In an age when privacy melts away with each picture upload and status update, life's simple acts broadcast over the web can touch a worldwide audience.
How else could a stray dog who lived for years in the woods between a Sonic and a Waffle House in West Columbia gain fans from Europe and Asia, and turn the University of South Carolina webmaster who adopted the mutt into an Internet celebrity?
Shaggy, a 6- or 7-year-old light-haired dog with a long nose and dark soulful eyes, was saved by social media. Her rescue was coordinated on Facebook, promoted on Ustream and feted on Twitter and YouTube.
A tire store employee, Manuela Schafer, was frustrated in her attempts to capture Shaggy for years and asked for help in late December from a California animal rescuer, Eldad Hagar, who has 82,000 Facebook followers.
"She had been terrified, chased and hurt," Schafer said of Shaggy.
After Hagar's advice to Schafer -- to lure the dog with food -- failed, the animal rescuer traveled cross-country two weeks ago and put out a call on Facebook for 40 volunteers to help collar Shaggy.
People came from as far away as Raleigh -- more than three hours away from West Columbia -- to gather at dawn on the chilly morning on Jan. 20 to help a stray dog on Platts Spring Road.
"Eldad is a hero of mine," said Angela Hardin, a mother of two from Gastonia, N.C., who came to South Carolina with her 12-year-old daughter. "When he said he was coming to the Carolinas, I had to go. We had no idea what they wanted us to do, but if I had to crawl through whatever, I would have done it."
The hunt took two hours and was one of the toughest in Hagar's nearly five years of rescuing animals because of the heavily wooded terrain.
Another problem: Shaggy's matted fur was so thick that the needle on a tranquilizer dart did not reach her skin, Hagar said. So volunteers created a long wall with $800 in tarp to keep the dog from escaping while Hagar cornered Shaggy.
Schafer finally was able to pet the stray that she followed for years. "She was pitiful," she said. "I just cried."
After getting her out of the woods, Hagar aired daily live streaming online videos of Shaggy from his Lexington County hotel room, providing updates on her condition and answering viewers' questions. Thousands of people worldwide watched the dog's first days of recovery after years in the wild.
"She was sleeping like 90 percent of the time," Hagar said.
One of those early-morning volunteers, a follower of Hagar on Facebook for six months, fell in love with Shaggy after watching the videos. Her adoption interview, in the hotel room with dog and rescuer a week ago, was captured on Shaggy's live online feed so people learned her name.
Patty Hall became a hero to Shaggy's fans.
Since the adoption last weekend, hundreds of people -- from the Southeast United States to Southeast Asia -- have asked to become Hall's Facebook friend. Many sent emails with congratulations and shared their pet-rescue stories.
"I was in situations where I rescued dogs from the streets and took them to shelters. Then, I started following Shaggy, and I could not stop watching," wrote a man from Albania. "Whenever I see a stray dog ... I now remember Shaggy Ann. Eldad did a great job and you are guaranteeing that this work continues. Please give her a kiss from me!"
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