Honey, she’s home! After months at Seal Beach shelter, St. Bernard finds family in Alaska
It’s a heartwarming chapter for Honey Bear followers who have been tracking her story all year – ever since she first landed at the Seal Beach Animal Care shelter in January.
The 140-pound St. Bernard – so big she risked never finding a taker – finally has moved into her forever home.
Honey’s new address is Alaska. How perfect is that for a cold-weather dog whose ancestors originated in the Swiss Alps?
Tony and Sarah Brown welcomed 3-year-old Honey into their Fairbanks abode on Wednesday, Aug. 22. They had lost another St. Bernard, Diesel, to cancer last year.
“A friend saw Honey on Facebook and messaged me,” Sarah Brown said. “My husband said, ‘Uh, yeah, but she’s all the way in Southern California.’”
Distance didn’t stop Brown from contacting the shelter on the off chance transportation could be arranged.
As fate would have it, Honey’s biggest fan, Sunset Beach resident Rob Driscoll, is a retired pilot who worked for Alaskan Airlines. He helped get the wheels turning until it was wheels up.
A faithful shelter volunteer, Driscoll particularly doted on Honey – walking her almost daily and sometimes even taking her on a “field trip” to his Sunset Beach house.
“We wanted the minimum of stress for Honey, which meant the least amount of flying,” Driscoll said.
So he offered to escort Honey to Seattle for an Anchorage-bound flight.
On Sunday morning, Aug. 19, Honey devotees gathered at Seal Beach Animal Care for a bittersweet bon voyage. Then, off she headed to the Land of the Midnight Sun.
In Seattle, Driscoll knew the pilot and copilot, who “guaranteed they would give her extra special attention,” he said.
Not only did the airline offer Honey “a steep discount,” Driscoll said, “so many people, from the pilots to the clerks to the ground agents, went above and beyond.”
“Everybody wanted to take her home,” he said. “I thought I was never going to get out of Seattle.”
Driscoll documented the buddy road trip with photos so the shelter could continue to share Honey’s incredible journey on social media: Here’s Honey at a Motel 6 in Sacramento. Here’s Honey stretching her legs during a pit stop. Here’s Honey at the airport check-in counter, flopped on her back and waiting for someone, anyone, to give her a belly rub.
Needless to say, the posts attracted many a “heart” emoticon – and drummed up some needed donations for the mission.
Brown then greeted Honey in Anchorage and drove her the six hours to Fairbanks.
“She’s a nanny dog,” Brown said. “She follows us round. She always wants to know where everyone is.”
When they take her on walks, Honey “stops and waits for people to say hi to her,” Brown said.
“She’s like, don’t you want to admire me and pet me?” Brown said with a laugh. “I think Honey learned at the shelter to expect everyone to love her.”
Indeed, the gentle giant never wanted for affection in Seal Beach, said regular volunteer Roberta Soares.
“We’d rather have them in homes, but our dogs get so much attention,” she said.
Also, she added, the shelter strives to find good fits for its animals – not the easiest of tasks for a mega-sized pooch.
“It’s stressful for a dog to be in a shelter for a long time – but at the same time, it’s stressful for a dog to go to the wrong house or to be returned,” Soares said.
The shelter rarely gets St. Bernards, which, for obvious reasons, are not a popular breed in warm climates, Soares said.
Driscoll and his wife, June, are already planning a holiday trip to Fairbanks, where they will take Honey to local tourist attraction North Pole for Christmas card photos with Santa.
“I can’t wait to see her play in the snow,” Driscoll said. “Oh my gosh, she is going to love it.”