Tuesday, March 11, 2014
PEABODY, Mass. — Alberto Carva watched in horror as his hunting dog Brownie thrashed and yelped, his front leg caught in the jaws of a coyote trap in the Maine woods.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer As he told his tale Thursday, Alberto Carva had trouble talking and frequently raised both hands to his forehead as he described trying to help free his dog from a coyote trap, then having to make the painful decision to kill his animal.
Alberto Carva of Peabody, Mass., says his head is still filled with the horrifying images of his dog, Brownie, thrashing in a coyote trap.
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
As the 84-year-old Portuguese immigrant leaned in to release the trap, his terrified dog lashed out, biting holes in his left arm and one of his legs. Carva lay on him, trying to use his weight to immobilize the animal.
Then Brownie, a mix of beagle and Podengo, a Portuguese hunting breed, latched on to Carva’s right hand and whipped his head back and forth, causing blood to erupt from the base of Carva’s thumb.
“I try to open his mouth. I try ... I try ... I try. No. He no let go,” Carva said through tears as he recounted last week’s ordeal in Newfield, Maine, that almost cost him his hand.
He couldn’t free his hand from the dog’s mouth and feared he would die from the loss of blood.
Carva, who has been visiting Maine for years to hunt snowshoe rabbits, grabbed for his shotgun with his left hand. He angled the barrel toward the tan, stocky dog and squeezed the trigger. The gun fired lead shot but had no effect. Amid all the blood and terror, he had missed.
Desperate and in agony, he braced the barrel against the animal’s head and pulled the trigger again. Instantly, Brownie went limp.
“I have to shoot him,” he said softly. “I have to do it.”
Carva had set out from his apartment in an elderly-housing complex in Peabody between 5 and 6 a.m. on Oct. 24. He picked up his dogs, Brownie and Dorado, along with his friend’s dog, Pirata. Since he and his wife moved into Peabody Manor, where they can’t have dogs, his friend Louis Adelino has looked after them.
“He’s crazy for hunting – rabbit hunting,” said Adelino, who remembers going to New Bedford with Carva, who paid $5,000 for a hunting dog that would not only flush out game, but also track down and retrieve injured animals. “He always had the best dogs he could find.”
After last week’s incident, “I went to the hospital to see him and the guy just had tears running down his face when he was telling me what he had to do to get out of the situation,” Adelino said.
Brownie wasn’t yet a prize dog. He was just 4 years old and still learning.
Carva has been hunting rabbits since he was 14, in Portugal, and it has been an important part of his life.
Around 1950, he joined his brother in Angola and hunted big game. He still has a scar on his stomach where a cape buffalo gored him and tossed him 20 feet in the air.
It was in southern Africa that he met his wife, Maria, who was visiting family. They had two sons, eventually returned to Lisbon and then emigrated to the United States, where he started a small paving company in Massachusetts.
Hunting was always his refuge, one that would grow more important as his family was hit with repeated tragedies.
His son Carlos broke his neck when he dived into Canobie Lake in New Hampshire and hit the bottom. Paralyzed, he needed constant care. He died about five years ago.
Carva’s son Anthony was breaking up a fight in New Hampshire when he was accidentally shot and killed.
And Carva was diagnosed recently with a head and neck cancer. He gets radiation treatment and has lost hearing in one ear. He has lost many of his teeth and cannot eat, taking liquid supplements through a port in his stomach.
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