It's called a "heart shot," a term familiar to hunters, but not to most folks in Wallingford. That changed Wednesday, when someone with...

Share story

It’s called a “heart shot,” a term familiar to hunters, but not to most folks in Wallingford.

That changed Wednesday, when someone with a bow and arrow took a “heart shot” at Conan, a 7-year-old mastiff owned by Liam and Amanda O’Hara.The razor-tipped arrow sunk 8 inches into Conan’s chest. He was in his pen on the side of the house when it happened sometime before dawn.

Liam O’Hara found Conan in the backyard; the dog had squeezed through a hole in the pen fence, bending the arrow.

“We think he was running for his life,” Amanda said.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

They also found three arrow holes in the dog door and an arrow in the side of the house.

The O’Haras loaded the 150-pound dog into their minivan and drove to an emergency veterinary clinic in Lynnwood. Conan survived surgery but died Thursday morning after a piece of razor from the arrow broke off inside him, causing internal bleeding.

We’re struggling with some hard truths and tough losses these days. And this … . A vulnerable animal is barbarically murdered in his home pen. What kind of creature walks around Wallingford with a bow and razor-tipped arrows?

I went to the house the other day to offer my condolences not only to the O’Haras, but to Jezebell, their other mastiff. She was there when Conan was shot. Liam found her cowering in the corner of the pen.

We stood outside the house, the O’Haras, my son and me, looked at the ground, and listened to Jezebell’s short, leaden barks from inside.

When she came out to meet us, she kept her tail tucked between her legs. I looked long into her brown eyes and wondered what she had seen.

Seattle Animal Control thinks someone stood on one of the logs outside the dog pen, or on a car or nearby roof, to make the shot. Seattle police detectives are investigating.

“Nobody, no living thing deserves this,” Liam said. “Conan did nothing wrong.”

Mastiffs are good-natured guard dogs. Conan let kids ride his back like a pony, and took to agility training.

“He loved having something to do,” Liam said.

And he loved the O’Haras.

The day they brought their daughter Lilah home from the hospital two years ago, Conan followed them from room to room. He always set his head on Amanda’s leg while she held the baby. Same with their 11-month-old son, Ronan.

He waited always patiently when Amanda mixed the dogs’ food. Now Amanda makes just one bowl for Jezebell.

“She’s definitely mourning,” Amanda said of the dog. “I gave her a bath last night and we had a heart to heart.”

She started to cry. My son and I looked at the ground.

The Seattle Animal Shelter is offering a $2,500 reward for information, and on Friday at 7 p.m., the Mosaic Coffee House, 4401 Second Ave. N.E., will hold a memorial for Conan.

Before cremating Conan, the vet took one of his paw prints, in clay. The O’Haras will put it with the cards and flowers that neighbors have sent.

And they will continue to wonder who did this — who took the “heart shot” that broke some hearts, too.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

She is still shaking her head.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.