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Honey finds ‘forever’ home in time for Christmas

PHOTO PROVIDED Honey relaxes in front of the fireplace with her forever family, the Embicks.

NORTH BEND — When Jeff and Tracy Embick decided to adopt a dog just before Thanksgiving, they along with their two youngest daughters, Nicole and Maya, had one requirement -they wanted a rescue dog.

The family had chosen the path of adopting a dog from a kennel before. Their newest addition was coming after the passing of Diesel, a 9 year-old mixed breed that they saved from the Clinton County SPCA four years earlier.

A couple of years ago, Tracy was a reference for someone who was adopting a dog through PA Caring for K9’s, a Harrisburg based non-profit group that saves dogs from kill shelters out of state and tries to find homes for them in Pennsylvania. Since that time Tracy often looked over K9’s social media page of the dogs that needed homes.

Tracy said she was viewing their site one night and saw “Honey”, a hound mix that was being housed in Alabama at the Forgotten Tails Rescue Center and who reminded her of Diesel.

Forgotten Tails and PA Caring for K9’s eventually transported Honey to Harrisburg, where she would stay for five days. During that time the Embick family travelled to meet her and see if they were her forever home destination.

It was determined that Honey would become the North Bend family’s newest member, and on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Jeff picked up Honey and brought her home.

As with many rescue dogs, often times just how troubling a dog’s life was prior to being rescued remains a mystery. The Embick family knew that Honey was found with a litter of her 10 puppies, living in the streets of Alabama.

Even after Honey and her pups were saved, two larger dogs would break loose and attack Honey, leading to multiple surgeries. So they knew she would obviously become skittish by nature.

With Honey well on the mend, she arrived home and Jeff took her from his truck to the yard that she would now call her own. After letting her sniff around for about 10 minutes Maya came out to welcome her fur sister.

As the two headed toward the front door to take Honey inside for the first time, the door squeaked, causing her to pull back, slip her leash and head to the wooded area that surrounds the Embick house.

Honey, who had come from the streets of Alabama, was now loose in the cold, central PA woods, and in all likelihood too scared to ever even consider approaching a would-be rescuer.

“It was heartbreaking. It was so hard for all of us not to be aggressive in trying to get her back, and the girls had a hard time understanding that we had to wait for her,” Jeff said.

Help was about to arrive.

Patty and Bethany from PA Caring for K9’s joined Joy and Jodie from Pet Recovery of Centre County and they all showed up at the Embick home. Live cage traps, cameras and cooking bacon on the grill all were set in place as the dog lovers were pulling out all the stops to find Honey.

The help provided by the Pennsylvania organizations was greatly appreciated and their passion for saving dogs was obvious, the couple said.

Still, the rescue efforts were about to get a boost from two exceptional women and their act of heroism.

Robin and Melody from Forgotten Tails Rescue of Alabama knew Honey better than anyone. Upon hearing that she was on the run, the two woman grabbed “Pip,” a puppy that Honey knew from the rescue center, and jumped in their car. After a 15-hour ride, the two arrived at the Embick home on Black Friday night.

Honey in the meantime had fortunately stayed in the general area of the Embick house. She was seen often by passersby or even on trail cams. Despite the wooded area of the location, Young Woman’s Creek Road runs just up a hill from where she was being seen. Faster moving cars were a constant worry of not only possibly hitting Honey but also making her even more upset as vehicles navigated the turns of the road, the couple said.

Cage-style traps had been set earlier, and calls were yelled often, as those searching knew all too well that Honey had to come to them no matter how painstakingly slow that process seemed.

After no luck on their Friday arrival, Robin and Melody slept at the Embick’s house and started their search again on a cold Saturday morning. It was much colder than their home state of Alabama.

Melody had taken Pip with her walking on an old trail road when she spotted Honey. Honey immediately showed interest in walking towards Melody, but with each passing car, progress was often stalled.

Eventually Honey’s wanting to see Pip and Melody overcame her fear and she approached Melody, who slowly but quickly took off her boot lace, fashioning a leash to keep control of her.

As Robin, Melody, Pip and Honey pulled into the Embick driveway, the reality of the four-day ordeal being over swept through the house.

“We were ecstatic. Maya is a big part of why we chose Honey and she was so happy,” Tracy said.

Honey has spent the last couple of weeks getting used to her new family.

At first when taken outside to go to the bathroom she wouldn’t want to go back in. This past weekend for the first time she seems perfectly content walking back into her home.

After having spent Thanksgiving alone in unfamiliar cold woods, maybe Honey’s most reaffirming realization that she has found her forever home will come as she lay inside, sitting with her family around the tree on Christmas morning.

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