Honey’s journey over, fame still ongoing

Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

October 22, 2013

The Wallis family of Chesterfield, Mo., isn’t one to seek out the spotlight, but after their 11-year-old golden retriever Honey was found here, 600 miles from home, the spotlight found them.

Honey was found July 8, limping and shivering, walking in the rain. An Athens Drive couple brought her to the LaGrange Animal Shelter.

“We scanned her, but didn’t find a microchip,” said Robyn Morgan, administrative assistant at the shelter.

Since honey was older and had an obvious injury, shelter workers knew the odds weren’t in her favor if she stayed in LaGrange. They called the Golden Retriever Rescue of Atlanta and Honey added some more miles to her odyssey as she went north with a volunteer.

There, Honey settled in with volunteer and foster mom, Brenda Budd. In fact, they’d just matched Honey with a new family and were preparing to insert a microchip in the first week of October when they found her old chip, said Cynthia Ring, director of dog operations with the rescue.

It apparently had floated down to around her shoulder, which is not a place where rescues and shelters check for chips.

But the chip wasn’t registered. Ring called the manufacturer who gave the rescue the veterinarian where the chip had been put in.

Honey hadn’t seen that vet in 10 years, but someone there gave the rescue numbers for veterinarians Honey’s records had been transferred to since then.

“I called the most recent number,” Ring said.

That vet was able to get in contact with the Wallis family, who produced Honey’s original microchip certificate and pictures to verify Honey was theirs. Turns out, the medicine the rescue vets had put Honey on was the exact same medicine she was on at home.

Adam Wallis says his family was thrilled to get the call.

“We’ve had Honey since she was a baby,” he said.

Although the family will never know exactly how Honey wound up so far from home, they have a theory.

Honey had been staying at Wallis’ mother’s farm with their children while Adam and Emily Wallis went on an anniversary trip. Adam believes Honey got out close to the road the farm is on and was picked up. When Honey had a seizure – she has them about once a week – whoever picked her up likely dumped her and just happened to be in LaGrange, Adam believes.

Honey was already limping before she went missing, Wallis said. She’d fallen and hurt her front leg.

“It’s amazing they found her,” he said. When they got the call she’d been found, the Wallis’ looked her up on the golden retriever rescue site and she’d been “described to a T,” he said.

Ring said without finding the chip, the rescue would have never thought to search that far away for a potential owner.

“We would have never connected the dots,” she said.

The Wallis family flew to Atlanta and rented a car to bring Honey home.

“When we pulled up at Brenda’s house, she was barking and running back and forth,” he said. “She recognized us immediately.”

A family friend notified local media in Missouri about Honey’s rescue and that’s how People magazine likely picked up the story, he said.

Ring said there’s lessons to be learned from Honey’s adventure.

“Microchips need to be registered,” she said.

It’s also very common for dogs to get spooked and run off during Forth of July celebrations.

“It’s the most popular time of year for lost dogs,” she said.

But Ring is also happy there was a reunion in Honey’s case.

“I always felt there was an owner out there,” she said.