Richmond County Daily Journal
A local family still reeling from the loss of its patriarch is now hoping against hope to avoid losing his best friend.
After losing Benny Pond in October, his 13-year-old mixed breed Baby expressed her grief by sitting in the front yard listening closely for his motorcycle to come rolling up the bypass day-after-day.The family believes she has stopped waiting and is now pursuing him at his second home in Cherry Grove.
“My mom and dad were married for, it would have been 43 years in December,” daughter Lori Franklin explained of Benny and Judy Pond. “It was a very sudden thing losing him, and she’s still grieving over it. Now, after losing Baby too, she’s just devastated. This would be a great Christmas present for my mom if she could get Baby back.”
Franklin said Baby came into the couple’s lives about a dozen years ago, as a small, stray puppy that wandered up in the yard.
“My mom and dad lived close to the 74 Bypass, so we never had dogs because they’d always get run over,” she recalled. “At first, dad wouldn’t feed her, hoping she’d go away, but eventually he started feeding her and they took to each other.”
She said her dad, who was a textile mill veteran without a lot of expendable cash, spent $400 on an eye surgery for the canine, providing her most distinctive feature and their best shot at finding her.
“We found out she actually had inverted eyelids, so there was hair touching her eyeballs, and she would’ve gone blind without the surgery,” Franklin said. “That’s why her eyes look so unique, it’s like she’s wearing eye-liner.”
Because Franklin and her brother are grown and have families of their own, Baby was like the Ponds’ child who was still at home and Benny often took the dog with him on trips to Cherry Grove.
When he passed away at their vacation home, Baby was with him.
“She meant everything to him, he always took her back and forth to the beach with him,” Franklin explained. “That dog went everywhere with him.”
Baby took off from the yard last Thursday evening, and hasn’t been seen since.
The family believes she may be retracing her steps to Cherry Grove in search of her missing master. Highway 38 between the 74 Bypass and Bennettsville, South Carolina is a likely corridor she’d have traveled on this journey.
Baby is a brown, ruddy color. Her eyes are distinctive due to the surgery she underwent as a puppy.
Despite her elderly age, Franklin said she doesn’t walk slowly or with a limp.
A reward is being offered for Baby’s safe return.
Anyone with information should contact Judy Pond at (910) 582-4267, or Lori Franklin at (910) 995-0947.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.