COASTAL HUMANE SOCIETY staffer Allie Athearn poses with Chisum prior to the canine’s journey home to North Carolina on Friday.

COASTAL HUMANE SOCIETY staffer Allie Athearn poses with Chisum prior to the canine’s journey home to North Carolina on Friday.


Kathy and Nelson Walden were forced to relinquish their dog in Florida when they had to move to North Carolina.

On Friday, officials of the Coastal Human Society, where 9-year-old German shepherd Chisum had been living for the past six months, brought him home.

Chisum is named for a character, John Chisum, in a John Wayne movie of the same name.

The Waldens regretted giving him up the second he left their home.

“We were considering his future health and stable home life when we surrendered him,” Kathy Walden said. “But of all the things I’m sorry for in my life, giving up my dog is the worst thing I have ever done.”

“I got him 9 years ago as a Christmas puppy.”

Six months ago, the Waldens were forced to move temporarily into an RV park with strict regulations on number of dogs and their size.

They worked through the local shelter in Flagler County, Fla., which placed him in a new home.

Shelter officials there reported Chisum was doing wonderfully. Although the man who adopted him had a medical condition, he was really helped by having Chisum for a companion.

“We gave the shelter our new contact information and let them know that if Chisum was ever returned, we would take him back in a second.” Walden said.

The medical condition of the gentleman suddenly declined, and one more time, Chisum found his way to a shelter — this time in Brunswick.

During his intake at CHS, staff picked up on a microchip indicating the dog’s original location as the Flagler Humane Society.

As CHS staff member Allie Athearn delved into his records, she stumbled across a note in his file with a phone number for Kathy Walden.

“I knew it was a long shot that a Florida couple would want, or even be able to reclaim a dog in Maine, but I called them anyway,” Athearn said.

“At first, Kathy was incredulous that the dog they had surrendered in Florida was now living in Maine, but after checking all the details and history we confirmed it was the same dog, even though he had a new name.”

Then Walden said the words that Athearn was hoping to hear: “I don’t care what it costs, or how long it takes, we will find a way to get him.”

“We don’t have any money, and Maine seems like a thousand miles away, but our prayers have been answered,” Walden said. “I believe in God, and we have prayed about this every day. I can’t explain it, but sometimes you do get a chance to fix your mistakes.”

Volunteer Kristin Comee offered to drive the dog down to reunite him with his family, who now lives in a log cabin with several acres of land.

“We plan to meet up somewhere in Virginia, so I can make the trip a bit shorter,” Comee said Friday.

“This is truly one of those highly sought after chances at happily ever after,” CHS Executive Director Karen Stimpson said. “Our mission is to help keep people and pets together.”

To follow Chisum’s story, visit the Coastal Humane Society’s Facebook page.

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