By Kevin Wilson
By Kevin Wilson
PNT Managing Editor
Honey Bear is a pretty unassuming dog at first sight. After the tan-brown Chinese Shar-pei has taken a sniff of a guest in Mike Davidson’s home, she’ll retreat to her dog bed.
A second look reveals a red underside, where she had surgery to remove a .38 bullet that spent nearly a week inside her. With each additional look, there’s another story about the dog, from the strangers who helped her return home to the support that poured out from online dog-lovers across the nation to the owner that still holds out hope for Honey Bear’s companion, Ziggy.
“We hold out a lot,” Davidson said. “You have to prepare yourself for him not to come back, but you never give up hope.”
Especially not after all that’s happened to Honey Bear. The two dogs went missing on July 22, when Davidson and roommate Carol Hazel were each gone for various meetings. When they returned, they found the latch to a gate was broken, with a pair of dog tracks leading in separate directions.
Davidson admits that he treats his dogs as children, and he acted immediately to find them. He called authorities, put ads in every publication he could think of, and posted to about 25 different Web sites regarding Ziggy and Honey Bear.
One of those sites was his own (www.chinese-sharpei.com) and another (www.sharpeiforums.com) became a support group.
“The shar-pei forums are really for people who are interested in owning a shar-pei,” said Alan Thompson, the administrator of sharpeiforums.com. “It’s pretty much an open forum. We’ve got seasoned professionals, we’ve got some people who make livings in dog breeding as well as general owners.”
What Davidson came across was a forum where people come when they’ve either lost a Shar-pei or found one and wish to contact the owner. The group gave Davidson (a.k.a. MikeinNM in the forum) support in the next few weeks, which included several unsuccessful searches.
“We had gone on a lot of wild goose chases,” Davidson said. “Combined, we’ve driven about 500 miles just looking.”
The chase for Honey Bear ended 10 days later, when two men from Clovis called in response to a dog that they had found similar to the ad Davidson posted in a Thrifty Nickel.
The two men cornered Honey Bear in a building by their house a few blocks south of Brady Ave. When Davidson called Honey Bear, she mustered what Hazel thought was her last ounce of strength to limp back to her owner.
“She looked like she was coming out of a POW camp,” Hazel said. “She was all skin and bones. She still was there mentally, but she was on her last steps.”
Honey Bear had a huge growth coming out of her side, and everyone was at a loss for what caused it. Davidson tried to offer the men a reward, but they refused and insisted Davidson use the money for surgery.
At the first opportunity, Davidson and Hazel brought Honey Bear down to Hertel Veterinary Services. Dr. Kevin Hertel took a look at Honey Bear and feared she wouldn’t survive surgery in her weakened state — it didn’t help that Honey Bear had lost roughly 15 pounds during her time away from home.
So Davidson and Hazel did what they could do to make Honey Bear strong enough for surgery.
“We put importance on getting food and water in her,” Davidson said. “She ate well, she drank well.”
Honey Bear survived last week’s surgery, and came out with a souvenir — a .38 bullet that was lodged inside of her when she was found.
“We were just shocked that is was a bullet,” Hazel said. “We thought it was an infection from barbed wire or a bite.”
Davidson never forgot about his support groups, either. They’ve been receiving updates like a picture of the bullet, and updates on the continuing search for Ziggy.
“I don’t recall any story that was anything like this, what happened with Mike,” Thompson said. “It’s kind of a bittersweet thing. The story of what has happened to that dog … I think it really touched a lot of people. They hear about dog cruelty, they react pretty strongly.”
There are still a lot of questions Davidson is dealing with. He still doesn’t know how the latch on his gate was broken. He believes the bullet was likely a ricochet, because the bullet was torn up despite the fact that it hit no muscles or nerves and bounced off of a rib.
He’s also dealing with what he considers as miracles. He thinks Honey Bear is three miracles, considering:
• She survived parvo early in her life,
• She survived 10 days away from home and
• She survived a bullet wound.
Still, he hopes for a miracle with Ziggy, who is still missing.
“We’ve had three miracles, but we’re hoping for a fourth miracle,” Davidson said. “We’re greedy. We’ll take it.”
For information on Davidson’s search, visit www.chinese-sharpei.com.