Sgt. 1st Class Keven Henry and his family took a trip to Georgia with their new puppy, Buddy, in tow.
The Henrys were in Georgia for their son’s graduation and to visit family. Toward the end of that trip, Buddy, a pug, escaped.
“I left him with a friend, and he got out. We looked all over for him, but we couldn’t stay. We had to get back to Fort Polk,” said Henry. “My girls, (Kevena, 11, and Marissa, 9) were highly upset, we all were.”
The Henrys hoped that Buddy would be found and returned to them because he had the implant and when he disappeared, and he was wearing a collar and dog tags. Henry said he told his family that if Buddy didn’t show up, they would get another dog after Henry retired.
“I just couldn’t go through getting another dog right away,” Henry said.
That was probably a good decision considering that eight months later, the Henrys got a call from Nassau County Animal Services in Florida. The Florida shelter told the Henrys that Buddy had been turned in to them as a stray. The shelter’s staff found Buddy’s microchip, called for owner information and made the call to Fort Polk.
“It had been such a long time. I didn’t know if Buddy would remember us,” he said. Still, the family was excited about getting Buddy back.
Deborah L. Biggs, director of Nassau County Animal Services, talked to the Henrys and was instrumental in coordinating Buddy’s trip from Florida to Fort Polk.
“I want to thank all the volunteers that made this happen,” Biggs said. Buddy was flown on several short airplane trips from Florida to Louisiana and returned to the Henry family.”
Nikki McCoy, cruelty investigator for the Calcasieu Parish Animal Service, drove Buddy to Fort Polk on the last leg of his trip.
“This is the kind of thing that makes my job worthwhile. I’m an animal investigator, and I come across a lot of sad situations. But when I see the look in a child’s eyes as a pet is returned, it makes my job worthwhile. This is why I do what I do,” McCoy said.
Losing a pet can be devastating. That’s why McCoy advocates the use of microchips. “Microchip your animals. It’s well worth it,” she said.
“If we hadn’t microchipped him, we would never have gotten Buddy back,” said Henry.
The fact that Buddy was lost in Georgia and found in Florida amazes Henry. “I don’t understand how he made it.”
What happened to Buddy during those eight months is anybody’s guess.
At the February reunion at the Visitor’s Center in front of Fort Polk’s main gate, the family showered affection on their lost friend. “This is great. We appreciate everything everyone did to get Buddy back to us,” Henry said.
Buddy is a family pet, but Henry’s spouse, Melissa, said Henry originally bought the dog for her. As she hugged Buddy, she said, “He’s my baby.”
Their daughter Kevena was there when Buddy was returned. “I’m really happy. When I get him home I’m going to play with him and take good care of him,” she said.