If you know anything about me, you know I’m an avid
dog lover. In January, I had the pleasure of being involved
in an incredible journey. Not mine. The story belongs to a sweet
little dog named Honey. Honey brought comfort to one soldier in particular,
serving his country, overseas. Honey’s story is not unique. There are many
other furry friends out there, helping warm the hearts of service
folks far from their loved ones. And many of them are in need of
a little assistance to get home to their new families. Recently...Honey
made it home!
is laden with stories of dogs involved in war time activities, as well
as peace-keeping missions. Many are official military dogs. These incredible creatures
endure grueling training to become the extended eyes, ears and noses
of military, security, and service personnel, around the world. They
help keep humans safe and, many times, these war hero dogs, give
their lives doing so.
But there are other animals who perform
a wonderful service to folks serving their country. Dogs and cats you
rarely hear about. Little, homeless puppies. Animals…lost, hungry, alone and
scared…running in fear for their lives in the middle of a war zone! One such
dog was Honey.
was being beaten with sticks by kids in a city in the middle east.
Seeing what was happening, a local woman ran to Honey's rescue. She brought
the battered dog to a clinic where a US Army veterinarian examined and cared
for her, later performing a routine spay surgery, Worse, to find she was
in late term pregnancy. (As far as we know, the pups didn't survive.) A US
Soldier became smitten with this little dog, who he named Honey; and kept
her under his wing to keep her safe.
Honey remained with the soldier after she recovered
and found comfort with him. Little did Honey know that she was bringing so
much comfort to this soldier and his unit, as well…by
sharing her unconditional love and covering them with sloppy kisses of affection. Away
from their loved ones, dogs like Honey provide a much needed connection
to home and bring comfort to those serving their country in a foreign
Unfortunately, not being a certified military
dog means that they have no official status and cannot go home with their
soldiers. At least, not via sanctioned avenues. Enter caring and compassionate
folks who donate time, money, logistics and medical care to help these
animals make it home to the soldiers who have come to love them and their
families who want to give these love starved animals a better life.
Soldiers hoping to rescue their newly found furry
friends are put in contact with amazing people, like Bonnie Buckley.
Web sites like her Military
site help soldiers find the information and connections they need to
start the process of getting their friends cared for so they can begin the
long journey to a new home.
Honey is just one, of the many
dogs and cats who are hoping to leave their chaotic existence behind and become a loving pal to their newly adopted families in
a safer environment.
to help, donated
money, time and talents to Honey to help her make the journey. Her
soldier gave her hugs and she returned the favor with a face-full
of wet kisses…kisses she would take back to his family in the states. Anxiously,
he handed his new best friend over and hoped that she would have
a safe journey back to his waiting family. He—concerned for Honey, but
excited to be sending back a little piece of himself. His family—anxiously
waiting to welcome the animal who has given him comfort and love while
After enduring all the medical procedures to
deem her healthy and fit to travel to the US, Honey was put into a crate to face the unknown. She left
the middle east and eventually made it to the UK,
where she was required to hang out for a time. She needed to, again, be medically
approved to continue her trip into the US.
While Honey was dealing with her leg of the journey,
overseas, Bonnie and many volunteers were busy passing emails back and forth,
setting up the logistics to get Honey from point A to point B. Volunteer
runners, along the route, would drive her to the next location in her journey
from Chicago to Kentucky.
Thanks to technology and the unwavering efforts
of so many caring people—who want to return the favor to our service men
and woman, as well as help provide a better life to one deserving animal
at a time—the plans were now in place. All that was required was for Honey
to arrive in the states.
Tamara Messina, a volunteer runner for Honey’s
team, anxiously waited at the airport for Honey’s arrival. Greg
Chapman, a pilot, had volunteered to save Honey the anxiety of being
passed from one runner to another by flying her in his Cessna to her
family in Kentucky. Greg removed
the passenger seats from the plane to make way for Honey’s rather large crate.
He mapped out his flight path and passed the info
to the runners, in case the impending weather forced him down. This would
allow others to take Honey on the rest of her journey, if he could not.
did not cooperate! A winter storm moved into the Midwest
just in time to greet Honey’s arrival at the airport.
plans temporarily put on hold, due to the weather, Tamara took Honey
home, gave her a bath, dinner, and provided all the comforts and freedoms
afforded loved pets in the US. Still a little nervous, Honey humbly accepted
what was given. More emails flew as Tamara passed along updates and photos
of her time spent with the dog.
Bonnie, a former animal control officer with
a passion for dogs and cats, kept a close eye on the impending game plan.
Spending countless hours at her computer, she made sure everyone was
still in place for the rest of the adventure. She also kept Honey’s soldier
apprised of her progress, as he anxiously awaited final word of Honey's
safe arrival with his family.
Greg was still watching the weather. But it appeared
the flight would have to be canceled, as visibility was now not approved
for take-off. Disappointed and unwilling to give up, Greg informed
the team that he would just drive Honey home in his truck. Having family
Greg was familiar with most of the route and had taken it many times
back and forth with our own dogs as companions. We had the safety harnesses
to spare. This would allow Honey a more peaceful journey without having
to be passed around any further.
after taking one of our dogs, Cassy, on her obligatory coffee
run in daddy’s truck, Greg headed off to meet Tamara and Honey. All the folks
on Honey’s team were appreciative of Greg for taking on the task himself
and freely offered up their homes along the route, as rest stops and
havens for a warm meal, if needed.
Greg met up with Tamara at the assigned location.
The timid and friendly pooch was carefully handed over to Greg. He was greeted
by Honey with a face-full of gracious kisses! After a few checks to confirm
the route—they were off.
by my vet, dogs tend to shed wildly when they are nervous. And, although
Honey took to Greg and easily moved into his truck, the fur was soon
flying as Honey anxiously watched to see where this journey would
take her next!
Honey proved that she was a pleasant companion,
as she kept to herself and patiently waited further instructions from
Greg as they traveled along. Encountering a bit of a white-out snow storm
Michigan, the traffic flow slowed as they carefully carried on.
Once away from
the lake, the skies cleared. Time for a little rest stop and a chance for
Greg to get all the salts washed off his truck so he could clearly see out
his windows. Although ever weary of her surroundings, having come from a
life of chaos and cruelty, Honey enjoyed her walks and found grass to be
Unfortunately, Greg didn’t realize how the
noise of a car wash would affect the dog. As they moved through it, poor
Honey became frightened and jumped into the back seat to hide from the noise
of the water jets hitting the outside of the truck!
Greg tried to
assure her that it was okay and soon Honey was, again, relaxed as she snoozed
in the back seat of the truck for most of the rest of the journey. Only occasionally popping her head up to get some strange new sniffies
through the cracked windows.
As Greg and Honey made their way to meet up with
her new mom, Greg would stop to make update calls, which were quickly conveyed
to the rest of the team, via email. They were all anxiously going along for
the virtual ride.
trip went well; uneventful for the most part. Greg pulled up to the meeting
location with Honey’s new mom. He wished Honey well and took a last goodbye
picture of her before he passed her on to her soldier’s family; then turned
around to make the return trip back to his own home.
The soldier's family was thrilled to have Honey
home with them! And Honey, being a good little soldier in her own right,
passed along those kisses she’d been carrying with her…from her soldier…and
gave them to his wife, who happily accepted each and every one of them!
If you would like to help other animals like
Honey, so they, too, can bring home the kisses that their soldiers overseas
want to share with their families, please check out the Military Mascots
web site. There you will not only find heart-warming stories, but find
various ways that you can help support service men and woman and the
come to love.
See how well Honey has adjusted in her new home! Click HERE to read an
update, within the October Welcome article.