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Pilots N Paws

Bear’s Journey With Pilot John

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An older dog, abandoned in a backyard when his owners moved away…. growing more and more emaciated by the day. Finally concerned neighbors stepped in and turned him into animal control.  “Bear,” believed to be between seven and nine years of age based on the bad condition of his teeth, was sent to the San Diego, CA shelter.  The shelter contacted Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue of Northern California (RRRNC) on August 13 and the rescue organization sprung into action. Barbara (Babs) Davilman contacted Pilot n’ Paws to help fly Bear up to Irvine where he could get tailored vet treatment.

Pilot John Baker called Babs of RRRNC and offered to give him a lift to Irvine (Long Beach airport) on August 17. One of Pilot John’s dogs is a ridgeback and looked just like Bear so it was love from the moment they met. Sweet, happy Bear made friends with everyone in the McClellan-Palomar (in Carlsbad, CA) airport and Long Beach airport lobbies. Pilot John said “Bear was THE best plane-dog I’ve rescued so far. He had the best back seat manners, no squirming, just sat down and laid down on the seat for the flight.” Bear didn’t even disturb the earphones that Pilot John gave him to protect his ears.

pilot john 1[As Pilot John was harnessing Bear in, he rested his head in John’s lap. Bear knew he was safe.]

After vet treatment and a week of careful feeding, Bear was taken in by one of RRRNC’s brand new foster families, Mike and Amy Kelley, with the mission of fattening him up and loving him.  Loving him was easy because Bear charmed everyone he met with his “helicopter twirling” tail, his wide grin and soulful eyes. Fattening up was a different story, until Amy stumbled across Bear’s true love….. cheese!  In two months, Bear slowly went from 47 pounds to 66 pounds.

Soon after taking bear into foster, a family applied for Bear and it seemed like a great fit.  The only obstacle was that Bear was in San Diego and the family was in the San Francisco Bay area.  Transport wasn’t easy to find and weeks went by.  In mid-October, the RRRNC coordinator received an email from Pilot John, who had never stopped thinking about Bear, and he reported that he had a good friend who was interested in adopting.  The RRRNC told Pilot John about the saga of getting Bear up to his new adoptive family in San Francisco and Pilot John again answered the call, rearranging his schedule to see his friend off to his new life.

On October 16 – two months to the day from their first flight together – a brand new Bear and Pilot John met again to transport from Long Beach to Reid-Hillview Airport near San Francisco. Bear knew the routine, quickly jumping into the backseat and donning his ear protection. He napped for the entire flight, knowing that Pilot John would take good care of him.  As foster mom Amy said “Bear has so much life in him!  He loves going places, doing things and meeting people.  His spirit is infectious.”

pilot john 2

[Pilot John and a healthy Bear are reunited, as Bear travels off to his new family]

Bear is healthy and now lives a wonderful life with a mom, dad, two little girls, age 1 and 4, and a doggy brother. His days are full of play and dog parks. Pilot John summed up Bear’s journey well when he said “It is with ALL of your help, and the Pilot’s and Paws organization that gave Bear another chance, and boy is he worth it!”

pilot john 3[Bear proud says goodbye to Southern California and all the people who helped get a second chance on life]

For more information on Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue of Northern California (RRRNC), please see their website at www.ridgeback.org.

31 thoughts on “Bear’s Journey With Pilot John”

  1. Jerri says:

    Great job John!

  2. Kristy says:

    Thank you, Pilot John! Happy holidays :)

  3. How do you move and leave your dog or any animal behind? I just can’t imagine what this poor baby went through. Thankfully he was saved and will now have a loving furrever home…Pilots and Paws are the greatest.

  4. Lorayne says:

    Thank you for what you do for animals. Nothing better than second chances and happy endings. :)

  5. Jean Durbin says:

    Hurray for John! I’m a transport coordinator for our northern california county shelter dogs (Humboldt County) and I always appreciate someone who’s so generous and committed to help a dog get where he needs to go! Godspeed, John, on your future flights, with or without a furry passenger! I’m also a pilot but not current…not instrument rated either…a requirement here for people who want to fly whenever they wish :) If I were, I’d probably be airborne most of the time…if I had the money :)

  6. kim says:

    this is awesome and sweet, Im am happy there are people out there like this!!

  7. Katherine McNeil says:

    Pilot John, Pilots and Paws, and RRRNC as a former Ridgeback owner, co-breeder under the kennel name of Tra-Ann, and dog show person, I salute you for saving Bear. I can’t even imagine moving and abandoning any dog no less a senior dog. Thank you for your kindness. Even though my last Ridgeback passed in the 90’s they still hold a special place in my heart.

  8. Art Dreyer says:

    Who on earth could be so cold as to abandon their dog after 8 or 9 years? If we lose site of our dogs for a minute we start running to look for them. There just is no creature more wonderful than a dog. Thanks John! Hopefully Bear has a new family who will show him more love and care than he was used to. Last week, my wife Patty and I flew our 558th dog to rescue. Thanks to Debi, Jon and PnP there are thousands upon thousands of lives saved! The thanks you see in their big brown eyes is well worth every penny, and hour in the air!!

