The River Shaman

Elizabeth Bell, a former Patrick County resident, is pictured with Shaman. He now is a Hospice Pet Therapy Dog. (Photo contributed by Roy Jones)

A former Patrick County resident, Elizabeth Bell, heard a little puppy crying one evening, according to Roy Jones.

She investigated and found the cries were coming from across the river from her house. It was obvious the puppy was by itself and scared, Jones said.

Bell wondered what she could do, considering it was dark, cold and there was the river between them, he said.

All she could do was talk to the little puppy and try to keep it from being scared and hopefully, keep predators from getting to it, Jones said.  Bell spent the night huddled in her pajamas and robe on the bank of the river talking to the puppy.

As dawn arrived the puppy could see the person who had kept him company through the dark, scary night, Jones said. He jumped into the river and swam across to her, and Bell reached down, lifted him out of the water and into a wonderful home and life.

Later she learned there were four puppies dumped that night and all of them found loving homes, Jones said.

Elizabeth named the puppy “The River Shaman.” He shared her homes with two cats and enjoyed watching the raccoon that came each night to get food and water Bell left on the porch for it.  He went everywhere with Bell, including trips to Norfolk, Jones said.

Fast forward four and a half years: Bell has cancer and is living in an apartment in Charlottesville under Hospice care. Of course, Shaman is with her during her final days, Jones said.

“Now it was time for Shaman to be the one keeping watch over Elizabeth during her dark time.  He did it well.  He did it so well it was suggested he be trained to be a Hospice Pet Therapy Dog,” Jones said.

After he is trained, Shaman will be able to extend Bell’s influence to future Hospice patients, continuing her helping hand to others, the way she lived her life, Jones said.


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