Thanks to the power of social media, a man and his best friend have been reunited. Last week we brought you the story of Handover, the dog who was stolen on May 8 from owner James Bryan. The Hudson, Florida pair are homeless, and after losing his wife to cancer, his farm and his job, Handover was all that James had left.
Two women started a Facebook Page called “Help Find Handover,” which has garnered nearly 5,000 likes. The page’s administrators, Paulina Dudkowska, and Carolyn Texter, a friend of the man, have worked tirelessly to stay in contact with and provide comfort to James, make and distribute fliers, contact local media, set up a reward fund and share updates with fans of the page.
Though there were a few negative comments from people who believed that Handover would be better off with someone who had a home, an overwhelming majority of commenters supported James, knowing that his dog is treated better than many:
Amie Lewis I tried to “rescue” a dog from a homeless person once and he looked me in the eyes and I’ll never forget what he said: “but that’s my best friend.” [It] made me realize that just because it may not be the home I’d prefer the dog to be in…doesn’t mean he’s not in the best hands. That taught me a lot. I pray he finds his dog.
Linda Reising I’ve seen how the two were together; I have seen this man in the winter wrap Handover in his jacket to keep warm. James does love Handover very much; I have seen it with my own eyes. To those who talk about James, if you went through what he has gone through you would drink as well. Period – I’ve seen a glimpse of Jesus in this man.
Sara Hayden I work in the area where James and Handover spent a lot of time. James always put Handover before himself. Handover would be in the shade or under the rain cover, while James was exposed to the elements. I pray he is found safe. It breaks my heart to see James alone each day.
Cynthia Rainis I talked to James yesterday. He is still hopeful and can’t believe all the people that are helping. He misses his friend terribly and I am so sad for him. What kind of person steals someone’s dog?! I don’t know what to say to him that is comforting but realistic. Please God, help Handover to come back to the person who raised him and loved him all these years. Losing a beloved pet leaves such a big hole in your heart.
Because of the fliers Carolyn and Paulina put up, James has been reunited with his beloved Handover.
According to the page, “From what I understand from the gentleman, Dan, who returned Handover is that he found Handover on US 19 very early one morning almost 2 weeks ago. He and his girlfriend, Angel, took Handover home and took care of him. They came across one of our fliers/signs and called us. After comparing characteristics and sending us a picture, we asked to see the dog in person. They brought Handover up to the intersection where James has been camped since Handover went missing. It was an amazing reunion when both James and Handover saw each other.”
“Thank you to all of you who have helped find Handover! This has been an amazing day! James and Handover are safe and comfortable in a hotel room. We have some amazing pictures. We will post those tomorrow. The couple who returned Handover did not accept the reward. They asked that it be used to help James and Handover. For those of you asking how you can contribute to help James, you can continue to make monetary donations via Paypal, [email protected]. We are meeting with James tomorrow to plan finding him a home and a job. We will post tomorrow any addition support that he will need. Again, thank you all for your prayers and support for James and Handover.”
James is shocked by and eternally grateful for the tremendous outpouring of community support. He says that he is truly blessed.
“I fell to my knees and started crying like a baby,” he said. “Of course I’d been bawling for two weeks. Every morning, I’d get up and he’s not here. It’s like losing one of your kids.”
Handover was a gift from his soon-to-be deceased wife to make sure James would not be lonely. When she asked what he would call the dog, he simply replied, “Hand ‘im over.” The name sort of stuck, and the two have been best buddies since that day five years ago.
After their reunion, James and Handover were treated to a stay in a hotel, thanks to the generous donations of concerned citizens. James said it was great, but that Handover kept kicking him out of bed and stealing his pillow. Handover was also taken to a veterinarian for a check-up, who said the dog is in perfect health. Handover was microchipped to make sure he will be easily identified in case he ever goes missing again.
Donors are glad to see the little family back together, and are hoping that the support for them will not stop here:
Vanessa Tobin I wonder if we could set up a fund for James to help him get back on his feet. I would be happy to give a monthly contribution.
Others have agreed that they would be glad to help. Tammy Alleman suggested that James become a dog walker – this way, Handover could always be with him.
“Paulina and I thank you all so much for all of your help and support. We also appreciate your patience as we try to get to all of the comments and messages. I have learned some valuable life lessons that I will certainly share with my children. I have gotten to know James & many of the other homeless people that choose this Beacon Woods area as their home. I have only been treated with the utmost respect (more manners here then I see at my children’s schools!). I have seen a community support these folks by saying HI, giving some food, giving some loose change and more. I have also seen the ugly side they have to endure. People driving by in their cars screaming profanities and awful things. Almost being hit by cars because the driver’s think it’s funny or don’t care. People stealing what little they have. Having to endure the extremes of the weather. I never thought myself a weak person but I know I am not strong enough. I thank God everyday for all that I have and I will no longer take for granted WHO and WHAT I have, for it can all be gone with a blink of an eye. It has been my honor and privilege to help James find Handover and I thank them for all they have taught me. If you find these people annoying, please try a different approach – a little common courtesy goes a long way. Don’t kick someone when they are already at their lowest. Try helping just one….and see what happens. Again, thank you all for your support for James and Handover. ~Carolyn.”
Tomorrow is James’ birthday, and he said he has already received the greatest gift by getting Handover back.
To contribute towards James and Handover’s care, please visit PayPal.com. (I’m not sure, but you might need to have a PayPal account to do so.) Under the tab labeled “Transfer,” type in your email address and send to [email protected]. When you have sent the money, you will be told that you have just sent _____ to Carolyn Texter. For more information, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/HelpFindHandover