Dog finds way from Texas to Brewton

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shady may have been destined to have a home with the Wilson family.

Once a stray who found her way to their yard, she has made her way home several times, with the most dramatic happy ending coming Sunday, when the German shepherd mix landed at the Brewton Airport after an unknown odyssey that took her to Texas.

“I’m still blown away by it,” owner Jodie Wilson said.

Shady came to live with the Wilsons a few years ago, when she turned up in the yard of a neighbor and took to the Wilson family.

Not long after, she was picked up by animal control officers along with some stray dogs in the neighborhood.

“My kids were devastated,” Wilson said.

So Wilson drove to the Escambia County Humane Society’s animal shelter to pay the money to adopt Shady; part of the fee included spaying and getting Shady implanted with a microchip that would contain information about her owners.

That second procedure is what helped bring Shady back to her family last week.

“She went missing in January,” Wilson recalled.

The family searched for her for days.

“We feared the worst, so we tried to put it in the past and move on,” she said.

Wilson’s children remained on the lookout for their beloved dog, seeking detours whenever possible to see if Shady was down a side street or in another neighborhood.

But on March 5, Wilson received a strange phone call from a woman who said she had found the dog at a flea market — in Brownsville, Texas.

“I said, ‘Excuse me?’” Wilson recalled.

The woman on the phone had found Shady and called the phone number on her tag. But as Wilson spent a day trying to figure out how to get Shady back home, she ran away from her temporary home.

The next phone call, a few days later, came from another man who had found Shady. Wilson, who by now remembered that Shady was microchipped, asked him to take her to a shelter.

On March 12, the Brownsville Animal Regulation and Care Center called — they had the dog, and would keep her until she could get back home.

As the Wilsons were trying again to figure out how to get Shady from Texas, a group of volunteers in Brownsville and beyond were organizing a network to help.

Brownsville shelter supervisor Nellie Zamora sent out one email, Wilson said, and “it just escalated from there.”

Volunteers with Pilots N Paws, a dog rescue organization, stepped up to help find someone to fly Shady home. A volunteer with Cats Cradle — a cat rescue — put Shady up for one night during part of her journey. Another pilot put up $100 for fuel. The shelter even donated a crate, and the city of Brownsville paid for Shady’s health bills.

“It just kept going, and more people got involved,” Wilson said. “There were so many hands that touched this dog on her big adventure.”

The night before she left Texas, the woman who kept Shady overnight put the family on speaker phone so that the dog could hear their voices.

“She said her tail just went to wagging,” Wilson said.

On Sunday, pilot Danny Ritter, a volunteer with Pilots N Paws, flew Shady from Houston to Brewton.

“She walked out on the wing and saw us, and she was so happy,” Wilson said.

The family will never know how Shady made her long journey to Texas, but Wilson said they will never forget those who helped her get home.

“The people that have rescued her are her guardian angels,” she said.