Flying Aged Pooch to Her Forever Home: How a Pilot Helped a Shelter Dog Cover Hundreds of Miles to Spend the Rest of Her Life with her Adoring Family

Medical professionals gave a grim prognosis, indicating that her time was limited to mere weeks. In response, a pilot stepped in and flew her over a distance of 400 miles to be with her new family. The aim was to ensure that her last days were filled with care and affection.

Ashlyn, an elderly dog residing in a shelter in North Carolina, was unwell and had lost a considerable amount of weight. She was also diagnosed with sarcomas, cancerous tumors beneath her skin. However, fortune smiled on her when the New England Humane Society (NEHS) located a suitable home for her to spend the remaining weeks of her life. The only issue was getting her there. But then, Paul Steklenski, the founder of Flying Fur Animal Rescue (FFAR), offered to fly her up in his aircraft.

As Steklenski piloted the aircraft with Ashlyn sitting beside him, he couldn’t help but feel a wave of sadness wash over him. The thought that this might be her last journey weighed heavily on his mind. Steklenski is no stranger to transporting puppies to their new homes and rescues. In fact, he usually flies around 15 to 30 dogs every month. Nevertheless, it’s the older dogs that really pull at his heartstrings. Steklenski shared that he pays extra attention to their needs and emotions because he understands what they’re going through.

Ashlyn was feeling anxious about the long two-hour journey ahead. Steklenski noticed that initially, she kept a bit of distance. However, gradually she started opening up and getting closer to him. To ease her nerves, he offered her some dog biscuits which seemed to do the trick. The gesture even earned him a paw shake from Ashlyn.

Steklenski shared that when his puppy placed her head on his lap, it held a significant meaning to him. For him, that simple gesture was the ultimate reward. His passion for flying started in 2013, coincidentally around the time he adopted his furry friend. Back then, these two things seemed unrelated, but they eventually became intertwined. As he visited pet stores and shelters with his canine companion, Steklenski started to realize the staggering number of homeless animals waiting for someone to give them a forever home. That’s when he decided to use his hobby for a good cause.

Ashlyn owes her current state of recovery to him, the individual who brought her to safety. Though it was assumed that Ashlyn required immediate hospitalization, her remarkable progress indicates otherwise. Tracy Lander, an experienced dog fosterer for the NEHS, expressed her shock and sadness upon receiving Ashlyn at the airport. Ashlyn had lost a staggering 39 pounds, leaving her severely underweight. Lander recounts the moment she removed Ashlyn’s sweater, revealing the protrusion of every rib on her starving frame.

In order to help Ashlyn gain some weight, Lander began feeding her three meals a day. Additionally, she offered the cat various vitamins to address her numerous health issues, ranging from skin conditions caused by chemical burns to cancerous growths. Over time, Ashlyn’s behavior showed some improvement. Lander observed that the cat was becoming more active and had developed a healthy appetite. Ashlyn also seemed to enjoy Lander’s company quite a bit.

Ashlyn has developed a close bond with Angel, one of Lander’s other dogs, and Xander, the boxer mix, is also eager to meet her. Lander shared that Xander approaches Ashlyn and begins licking her as he believes he can heal everyone through his actions. Ashlyn came to live with the Landers in January with no clear idea of how long she would stay. However, she has become an integral part of their family, reminding them to cherish each day and live in the present. The Landers no longer view Ashlyn as a fospice dog but rather someone who is loved and appreciated. Despite the unexpected progress, Ashlyn has made in her growth and development.

Steklenski expressed that he couldn’t have predicted he would come across something as delightful and fulfilling as to overshadow nearly everything else in his life.

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