Gorky’s Amazing Devotion to Deputy, Davie County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The loyalty of Gorky, the big black Russian shepherd who charged into a Davie County home to face a desperate young man with a shotgun, had to warm even the most cynical heart.

Gorky was a trained police dog for the Davie County Sheriff’s Department.

Inside the house, the dog was greeted with a blast from a shotgun.

The dog’s handler, deputy Chris Fleming, struck in the face by pellets from the blast, crashed through a window to get out of the line of fire. Fleming was then mistakenly fired at by Sheriff Andy Stokes and was hit in the arm, an error the sheriff called “the most regretful thing I’ve ever done in my law enforcement career.”

The entire episode happened in seconds. The dog charged. A shotgun blast echoed. A man fell through a window. More shots. It must have been a blur.

What happened next was the greater story.

Fatally wounded, the dog limped out of the house and found Fleming. The two wounded officers — Fleming and Gorky — bled together outside the home.

“When I jumped out the window Gorky found me and stayed with me until the ambulance arrived to take me to the hospital,” Fleming recalled last week.

Dogs have been called man’s best friend. Gorky was a friend to Davie County. Just like any of the officers who wear a law enforcement badge, the dog was part of the police force and a critical weapon.

Police dogs are highly trained, skilled animals that charge where told without regard to their own safety.

“You don’t realize until something like this happens how dedicated these K-9 officers and their dogs are,” said Stokes. “If these dogs are available they’re going in first and that officer is going to be second. Had it not been for Gorky we’d be having a service for this officer, not his canine.”

Rest in Peace, Gorky. Well done.

• • • •

It’s almost enough to make me convert to Methodism. On Sunday, Feb. 9, at 2 p.m., Centenary United Methodist Church, 646 W. 5th St., Winston-Salem, will show “The Searchers,” in the church’s Memorial Auditorium. The movie is free and is part of the church’s Faith & Film Series. Depending on which Best 10 Western Movies list you see, “The Searchers,” released in 1956 by director John Ford and starring John Wayne and a young Natalie Wood, is considered by some as the best Western ever.

• • • •

On a lark, I drove Elizabeth out to the rural community of Whynot on Sunday. It’s a couple miles off I-73 in Randolph County east of Seagrove. I was last there 20 years ago. Since then, there has been lots of growth — mostly pottery shops. They’re everywhere. Residents seem to warmly embrace the community’s unusual name. We saw Whynot United Methodist Church and Whynot Pottery and took our photo under the Whynot sign.

It seemed like the thing to do. Why not?

• • • •

We watched a hundred cedar waxwings devour the tiny berries on a cedar tree on Saturday. They spent most of the day feasting on the tree. Cedar berries don’t seem appetizing to me, but the birds seemed happy with them.

Cedar waxwings are elegant birds — with a tuft atop their heads and a black mask over their eyes. They must have been on their way to somewhere else. They also make pigs of themselves over holly berries.

— Dwight Sparks