  9. Jan says:

    What a great story. Thank you, Pilot John.

  10. Charlotte says:

    At first I thought this was going to be another poor dog abandoned by his owners when they moved, leaving him to fend for himself, with no home, and nobody to care for him anymore. What heartless people his previous owners must have been to leave him like that-if they couldn’t have him where they were going it was their responsibility to find a home for him before they left!! I’ll never understand people like that!!
    But Bear’s story turned around to be anything but sad. With the intervention of many OTHER kind people Bear now has a wonderful forever home, with a seemingly perfect family!
    What a touching story, and what wonderful volunteer pilots you have!!
    Thank you for the service you give!

  11. Kelly Salomone says:

    Tears are flowing. There are so many sad, heartbreaking stories out there that this just touched my heart to hear of the love this dog has brought and will receive. Thank you for sharing Bear’s story and thank you John for all you do to save the lives of beautiful dogs like Bear. Merry Christmas!

  12. Barbara says:

    I always look forward to seeing these postings …my heart is lifted …I just love happy endings.
    kudos for your Great work…Thanks

  13. Denise says:

    I love great stories with happy endings :)

  14. Carol Price says:

    This is a truly wonderful story. So glad the neighbors FINALLY got around to getting Bear out of that yard and into capable hands of the humane officials. Learn from this, people. Don’t just watch a chained dog or an abandoned dog. DO SOMETHING! As for Pilot John, he is another example of the wonderful “heros” at PNP. Best of luck to Bear and his new family.

  15. lisa says:

    That’s such a beautiful story!! I can’t believe people just abandon part of their family when they move but I’m so glad that Bear found his forever family, may they spoil him to bits <3 And thanks to all involved with PNP, what a great organization!!

  16. ginger gamble says:

    All of you never cease to amaze me with your unselfish measures/actions to better the lives of these sweet, defenseless dogs!!

    It has to be so rewarding for you, as well, to see these angels plucked from a miserable, painfully cruel existence into healthy, loving lives with true ‘human’ beings!!

    My heart is filled with respect & happiness for you when I read each of your posts!!

    THANK-YOU to each & every last one of you who is instrumental in helping the dogs into safe, loving & deserving homes!! (y)

    quite sincerely,

  17. Marina says:

    Great story! I love a happy ending <3
    Thank you to Piolt John and all involved to help Bear start his new life :)

  18. Julie says:

    Those pictures made my evening! Thank you pilots for all you do for the animals. We rescue groups really appreciate your help!

  19. Judy Loudin says:

    Thanks Pilot John for giving Bear a ride to freedom and love! You guys in PNP rock! Thanks for all you do for the furkids!

  20. Priscilla says:

    This story really brought tears to my eyes, it’s so wonderful hearing about heros like Pilot John!!! What a sweet soul and man!!! God bless you all and give Bear a big ole bear hug for me~over here in Maine!!! <3

  21. marianne wiltzius says:

    Thanks to all the people who helped Bear and especially Pilot John!

  22. Tammy W says:

    Hi Pilot John “Thank you for your love of flying and volunteering your time and plane to fly Bear twice.

    You and all the other pilots do a wonderful service flying the dogs to their new and hopefully happy furever homes.

    Happy Holidays to you and your family!!!

  23. May The Good Lord bless Babs, Pilot John, and all others involved in the rescue of Bear. But I still wonder what kind of people would move and leave their dog. I wrote a story titled “Whiskers” about just such a thing.

  24. cherie marcom-gatlin says:

    It made me cry;1st with sorrow,then with joy! The smile on Bear’s face (yeah,I mean the dog) speaks volumes. How could anyone see this & NOT adopt.

  25. Kris Lord says:

    What a wonderful story! Pilot John – you totally rock! Blessings on you, and on Bear.

  26. LaNeen Densley says:

    Hey, you are the best! Taking a troubled dog is not an easy tribute; you stepped up for doggie plus you. Accolades!

  27. Jim Taylor says:

    That is the good news story of the day. Way to go John. Way to go neighbors. Way to go Bear.

  28. Rita Singleton says:

    Thank you, Pilot John and PNP!

  29. Laura says:

    I love how happy you both look. Your a good man John! Thank you for being a part of PNP

  30. Jim Taylor says:

    When I told my wife, a former Property Manager this story, she was not surprised. Apparently leaving as much normalcy behind, which apparently can include the family dog, to delay the finding of an owner’s skipping out on paying the rent, is not that unusual. I’m with the rest of you- how someone could possibly have the heart to do that to part of the family is beyond my comprehension. But Bear is now with a family that will love and care for him WAAAAAY more than his previous one, so at least there is a reward for his amazing suffering. May you now have a life of joy, Bear!

  31. Gerri says:

    Pilot John: I met you last week with Heather Rowe when you transported 4 wonderful dogs to Muttville. You are FABULOUS and I am just crazy about all you do for these animals. God Bless you!!!! You are the best!!!


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