Deaf Dalmatian flown to Bay City by Pilots N Paws joins her new owner
BAY CITY, MI — An unusual passenger landed at James Clements Airport in Bay
County Friday afternoon — a deaf Dalmatian named for Whitney Houston.
Waiting for Whitney’s arrival by the taxiway was her new pet-parent, Jill Chanel, 54, of Bay City.
“I didn’t hear the plane land,” Chanel said. “But from around the corner, here came Pilot Fred holding a leash for Whitney.”
Whitney was born deaf, a common defect to her breed. Her breeder named her Whitney because of a Whitney Houston song playing on the radio at naming time. After realizing the dog couldn’t hear, the breeder donated Whitney to Spotted Dog Dalmatian Rescue in Middletown, Penn., as an alternative to euthanasia.
Spotted Dog Dalmatian Rescue posted pictures of Whitney online. Chanel found Whitney, and Whitney found a new home. After applying to adopt the dog, Chanel started a two-month process to bring Whitney to her new home.
Chanel knew she wanted a Dalmatian after her dog PJ, also a Dalmatian, died in January. All three of Chanel’s dogs were certified as therapy dogs, yet PJ always got a lot more attention, she said. The other two dogs are beagles.
Starting this year, deaf Dalmatians may be certified as therapy dogs, the American Kennel Club has ruled. Owners call the dogs who cannot hear “deafies.”
“A deaf dog is not disposable, ” Chanel said. “That’s the whole purpose for Spotted Dog Dalmatian Rescue and why I looked for a deafy, like Whitney.”
Whitney is five months old and will go through basic obedience training before therapy classes. She has to be at least 1 before she can become therapy certified.
Getting Whitney’s attention will be a challenge, Chanel said. Her training will include sign language and other signals.
Pilots N Paws Rescue Services is a Web forum where pilots who are willing to transport animals to their adoptive parents respond to posts and arrange the flights.
Bad weather postponed Whitney’s trip several times, but Friday, Paul Cox of Purcellville, Va. picked up Whitney from Middletown, Penn. and flew her to Sandusky. Fred Moye of Lansing, 42, flew the dog from Sandusky to Bay City.
Known as Pilot Fred, Moye has been flying since 2006 and belongs to the Olde Forge Flyers in Lansing. He was looking to serve a charity when he came across Pilots N Paws. He loves animals, and this “gives me a good reason to fly,” he said.
His first flight to transport a rescue was in September 2010. Bringing Whitney to Bay City was his 13th transport flight.
Whitney was a well-behaved passenger, he said. She has a funny habit of chasing shadows, but when it was time to fly, she jumped right in, Moye said.
“Because she is deaf, she seems to live in her own little world,” he said. “But she is very cute.”