EDDINGTON, Maine — Some soldiers in the Maine Army National Guard’s 1136th Transportation Company, who left Maine in mid-March for training in Texas before they are deployed to Afghanistan, sent home a furry present to keep loved ones happy while they are away.
Honey, a yellow Lab mixed breed found scouring for food around Fort Hood by members of the Maine unit, was adopted by them and arrived at Portland International Jetport on Tuesday evening.
“She was real skinny,” Staff Sgt. Kevin Farquharson of Calais said in a Wednesday phone interview from the Lone Star State. “You can tell she was living out of Dumpsters.
“We’re all dog lovers,” he said. “We just took to her. Everybody has attached themselves to this dog.”
The unit’s 170 soldiers, who are based out of Sanford, Bangor and Calais, are scheduled to leave for hostile grounds this week.
After checking with animal control officers on the Texas Army base and the nearby town’s humane society, and hearing that other units had seen the dog hanging around the training area for more than a month, members of the 1136th decided to make her an honorary member.
“She has pretty much been adopted by the company,” Farquharson said. “We just figured she needed a home.”
A camouflage hat was passed among the soldiers, and enough money was raised to take the pooch for a veterinary checkup and to get her shipped to Maine.
“Almost all of the company” gave funds, Farquharson said. “It was enough to take care of the vet bill and the [almost $400] plane ticket home.”
Honey will stay with his wife, Connie Farquharson, and will have a full social calendar over the next year, the staff sergeant said.
“She’ll make the monthly family support meetings, the summer gatherings and she’ll be there when we come home,” he said.
Honey’s first social call was a stop at Eddington School on Wednesday afternoon to visit with a class that includes the daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Jason Willard. His wife, Angela “Angie,” and their children Bethany, 7, Aaron, 5, and Abbey, 4, all got a chance to visit with the canine.
“What she is going to do is visit all the unit’s families,” said Angie Willard of Eddington.
Connie Farquharson set up a Facebook page for the dog, under the name Honey Farquharson, and the dog already has 62 “friends,” many of whom are members, family or friends of the 1136th.
Bangor guardsman Adam Hall wrote on the Facebook page Tuesday: “miss you already honey!!! see you in [Calais] in a year!!”
The unit originally was scheduled to leave Texas for Afghanistan on Monday, then on Tuesday, then Wednesday, but it was postponed each time by volcanic ash, which shut down air travel over Europe.
“We’re just waiting,” Kevin Farquharson said. “We’ve got an anxious unit ready to get over there and get our job started.”
Angie Willard added that “some [of the 1136th] were saying that they were not leaving until they knew Honey got to Maine.”
What the dog has done in her short time with the Maine unit is build camaraderie among the departing men and woman, giving them another positive connection to home.
“She’s had a huge boost on morale,” Angie Willard said. “They both needed each other at the same time. It was love at first sight.”