PERU, Mass. -- Linda Murphy, her husband and their two young daughters know that nothing can bring their family pet back. Now, all they want is closure.
On Sunday, Dec. 22, the 10-month-old, 90-pound Great Pyrenees Hercules got loose and ran away from their Peru home on North Road. The family searched and searched for the puppy, but could not find him.
"On Monday night he had came back but only to the fence and refused to come to either my husband and I. Finally my husband went out to get him to only to realize he has sustained a very life-threatening injury to his mouth," Murphy told The Eagle.
It appeared the dog was shot with shotgun buckshot, tearing open the animal's jaw and piercing its tongue. She said Hercules was gasping for air.
"We had rushed him to the vet's office to only have two options: put him to sleep or drive him to Boston -- a trip that he was not likely to make," she said.
She said the vet believed Hercules had been shot, with clear entry and exit wounds in his jaw. The Murphys did not let their daughters, ages 1 and 3, see their pet, but put them in the dog's hearing range so they could say good-bye.
"We buried him on Christmas Eve," Murphy told The Eagle on Monday. "He was my daughters' protector from the dark and best friend."
On Monday night, Murphy planned to attend a regularly scheduled meeting in Peru's town hall to talk with officials about the incident. She said the family's already been working closely with town police and the animal control officer to investigate the incident.
"Everyone's being a bit more cautious around here," she said. "People are alert and being as helpful as possible."
Since creating a Facebook post about the incident, she said people from the Berkshires and beyond have shared their sympathies for the family, their outrage about what happened and their willingness to try and help figure out who the shooter or shooters might be.
Murphy says she worries.
For one matter, she has another Great Pyrenees -- Hercules sister, Maddie.
"We were only supposed to get one, but I got both dogs for Mother's Day this year," she said.
"There are some other dogs who get loose in our neighborhood. Yes, we are sad that it was our dog who died. But what if was a child, or a hunter lost in the woods or a hiker?"
Several people she's heard from suggested the shots may have come from a hunter. Though it is a legal shooting season for some animals and weapons, state law prohibits hunting on Sundays, when the incident is believed to have occurred. She said the family home is near state land, but is not in a densely wooded area.
The Eagle could not reach Peru police on Monday to see if there are any leads in the investigation.
"I'm really just looking for closure. We want to know what happened and why," said Murphy. "I still can't wrap my head around it."