The Grand Rapids Press/MLive and WZZM-13 report of Shaggy, an 80-pound Newfoundland dog who roams the woods of Ada and Cascade townships, living on good fortune rather than on a leash.

So far, he has escaped the clutches of residents and Animal Control authorities who say they want to help.

According to The Press, residents say the big dog is affable and gets along with people.

The only incident recorded of Shaggy getting aggressive is when someone tried to slip a leash around his neck. ("We scorn to live in misery bound up in iron chains!")

He survives by sleeping on residents' porches and by their generosity with the food bowl.

The part of the story that made my heart feel for Shaggy is the claims by Kent County Animal Control officers that normally it takes less than a day to reel in a stray dog.

Shaggy has eluded them since June. He has smarts and is able to eat the food off their traps without being caught. And efforts to bring him down with a tranquilizer dart have been unsuccessful.

That means to me that the one thing Shaggy prizes above everything else is his freedom.

His spirit reminds me of King, a three-legged mutt that hung around my neighborhood in Saginaw when I was a kid. King was friendly and got along with everyone, but he didn't have a home, and resisted any attempt to hold him down. He avoided the dog catcher, and lived off whatever comfort the street could provide. Soon, folks were leaving out food for him and leaving their garages open for him in the winter (and in an area full of crime, this was no small sacrifice).

A GoFundMe site has sprung up, supported by local residents, to purchase a safety net to reel Shaggy in humanely. So far, it's raised close to $1,700 of the the $2,000 necessary for the net.

And while I understand there are things a stable life would give a dog like Shaggy, there's a side of me hoping he is somehow able to roam the countryside free for life. Maybe he could become a community dog that everyone just kind of looks out for, living well, but still having his freedom.

I love ya, Shaggy. Godspeed, my brother.

In the words of the immortal William Wallace of Scotland, the most important thing in life is ...