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Stafford County woman has a most unusual rescued pet, a dog shipped to her from almost 5,000 miles away in Hawaii, sight unseen
Date published: 10/21/2010
By CATHY DYSON
Ginna Sapanara has taken in a few rescue dogs over the years, including an Airedale terrier who chewed up everything but the kitchen sink.
But the dog who now lives in her Stafford County home has to take the prize for unusual rescues.
The dog was shipped to Sapanara from the Hawaiian island of Oahu, almost 5,000 miles away. Sapanara and her family were living in New Jersey at the time, and they agreed to take the dog sight unseen.
He belonged to the family of a soldier serving in Iraq with Tim, the oldest of Sapanara's three sons.
When the soldier's wife decided she didn't want to be married anymore, she picked up her purse, took her children and left.
She told her husband, who was in a war zone at the time, to figure things out.
She left the dog in the backyard.
Neighbors on the Army base fed and watered the pooch for three months.
Then Sapanara's former daughter-in-law asked if Sapanara would take him.
Sapanara agreed, and the dog was on a plane the next afternoon.
"He came home on July Fourth," she said. "Talk about being reborn on the Fourth of July."
That was four years ago, and Sapanara and her husband, John, couldn't be happier with the medium-sized dog named Menehune.
That's pronounced "men-eh-HOO-nay," which is a mythical island tribe of little people. Menehunes can be helpful or mischievous, depending on their mood, and Sapanara joked that you don't want to get on the wrong side of them.
The dog is a mixture of Australian cattle dog and German shepherd. At the mention of his name, his shepherd ears stand at alert and he comes looking for attention--to the point that Sapanara referred to him as "you-know-who" so he'd stay in the other room.
"When it's time for him to go o-u-t, I'll say, 'It's time to waltz Matilda,'" she said.
Sapanara believes fate led Menehune to them. Two weeks earlier, the family lost Sweet Pea, a pit bull they'd owned for seven years.
Sapanara had fostered Sweet Pea as a puppy, then decided to adopt her. When she died of cancer, Sapanara wasn't in any hurry to get another dog.
But when she heard about Menehune's good nature, she agreed to give him a home.
He's one of several items the Sapanaras have collected from six trips to Hawaii. They went there to visit Tim, who was stationed in Oahu when he wasn't doing two tours in Iraq.
Sapanara bought a palm tree in Florida to remind Menehune of his island home. She has grown a tai plant, with tropical-looking elephant-ear-size leaves, from two small roots she bought at the Honolulu Airport.
She also has plumeria plants, from whose flowers leis are made. She has brought them inside for the winter, and hopes they'll bloom one day.
The Sapanaras probably won't be making any more trips to Hawaii, because their son may be moving to the continental U.S. They're busy exploring historical features in the Fredericksburg area and taking Menehune on long walks at area battlefields.
"You-know-who just loves that," she said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425