INWOOD — Park officials are asking rangers in Inwood Hill Park to be on high alert after a dog died suddenly after a weekend walk in the park.
They have been warned "to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary" after the 9-year-old German shepherd died mysteriously on Sunday night, hours after going on a walk through the southern stretches of Inwood Hill Park on Sunday morning.
Kevin James said nothing seemed out of the ordinary when he brought his dog, Hobbes, home from the park just before noon and left him alone in the house.
But when James returned home several hours later, the 75-pound dog was dead and showed signs of having been sick, including incontinence, vomiting and possibly seizures.
Items in the apartment had been knocked over, including a 40-pound dumbbell near the dog's body.
"I have no way of knowing what Hobbes ate, or with certainty whether it was in fact something that he ate that killed him," James said. "However all evidence points to that being by far the most likely cause."
The family decided not to pursue a necropsy. The family’s other dog, 4-year-old Luna, did not become ill.
James said Hobbes, who is said to be one of the last members of a well-known pack of wild dogs that lived in Inwood Hill, Fort Tryon and Highbridge parks, was buried earlier this week on a friend’s property in Upstate New York.
The Parks Department said there is no way of proving whether the dog's death was caused by poison in the park, but urged animal lovers to be careful while walking their pets.
"We extend our sympathy to the dog's owner on their loss, but can't confirm what may have happened," Parks spokesman Phil Abramson wrote in an email.
James said he did not notice anything unusual while walking his dogs on the park’s paths along Payson Avenue toward the Henry Hudson Highway. But he said Hobbes was a bit of a "scavenger" and could have eaten something along the way.
"He was the kind of dog who ate plants when they tasted good," James said. "But at 75 pounds, a little bit of rat poison would not have done this. It would take several pounds."
For now, the family is trying to get over the shock of the death and remember Hobbes during the good times.
"We are trying to celebrate his life," James said, adding that Hobbes was a "gentle, playful and unwaveringly loyal" dog who "had a willful intelligence, unparalleled tug-of-war skills and patience beyond measure."