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Dog saves owner, scares off burglars

Agnes Larson and her wheaten terrier, Clancy. The loyal dog scared off a pair of would-be robbers in Larson's Park Rapids home. Brian Basham/Forum News Service

At 65-pounds and a mop of hair, 7-year-old Clancy sleeps at the end of his master's bed every night.

"He smells really well but doesn't see very well because he has so much hair that goes right over his eyes," laughed Agnes Larson, the woman who has been Clancy's whole world since he was an 11-week-old puppy.

The soft-coated wheaten terrier has always been less of a terror and more of a shaggy-dog lover.

"He's a big push over, a baby," said Larson, who has admittedly spoils him. "He's the kind that people would think could probably lick a burglar to death."

But little did anybody know, Clancy had much more in him than people gave him credit for. One night a few weeks ago in her Park Rapids home, Larson had taken some medication and was deep asleep with her beloved dog at toe, when Clancy sensed something in the house he didn't like.

"He started growling, and even though he never does that, I still didn't think too much at first," said Larson, "but then he stood up, started to bark and then took a big leap. It must have been eight feet before he even reached the ground."

What Larson didn't realize is that a burglar was standing only about 12 feet from her bed with a crowbar he had welded a dangerous end to, and he was likely going to use it on her if she got in the way of a white envelope of cash the burglar thought she had in her dresser drawer.

"Well, I didn't have anything like that in my house," she said, "but a cleaning lady who stole from me a couple of years ago did take about $550 out of an envelope I used to have in my dresser -- money I got from a garage sale, so I suppose she thought I always kept something like this in there and told this guy about it."

"This guy" was 20-year-old Cody Hawk, and that night he and his accomplice, 18-year-old William Dunbar, were admittedly determined to get money from the elderly lady one way or another.

"They confessed to police that when the dog started barking at them, they grabbed a small butcher knife from the kitchen and were going to kill the dog first and then use their weapon on Agnes if she didn't shut up and stay in her room," said Park Rapids Police Chief Terry Eilers.

But Clancy was apparently just enough of a threat to make the duo change their minds and leave.

Larson, still groggy and unaware of what was going on, didn't fully wake up until the next morning when she came into her kitchen to find a wet floor.

"And poor Clancy, I blamed it on him and asked him, 'Did you go on the floor?'" said Larson, not realizing it was melted snow from the burglar's boots.

"But then I found this crowbar laying there and the deck door ajar and there were fresh foot prints, so I called police."

Authorities followed those tracks to an area near the town's Ace Hardware, where a surveillance camera had captured the men arriving and leaving.

"They parked right under the camera, so they weren't exactly scientists about the whole thing," said Eilers, who said the men were not only caught and charged in this incident, but will be with others as well.

"They are connected with other burglaries around Park Rapids, so we will be putting several other complaints together," said Eilers. "And while we are still investigating, we can also probably tie them with some other burglaries around the Glenwood and Alexandria area."

Eilers says Hawk and Dunbar admitted to everything, and he too says the cleaning lady arrested for theft two years ago is the person that provided the men with details. And although he says they can't charge her with anything, the other two are "in more trouble than they probably realize."

"We know they had hit several other homes of elderly people in that area, homes where she (the cleaning lady) would go in and help them with things," said Eilers, adding that since the men have been arrested, the burglaries around the area have stopped.

The men were charged with first degree burglary with what Eilers calls an unprecedented bail of $250,000 because of the dangerous element of the crime.

"Things could have turned really bad really fast," said Eilers. "That dog really was a hero."

As for Larson, she has changed her locks and is now enjoying watching others appreciate and even spoil her "hero."

"My kids never really liked Clancy because they thought he just needed too much attention, but they like him now," she said proudly, adding that the neighbors brought over a big sack of well-deserved doggie biscuits. "I know he's spoiled rotten, but it obviously doesn't hurt to spoil your dog -- not one bit!"