As the weeks rolled by, Florida resident Geraldine Barthlow tried to keep hope alive that her beloved Peekapoo, Honey, would be found after a thief stole her vehicle with the dog in it during a visit to Houston last month.
Honey served as "flower girl" at her January wedding, where she exchanged vows with Thomas Barthlow, 92, in the Florida restaurant she opened and still helps operate.
The couple received news this week that Honey had been found about a block from a relative's Houston home. The pooch was found by woman who called the couple with the good news.
"I'm just dying to see her," Geraldine Barthlow said in a telephone interview Friday at their Florida home. "I was beginning to lose hope. I would wake up in the morning and she'd be the first thing I'd think about. I'd go to bed at night and she was the last thing I thought about."
The Barthlows stopped at a CVS near FM 1960 and Ella for medication. Geraldine initially waited in their car with Honey but went inside to remind Thomas of other items. The motor to their 2012 Buick Regal, parked in front of the store in a handicap zone, was still running.
The thief moved quickly.
"It was just totally gone in two minutes," Geraldine said. They missed the funeral.
When the couple later called Thomas Barthlow's cell phone, which had been left in the car, a man who answered demanded $100 ransom for Honey, Geraldine said. They couple agreed to leave the cash at a McDonald's and pick up the dog elsewhere. But Honey wasn't there.
In a second conversation, the man demanded another $100. This time, Harris County sheriff's deputies were waiting at the second payoff location and arrested the suspect. It could not be determined Friday afternoon whether the man has been charged in connection with the theft.
Geraldine Barthlow said she "went to pieces" when the woman called her last week with news that Honey had been found.
"I just couldn't believe it, but I had to," she said. "I asked her to put the phone up to her and I'm going to talk to her. She did it, and all I said was, 'Honey, this is momma. Mommy and Daddy love you and we want to see you come home. What did she do? She stood up and wagged her tail. I knew then that it was Honey."
Now, the Barthlows can't wait for her return. They and some friends plan to meet the plane carrying Honey when it arrives Tuesday in Florida. The couple lives in Havana, Fla., northwest of Tallahassee.