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Pilots N Paws

The Saga of Saving Abigail

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Some weeks ago, I got a call from Ashley Pugh, a Houston rescuer. Ashley had heard about a stray-hoarder in Conroe TX, north of Houston, who was threatening to abandon her dogs at Conroe’s high-kill shelter. The woman, apparently, had been taking in strays and had decided that she could no longer afford to feed them. Ashley had driven to Conroe, collected a Great Dane and a couple of Chihuahuas, and had transported them toward a foster in Boerne TX, outside of San Antonio.


There was the sweetest girl, Ashley said, that she had to leave behind. The Boerne foster, she said, had agreed to take her and she was wondering if I could fly her. We made tentative arrangements for Saturday, 5/17, but, the night before the flight, everything unraveled. There had been a miscommunication between Ashley and the foster, who had no more room. Ashley was exasperated and threw up her hands. The girl had nowhere to go, and her time was running out.

When I commit to a rescue mission, I commit to it. Sometimes, the weather forces a delay or postponement; sometimes, a postponement is necessary on a long cross-country transport because of a missing leg. Whatever it takes, I do what I can to honor the commitments I make. I felt that I had an obligation to this girl. And so it was that, on Wednesday, 5/21, I found myself before dawn in the parking lot of a Hooter’s in Spring TX, waiting on Abigail.


Poor Abi was skinny, flea-infested and had a bad ear infection and intestinal parasites. Despite all of that, she was the sweetest, most trusting and most affectionate girl. Abi hopped right into the back seat of my Yukon. We drove the 90 minutes back to my vet, Friendswood Animal Clinic, which had agreed to spay her, vaccinate her, and treat her at a generous rescue discount. Abi was a hit with the vet techs, one of who exclaimed, “So she’s a Hooters girl!”

Abi at Friendswood Animal Clinic

Abi making friends at Friendswood Animal Clinic

With five rescue dogs of my own, I couldn’t keep Abi indefinitely, so I picked her up on Thursday, 5/22, and drove her to German Manzo, a big-hearted dog groomer/boarder, who had agreed to keep her until I could find a foster/adopter/rescue group. I broadcast some pleas. Jerry Dunham in Austin TX, possibly the hardest-working transport coordinator there is, had gotten Abi accepted by the Elmbrook Humane Society in Brookfield WI, based upon my photos and description of her demeanor. AND, David and Diane Newton, who fly for Pilots N Paws, were going to Wisconsin early Saturday, 5/24, and had room for Abi and some other dogs. I picked up Abi from German on Friday, drove her back home to Friendswood TX and crated her in the garage.

David with Dash and Diane with Abi

David with Dash and Diane with Abi

I thought about flying her on Saturday from Pearland Regional Airport, where N20223, my Cessna Cardinal is based, to Lone Star Executive in Conroe, where the Newtons were based, but quickly rejected the idea. Pearland Regional is south of Houston and Lone Star Exec is north of Houston; in between are Hobby and Bush Intercontinental airports, Houston’s two commercial fields. What would be a 20-minute flight direct becomes more like 45 minutes once vectored by ATC. Plus, I’d have the pre-flight check to do and would have to pull 223 out of the hangar. I decided that it would be less stressful for Abi if I drove her.

Turning in for the night and another pre-dawn drive, I heard Abi crying and whimpering. Cessna, my elderly Schnoodle, and I slept on a mat on the garage floor to keep her company. The next morning, I delivered Abi to the Newtons. She hopped right into the back of their Piper Saratoga. I whispered what I always whisper to my transport dogs: “Only special dogs get to fly.” Before I closed the door, Abi turned around, licked my face and put her paw on my arm. I bawled the entire long drive back home.


I have a strong connection to all of my rescues, but some just burrow deeper into my heart and soul. Abi was one of those. About 10 days later, Abi was adopted. She now has a bright future and the loving and caring home the sweet girl deserved. So: no flying this time, just a precious soul saved.

Story from Wade Roberts


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14 thoughts on “The Saga of Saving Abigail”

  1. Maryanne Sea says:

    Thank you, Wade, for all the love you give to these beautiful beings. Your story touched me so.

    Maryanne Sea

  2. I am anxiously waiting for my little girl to be flown to me in a few days. I had a rescue for the past 15 yrs that I loved with all my heart. what a beautiful story!

  3. michelle says:

    Beautiful!! This sweet girl now has a wonderful life because of her dedicated rescuers and PNP. You are angels…..

  4. Williams.Suzanne08@gmail.com says:


  5. Ardie Phillips says:

    Thank you for your generous spirit and kind heart. I am so proud to be a member of a special group of people, general aviation pilots, who go “above and beyond”, whether in the air or not, to do special things.

  6. Karen says:

    What a wonderful story!! Abi knew…..who was going to save her, who was going to take care of her, & who loved her if only for a short period of time together! She had a second chance and was so thankful….its funny how they know but they do as evident as it was with a lick of the face and the touch of her paw on his arm as to say ” Thank You!” How precious & sweet…..it doesnt get any better then this……Thanks again for the part everyone played so that Abi could have a second chance….

  7. E Anderson says:

    Very touching story. Thank you for being a good person and going the extra mile to help Abi get to her deserved new life!

  8. Melanie says:

    Love this story about Abi! Such a lucky girl! Thank you!

  9. Sharon says:

    I volunteer at the Elmbrook Humane Society and remember Abigail. Very sweet disposition.

  10. Jill Carter says:

    Your story bright tears to my eyes! I have been so blessed to have several foster dogs touch my heart as well. :-) I always h happy for them, and sad for me!

  11. Sandra says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. The pictures of Abi capture her sweet heart and it is easy to see why it was hard for you to let her go, but it is also obvious why she was quickly adopted. Blessings to everyone along the way who gave their loving gifts to this beautiful girl!

  12. Pat Booher says:

    Another special story Wade. Thanks for all you do for rescues.

  13. Dick Cole says:

    A great story. My son and I recently flew our first mission for Pilots N Paws using my Cessna Cardinal N30157. After reading your story, I should consider fostering for overnight stops for weather or routes.

  14. Wade Roberts says:


    Congratulations! And I welcome you and your son to PNP. It’s great to have another Cardinal pilot on board; I fly N20223, a 1977 FG, out of the Houston TX area. This is some of the most fulfilling, meaningful and rewarding flying that a pilot could possibly do. You also meet the biggest-hearted and most altruistic other pilots (not to mention the countless rescuers, fosters, volunteer ground transports . . . . ). It’s a pleasure, an honor and a privilege to be in their company.

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