The long-awaited reunion for Sheryl Jans with her dog, Koki, who she has not seen in eight years, is set for mid-September, when the Boston terrier is bound for Chicago.
"Koki is coming home via cargo," the joyous Jans said. "She is too large to fit under any seat on an airplane. Evidently a dog needs to be able to stand and turn around under the seat. No dog can travel from Hawaii in cabin because of rules about rabies, from what I have been told."
The embargo is lifted mid-September for snub-nosed animals, such as Koki.
"I am still working out if anybody is traveling with her. Since she will be in cargo, there are hired pet-handlers whose only job is to handle the animals," she said. "It has been an emotional roller coaster. I haven't slept through the night since [late June when I learned where Koki was]. I keep waking up and thinking about [her]."
Jans, 46, who lives in north suburban Round Lake Beach, is a teacher in Lake County. An open lesbian, she is in a committed relationship.
"As sometimes happens in relationships, my [last] relationship ended after nine years, and Koki was 3 years-old back in 2005," Jans said. "I was going to take Koki with me, but my ex would not allow me to. She took Koki and ran her down to her grandma's [house], locking Koki in there. I was unable to get her, [and the] police wouldn't do anything. I had to concede that I could not have her.
"I was devastated. There is something heartbreaking over losing an animal you love. It is not like losing a relationship. It is easier to comprehend if the animal passes away, but if the dog in this case is still alive, it makes it more difficult."
Koki had been at the Kona Humane Shelter on the Big Island in Hawaiiand Jans was tracked down through Koki's microchip.
"Every few days I talk to the people who [are caring for] Koki," Jans said. "Koki is losing her [extra] weight, so she isn't so chunky, and her skin is clearing up.
"When Koki comes home, the first thing I am doing is taking her to the vet to be examined. I want to make sure all is well with her. She will be seeing the vet that she went to when she was with me [years ago]. Then, I am going to take her by my girlfriend's work, so she can meet her. I think it will be a quiet night at home, so she can be reunited with Rummie, [Jans' Himalayan cat], and [also] meet [my dog named] Kona, [and other cats named] Kai and Surf. My sister will probably be there, [too]."