Marlene Furey's face lit up as she typed: "Santa said Dasher could go home for Christmas."
The owner of an Okatie dog rescue group had saved Dasher, a young Aussie-hound mix, from a kill shelter and was looking for a way to get him to his new home in Massachusetts.
That's when four pilots with a national group stepped in to relay the pup. The dog left Friday with a pilot who'd flown to Hilton Head from Charleston to pick him up. He took Dasher to North Carolina, where a second pilot flew him to Maryland, then on to New York with another pilot, who handed him off to the fourth pilot, who took him to Massachusetts.
Dasher's incredible journey began earlier this month when he was brought to a shelter in Lancaster County, 40 miles south of Charlotte. A good Samaritan had found him wandering the streets, said Furey, owner of Furey's Furry Friends.
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Malnourished and underweight, Dasher was labeled in critical condition, meaning that the overrun shelter could euthanize him, she said.
A friend of Furey, her heart set on saving Dasher, picked him up and called Furey, who agreed to foster the dog.
Furey posted photos of Dasher on Facebook, hoping someone would give him a permanent home.
It didn't take long.
The photo popped up in Michele Handley's news feed. She immediately clicked on the image of the smiling black-and-white dog with a freckled nose and brown patch over one eye.
"He looked like such a happy dog," said Handley, of East Taunton, Mass. "My boyfriend and I thought he was so handsome. We didn't want him put to sleep ... and I may have someone already who wants to adopt him -- that's if we don't fall in love with him."
One problem: How would Dasher get from Okatie to East Taunton?
The answer: Pilots N Paws, an online message board that connects animal rescuers with pilots who volunteer to fly pets to new homes.
In a matter of hours, Furey had four pilots signed up to fly Dasher.
Daniel Krueger of Charleston flew into Hilton Head Island Airport at about 8 a.m. Friday to begin the first leg of Dasher's four-leg flight to Massachusetts.
He flew the dog to Raleigh, N.C., where he was to be picked up by Steve Schoop to be flown to Frederick, Md. From there, Bill Curtis was to fly Dasher to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he was to be picked up by Charlie Malo for his last leg to East Taunton.
"As a dog owner, it makes you sick to your stomach to see the conditions these animals were rescued from, but so touching to see how they finally end up," Malo said by phone Thursday. "It's heartwarming to see these pets united with their new owners and to have these wonderful homes to go to. Words can't describe it."
As the trip north began, Dasher was carried away to board Krueger's small plane. His rescuers waved and smiled, knowing it would end happily.
The propeller spun and the engine hummed.
Sick and alone; now safe and sound.
Now dash away, dash away, dash away, hound!