Escaping New Orleans before the arrival of Katrina were 6 year old Bryce Kaltenbach, her Mom, her best friend Buddy, and a family friend. In Vicksburg, MS., they learned they could not go home. Bryce and her mom boarded a bus to Phoenix, but could not take Buddy along on the bus. Bryce was heartbroken. Cheri (Bryce's Mom), had a friend that was willing to take Buddy home with him, all the way to Orlando Florida. This put Bryce and Buddy over 2,000 miles apart.
FuRR learned of the situation and it caught our hearts. Bryce's world was turned upside down, and the more we learned, the more we understood her pain. She was crying every night, her Mom reported, and she missed her best Buddy.
Enter FuRR volunteer and pilot, Dave Cuttino. Hearing of Bryce and Buddy, Dave decided to help. He and two other pilots, Jason Strobbe and Ryan Webb, took a plane to Orlando, and in a nearly 12 hour flight, brought Buddy to Little Rock. On the flight Buddy was totally comfortable - he roamed the cockpit and we are sure he helped the pilots fly.
Dave had planned to take Buddy the rest of the way home but Hurricane Rita came along and nixed all plans to fly a small plane. So another FuRR volunteer, Tracey Owens, donated frequent flyer miles for Buddy to fly from Little Rock to Phoenix. Volunteer Susan Loesch accompanied Buddy on the flight. He rode at her feet, and sporting a fatigue print bandana, was quite the attention getter!
Alma and Lorne Williams, at whose home Bryce and her Mom were staying, cooked up the big surprise reunion. With video and digital cameras at the ready, Alma describes Buddy and Bryce's reunion:
Alma says Buddy is quite the love bug and has now endeared himself to everyone at their house - almost. "Some of the cats aren't quite sure what to make of this gangly orange boy, but they're so used to newcomers, the standoffishness won't last long." Bryce is elated to once again come home from school and find her Buddy right there she says. "He's the first ting she heads for, even before she gets her backpack off. It's not New Orleans, but Buddy's here, so it's home agian for Bryce." Next step Alma says, is making a scrapbook, "Buddy's Miraculous Journey", courtesy of FuRR."