ANCHORAGE - A new home awaits Buddy, the black Labrador retriever that stayed by his dead owner's side for 12 days after a tree-cutting accident on a remote Prince William Sound island.
The dog is headed for the Alaska Peninsula village of Chignik. There, he'll take up residence with Chignik Mayor Jim Brewer and his wife, Polly Aleck. The couple was selected out of 1,000 people who wanted to adopt Buddy after the dog's story drew national attention last week.
"I just have a feeling they are going to be a real match," said Marilyn Stowell of Spokane, Wash., owner of a Knight Island lodge where Buddy's owner worked as a caretaker. Stowell decided Tuesday afternoon to give Buddy to Brewer. "He's the man for Buddy. I think they are going to be soul mates."
The caretaker, Bill Hitchcock, 45, was struck and killed by a piece of a tree he was cutting down for firewood Feb. 15. Buddy waited near Hitchcock's body until leading searchers to it Feb. 27.
Since then, the dog has been staying temporarily with John Lunetta, the village public safety officer in Chenega Bay. On Wednesday, Buddy was being flown to Anchorage to be picked by Brewer and Aleck.
The couple plans to take Buddy home with them Friday after getting him shots at the Alaska Humane Society and a checkup by a veterinarian.
Aleck heard about Buddy's plight when she and Brewer were in Anchorage for business and shopping. Aleck persuaded her husband they should seek adoption of Buddy.
"My wife's interest was sort of piqued by Buddy's personality and his loyalty, and she just felt that this would be a good dog," Brewer told the Anchorage Daily News.
Stowell said Chignik's small population and seaside location are a similar environment to Knight Island, where Buddy and Hitchcock were the only residents eight months out of the year.
"The life out there for Buddy will be a typical Alaskan wilderness sort of life," Brewer said. "He's going to run the beaches and have lots of interaction with wild animals. And hopefully he'll be a good companion."