For the Love of Dog - The Flight of Bea

World-wide Group of Sheepdog Lovers Band Together to Help One of their Own

Andres Villagra of Buenos Aires, Argentina, wept as his dear friend, Foxy, an Old English Sheepdog (OES), died in his arms last May. Bloat, an often fatal yet little known condition common in dogs, had taken Foxy in a matter of hours. Old English Sheepdogs are not a common breed, and in Argentina they are impossible to find, so he knew his chances of owning another sheepdog were slim.

Devastated, Andres shared his grief with a Facebook group for Old English Sheepdog owners that he’d belonged to for a few years. The group, over 13,000 strong around the world, poured out their love and sympathy for the friend few if any of them will ever meet in person, understanding the unique bond OES owners have with these beautiful animals.

Enter Louise Celsi, owner and photographer at Chelseaport Designs, a long-time sheepdog owner, and a member of the same Facebook group. Unable to sit by and see Andres suffer while new litters of puppies are celebrated regularly in the group, she asked Andres if he was ready for a new puppy. He was. Louise created a GoFundMe account to raise money for a new puppy for Andres. In two months the group raised $4000, enough to ship the puppy, pay for her shots, crate, toys, customs fees, and more. The ball was rolling.

Bea at just a few weeks old.

Louise contacted a number of breeders she knew, and Tara Kirby of Kirby’s Sheepies offered to donate a puppy. This is no small donation considering the dogs typically sell for $1500 or more.

All the details with Argentinian Customs, United Airlines Pet Safe and more had to be in place by October 4th. Last minute changes (Bea was now too large to fly in the cabin) sent Team Bea scrambling, and wrestling with the worry of flying a young puppy alone over 10,000 kilometers on two flights. But they did it. October 4th, Tara Kirby and Jan Tabler drove Bea to Chicago and tearfully entrusted her to the PetSafe crew at United.

Jan with Bea, just before her flights begin.

United Airlines Pet Safe at Chicago's O'Hare Airport

Hundreds of sheepdog lovers from 43 states and 22 countries followed Bea’s flights to Houston and then to Buenos Aires on flight tracking software, some even staying up all night to pray for and watch the little puppy’s progress. They drained batteries, missed meetings, and chewed fingernails.

Joy erupted in the sheepdog world when Bea landed safely. Customs, however took over six hours, which Andres described as a “nightmare.”

With Bea eventually in his arms, Andres posted, “Quiet and safe at home with her Dad and her new sisters. She is an angel. I’ll never forget what you all did for me. It was a very long day in the … airport. We are tired…We love you all.#GodBlessAmerica.”

Andres and Bea, home together at last.

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