Icon Icon
Pilots N Paws

Heidi’s Incredible Journey Home to Jim!

Share This Story!

From Volunteer Coordinator Extraordinaire Liz: Heidi’s Story

“Back in March, Jim took Heidi for a walk outside of his home in Phoenix.. Heidi took off after a rabbit and was never found.

Heidi the bunny chaser!

Fast forward to a month ago: GSP Rescue of PA received a call from a desperate ‘owner’ of a 13 year old dog ‘Pooch’ that was a stray she had ‘found’ in Phoenix and loved so much she had to bring her home to Pennsylvania  She had ‘rescued” Pooch, but Pooch HATES (and will eat) her 5 cats. She has to find placement RIGHT NOW or the dog goes to the shelter.

In rescue fashion, a volunteer met “Pooch”, a surrender form was signed, and the scramble commenced for a 13 year old dog. Imagine their surprise when they scanned ‘Pooch’ for a microchip and it pinged!

The chip was traced back to the Phoenix Humane Society, where back in 2004 they had offered a microchip clinic.. they would chip owners dogs, but then hand them a piece of paper and instruct the owners to register.. well Jim (remember Jim?) he had forgotten. Tacey, a tireless worker at Phoenix Humane.. went through REAMS of documents (prior to computers) to find that Pooch belonged to Jim and through her 12 hours of searching, was finally able to find him!!  Pooch was Heidi, his lost dog from 6 months earlier!

Poor Jim couldn’t believe that HEIDI was not only found, but found in Pennsylvania!!

Heidi just hoping to get home again!

OK, so now what???

Holy cow..
Once again, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to the Pilots with PilotsNPaws. There were SO many pilots that answered the call to assist.. and so many folks offering Heidi safe haven, that I want to call ALL of them heroes here. Our leading cast however:

Pilot Scott who was wheels up in Maryland at 6:00am to find the airfield outside of Philadelphia fogged in.. who circled for TWO HOURS before he was able to finally land and get Heidi. Meanwhile, this delay and his dedication saved this mission.
Because our pilots in the midwest reported a line of thunderstorms that kept them grounded (oy)

Our second leg pilot, Pilot Tom, was immediately notified.. while he informed me that fog in Indy kept him socked in too! I kept him on the ground while we scrambled to find a ‘shot in the dark’ because now, I can’t get a hold of poor Scott who’s STILL circling.

OK, plan in place.. thanks to Pilot Dave who happens to have family in Indy.. they will take Heidi in if need be and keep her overnight or if he makes it out to Indy and back to St. Louis, he will keep her and we’ll continue ‘tomorrow’

(now here’s where I interject in the story to say that EVERY last pilot west of Indy on the original run said that they would clear the books for Sunday, Pilot Bill was even willing to stay in Kansas an extra night!!! But this would delay Heidi’s arrival in Phoenix until Monday because of the weather in Arizona) SO…. caffeine now kicking in, I look at my ‘book':

I called Pilot Cary because by now, the weather looked to be breaking up west of Indy and asked him what the chances were that he could take Heidi west if the weather cleared (which would give us back 2 hours) Pilot Cary in the never ending generosity of the Pilots said “if you can land her here after 2:00pmEDT, I can pinch hit and fly”

Pilot Tom and Heidi returned to Indy and landed at EXACTLY 2:06!! Because of the delay with the fog.. it just happened. (can you believe it??)

So, Pilot Cary flies west to meet Pilot Dave (who was originally flying east) and Pilot Dave heads west to pick up the missing leg and bring Heidi in to meet Pilot Terry which was the final leg for Saturday.

Pilot Bill flew all the way in from Phoenix to meet Heidi and Terry in Liberal, who has now landed well after dark. Bill and Heidi enjoyed the accommodations of the area hotel and shared a pizza for dinner :)

Sunday morning, after a brief weather delay.. Pilot Bill and Heidi were wheels up to Phoenix and the most amazing homecoming! Quoting Pilot Bill:
“When I contacted Goodyear Tower as I was in bound they asked if I had the ‘special package’ on board. After acknowledging we did in fact have Heidi on board they held all traffic for us until after we landed. They also announced over the comm that a welcoming committee was waiting for us at the terminal and to follow the pilot car.

It was a wonderful reunion. Must have been at least a dozen people there to greet her. She jumped right out of the plane and immediately went to Jim. They had a great reunion under the wing of my plane as the media looked on and filmed.”

Heidi finally home in Jim's loving arms..photo credit Tim Vetscher/ABC15.com

Every dog that flies has a special place in my heart and every transport has a story, this one is no different.

I am as always humbled by the generosity of the pilots through PilotsNPaws and grateful to them for their friendship and for still answering my phone calls and emails (because don’t think I don’t know that I’m a pain in the ass)

Every last person through PilotsNPaws that had offered help and ideas to get this special hound home…
I am blessed to know all of you.
Liz Bondarek
Transport Coordinator
(overtired volunteer; drinking heavily ;)


SPECIAL THANK YOU TO PILOT DAVE ZILZ’s for the video of Heidi’s Journey!

14 thoughts on “Heidi’s Incredible Journey Home to Jim!”

  1. Carolyn Melvin says:

    Wonderful story! Lots of conditions had to work just so to make it work out!

  2. Dave says:

    Liz –
    GREAT story! You could give the Dateline NBC folks a run for their money with your engaging investigative reporting! Thanks for being the quarterback for this play!

  3. Gena W says:

    Yayyyy to all the wonderful people that helped this sweet girl get home to her daddy !!! I was in tears reading the story and I’m still wiping them . You folks are truly awesome !!

  4. alice a. says:

    What a beautiful story abt. man & his dog & thank God for Pilots N Paws! Awesome.

  5. deb says:

    this is great. i did not know there was such an organization.

  6. LB says:

    This is such a great story. But what kind of person finds a dog and just decides that it is theirs? Shame on that woman.

  7. Bill says:

    Great things happen when extrodinary people get together for a common cause. I never doubted Liz’s ability to keep this one on track. Just glad to have played a part. Pilot Bill

  8. Dixie says:

    These pilots are angels!! Their wings are the wings on their planes. Their hearts can not be measured.

  9. Linda says:

    What a beautiful story & beautiful people who helped Heidi get back home !

  10. Julie says:

    Thanks Pilot Cary for making me cry today at work! No really…it was such a great reason for a good cry. This is such an awesome story and mission the organization has! Wow…now I truly know why you love what you do when you’re flying off for these rescues! Thank you to all of those involved!

  11. Sylvia says:

    What a wonderful story. This brought tears to me too, but happy ones. Thank you so much to all the pilots and to Liz.

  12. Dean Kennedy says:

    Adding another great charity to my donation list. Outstanding.

  13. Lisa V. says:

    Thanks for a great shot of Humanity…So happy for Jim and Heidi…You guys and Liz are amazing…What a beautiful story…

  14. Jeramie Dreyfuss says:

    Fabulous. Fabulous. Fabulous. My friend, Chantal Westerman and I rescue dogs from Southern Idaho counties and have just rescued our 300th dog and 3rd cat. I love you so much for what you are doing. So glad that you have such love and compassion. You are remarkable people.

Comments are closed.