Man's best friend is known for his loyalty and devotion. It's been chronicled over the years in books, films, poetry and personal accounts that often bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat.
There's something deeply personal about the allegiance a dog has to someone he loves. The bond is palpable. It is often unbreakable. Loyalty seems to be as much a part of a dog's make up as a wet nose or wagging tail.
Even more touching can be the visible bond animals sometimes form with one another, as seen recently when a homeless dog, now named Brando, was found guarding the body of another dog who'd been hit by a car.
It's unknown if the dog killed after being hit by an automobile near Highway 78 on Mountain Industrial Blvd was related to Brando or was just a favored canine pal.
Even after the injured dog had perished, Brando, a sizable and solid Great Dane/mastiff/pit bull mix, stood over the body and refused to budge despite traffic, noise and the inevitability that his friend was gone.
Brando was spotted that day by a DeKalb County employee who grew concerned when she noticed a large male dog, standing too near the road, hovering over another dog.
She stopped her car but was afraid to approach. The larger dog was protecting the other animal, who wasn't moving at all.
She immediately called Jessica Rock, Deputy Chief of the Special Victim's Unit of the DeKalb County Solicitor's Office. Rock, who has successfully prosecuted animal cruelty cases in DeKalb since 2004, was hopeful that one or both dogs could be saved. She called on Sgt. Tim Medlin of the DeKalb Police Department for help.
Medlin, who works in tandem with DeKalb Animal Services, jumped into action. He quickly picked up a female kennel employee and they rushed to the scene, where they found Brando sitting by his motionless companion.
"He was obviously guarding his deceased friend," Medlin said. "He would get upset when we got too near. He would run away from us but then run right back to the body. He didn't want to leave his friend. You could tell there was a bond between them."
Catching the agitated Brando wasn't easy. It took some time and careful maneuvering but once they got him back to the shelter his protective aggression abated.
"Once we got him back here," Medlin said, "he was great."
In the meantime, Rock had been making calls trying to find a home for Brando or a rescue that would pull him from the DeKalb animal shelter.
She found that rescue when she called Rebecca Guinn, executive director of LifeLine Animal Project.
Guinn immediately agreed to accept Brando into the Avondale Estates no-kill shelter and he was taken to live in LifeLine's Dog House. He's now up for adoption.
Brando is about 2 years old and weighs close to 80 pounds.
"He's sweet, goofy and lovable," said Dan Oman, who works in the Dog House and helps take care of Brando, "but he's a strong dog and needs to have an owner who can handle him."
"He's a handsome, intelligent boy," said Debbie Setzer, LifeLine's community outreach director. "We think he's the kind of dog who would do well in a home with no children."
Brando is leash-trained and house-trained and LifeLine has given him all his vaccinations, micro chipped him and declared him healthy and ready for a new home.
When Rock reached out to LifeLine she was hoping for a good outcome to the story of the stray dog who lost his only friend.
"It makes me happy if we can help make a happy ending," she said.
If you want to adopt or meet Brando or want more information please contact adoptions@LifeLineAnimal.org.