Patriotic stranger pays to fly Georgia soldier's lost dog 1,200

Sunday, August 1, 2004

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Luckily for Army Spc. Brian Wallace, he's not the only member of his family who wears dog tags.

A month after the soldier's dog, Harley, went missing during a trip to North Carolina, the Labrador-coonhound mix turned up more than 1,200 miles away in Oklahoma.

Harley wore a tag engraved with an ID number and the name of a Web site -- -- that a woman who found the 7-month-old pooch on her doorstep used to track down his owners. A patriotic travel agent then paid $202 to fly Harley home Thursday to his family stationed at Fort Stewart.

"I missed him. He's an excellent dog," said Wallace, 32, a field artillery observer with the 3rd Infantry Division who served in Iraq last year and is training to return there by early next year. "It's nice to have people like that out there."

Wallace and his wife, Ann Marie, of nearby Hinesville likely will never know how Harley traveled from Jacksonville, N.C., to Blanchard, Okla. But the Wallaces are certain he didn't walk.

After Harley escaped from the back yard of Wallace's mother's home June 30, the couple searched through the night for him. But they had to drive home the next day for Wallace to report back to Fort Stewart.

On July 22, three weeks after Harley went missing, owners of a gas station in Newton Grove, N.C., 71 miles from Jacksonville, found Harley and used the information listed on his tag to reach his owners.

By the time the Wallaces called back, the station owners said they had already given the dog to a couple who said Harley belonged to them.

The next day the couple got another phone call, from Oklahoma.

Soon, Oklahoma City television station KFOR had the story and found out the Wallaces didn't want to risk driving Harley home because he could run away during a stop.

So the station checked with its travel agent, Seagrave Travel, on whether Harley might fly the 1,218-mile trip home.

Agency owner Dave Blew not only arranged for Harley to fly cargo on a Delta Airlines jet, but also paid the $202 fare from his own pocket.

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