Pilots program moves PAW deaf Dogo to New Jersey home

"Hermes" taxis at the Fort Madison Airport Monday morning on his way to his adopted home in New Jersey, courtesy of Pilots of Paws, a volunteer network of pilots who fly adopted animals across the country. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC


FORT MADISON – Hermes, in Greek mythology was, among other things, a god of trade and luck.

A former resident of the P.A.W. Animal Shelter, named Hermes, found some luck of his own Monday, when he found a flight to New Jersey to be in his forever home.

Hermes, a white Dogo Argentino with jet blue eyes hasn’t heard since he was born in Granite City, Illinois. The deaf animal was taken into the Fort Madison shelter earlier this year where he began a re-education program with the animal.

“Hermes” gets to meet pilot Jon “Shorty” Hudik on Monday morning in a hand-off at Fort Madison Airport from Fort Madison PAW Animal Shelter Director Sandy Brown. Hudik flies as part of the Pilots for Paws volunteer group that flies pets around the country. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

PAW Director Sandy Brown put Hermes through a training program in Mt. Pleasant conducted by inmates, and then found a home for the animal in New Jersey.

She said an application was sent for the animal to the Fort Madison Shelter by a family out of Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey.

Typically, Brown said the adopting families work out the logistics on moving the animals, but this case was one of just two where the Pilot program has helped move pets out of Fort Madison.

‘These pilots own their own planes and they have a network and if you need, like we did, to get a dog to say New Jersey, they put out to see if anybody is available to help get the dogs to their homes.

She said there are retired truckers that will do the same thing, but she said Hermes high energy, made him a better candidate for a quicker trip.

“We had a lot of people interested in him because he’s a Dogo Argentino which is basically just a big ‘ol white bully dog,” Brown said. “The fact that he’s deaf, a lot of people wanted him, because you know a handicapped dog is cool, but a deaf dog is harder to train. They have to know hand signals and have no recall.”

Brown said it was the fourth deaf dog the shelter has helped just this year.

She said the training they go through a program at the Mt. Pleasant Correctional Center called F.R.E.D. “Furry Rescue Education and Development” where inmates train dogs to reintroduce into society.

‘He came up and went to school and did amazing,” Brown said. “We’ve taken probably 120 dogs up there and 110 have been adopted. It’s a really good program.”

She said Hermes learned sign language but struggled with a vibrating collar.

Dogos, when born with the white coat and blue eyes, are commonly born deaf, Brown said. She said it’s unfortunately common as well, that people don’t realize their animal is deaf, but think they just don’t learn and listen.

Brown said typically the dogs fly in a kennel or carrier, but the pilot flying Hermes, Jon “Shorty” Hudik, out of Dubuque, decided to let Hermes ride in the back seat for the flight to Findlay, Ohio, where another pilot would pick him up for flight to Pittsburgh.

A third pilot would pick him up from there and head to New Jersey, a total of about eight hours.

Hudik, who’s been a licensed pilot for more than 15 years, said he saw an opening for the first leg of this flight and offered to fill in. Hudik is a professional pilot flying with American Eagle and had some extra time.

“Anytime a trip meets our requirements, it’ll send us an email and it’s first come, first serve. I saw everybody volunteer except for the first leg and I was like I’m free today so we started coordinating,” Hudik said.

“We’re all just making it happen. That’s how it works, there’s no central dispatcher or coordinator, everyone just gets together make it happen.”

Brown said this is the second time she’s used Pilots for Paws. The first time, the Pilots program helped move two American Eskimos to St. Louis.

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