole and friends have established “The Mosby Foundation”. The purpose of The Foundation is to raise money by contributions from like-minded souls for the purpose of giving rescued, sick, injured, neglected or abused dogs the second chance in life that Mosby was given. Mosby’s second chance life touched so many people in such a positive way. Surely there are other such angels out there in need of a helping hand.

-The Old Grouch


One can get a quick sampling of the public’s response to the murder of Mosby by doing an internet search on sites such as Google. Several combinations of words will work, such as “Mosby dog Coleman felony” or “Mosby dog Staunton” or “Mosby dog Deerfield”