For the Love of DogsPublished 3:45pm Monday, August 12, 2013
As they waited for the taxi, they were asked to help a rescue dog get home to its new owner near Northfield, Minn. It’s part of a pet adoption program, a partnership between the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort and the Humane Society of St. Thomas.
The sisters didn’t exactly jump at the chance to help, at first.
“We just said no,” Shelly (Saxton) Kapphahn said, mostly because they knew you’re not supposed to bring items like plants, fruits or animals of any kind from a vacation in another country. “We were very skeptical at first.”
But her sister Tammy (Saxton) Sheldon did some research before their trip and remembered that American Airlines transports rescue pets, free of charge, to any destination if they’re accompanied by a traveler.
So that’s how the sisters were on board to help bring the Germand sheperd mix Lovengo to her new home when they flew back to Minnesota after their vacation.
“And then it turned into a nightmare,” Kapphahn said.
Even though it was all worth it in the end, the three sisters and a dog didn’t exactly have a smooth journey home. They were scheduled to fly into Minneapolis on American Airlines. So if they took the dog back with them, what could go wrong?
Well, for starters, their flight was scheduled April 16, which turned out to be the American Airlines power outage. They managed to get to Miami, but all the flights were canceled once they got there. So the sisters and the dog, peeking out of the pet carrier on top of their luggage pile, were stranded travelers.
The dog turned out to be a “little good luck charm” as they went to the front of the line for Delta, but the airline charges for traveling pets.
“Having her actually was a blessing,” Kapphahn said.
Sheldon ended up paying $250 out of her own pocket, and they had a flight… leaving in 23 hours. They joined the hundreds of other travelers and slept on cots at the Miami Airport, but luckily there was a pet area outside so Lovengo could get some exercise.
Being seasoned pet owners, Sheldon and Deborah Stoks had no trouble taking care of the dog, cuddling her and showing her love.
“She was a good dog,” Kapphahn said. “She was just so accommodating.”
Though a little later than expected, new dog owner Chelsea Hatfield was reunited with her dog at 10:30 p.m. at baggage claim at the Minneapolis airport.
“I couldn’t thank those ladies enough,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield was in St. Thomas three weeks earlier and fell in love with the dog, named “Scout” at that time. She wasn’t able to take the dog home because she had reservations on a different airline, plus it was still too cold in Minnesota for the dog. Hatfield was very excited, thankful and happy that the sisters decided to help bring Lovengo home.
“Oh gosh, it was such an ordeal just to get the dog back here,” Hatfield said. “I felt really bad. It was just a disaster, but it was well worth every bit of it. It’s really nice to know that there’s people out there that are willing to help others out like that.”
After the long adventure, Kapphahn said it was all worth it. But would they do something like this again?
“Absolutely,” Kapphahn said.