Woodinville family drives 2,600 miles to adopt ‘ugly’ dog in San Diego

It was time to get a second dog, thought Woodinville resident Sherry Lankston. That thought would take her and her family on a three-day road trip to San Diego to adopt a pup that some people were calling “ugly.”

Sherry tells KIRO 7 News that it was time to find a companion for their first dog, River.

River, a labrador slash border collie, or “mutt,” as Sherry said, needed a companion. And she needed to be sure to find the right dog.

Sherry said one night she was “doom-scrolling” before falling asleep when she found a picture of Harvey, who had been at the San Diego Department of Animal Services for the past six months.

She asked Joy, who works at the shelter, about Harvey, and she was told that during the last six months, no one had asked to take him out and meet him. Joy said she would overhear people calling him “ugly.”

Harvey, a husky with a bent snout, may have been bitten in the face when he was a very young pup, which disfigured him on the outside. Inside, Sherry was told Harvey was a happy pup that just wanted a home.

Sherry was told that Harvey was found in the desert, where he was probably lost. He was literally in the middle of nowhere, under a bush with two other pups.

When he was rescued, Harvey was very protective and careful of the two young females as he kept them safe.

Sherry had heard enough. She had to inquire about adopting Harvey. She asked about long-distance adoptions, which the shelter in San Diego had to look into.

But before she would adopt Harvey, Sherry had to be sure he would be a good fit for her family. How would Harvey react to River, and how would Harvey behave with her two children, Harrison, 7, and Finley, a precocious four-and-a-half?

She looked at flights first, but the airfare was too expensive. But with mid-winter break approaching and the kids being out of school, an opportunity arose.

Sherry planned the drive, making the trip to San Diego in three days. Sherry, the kids, and River stopped at camping grounds along the way, sleeping in a cabin.

She bribed the kids with ice cream, promising them they would stop every day for ice cream along the trip.

They left Sunday night and arrived Tuesday evening. Sherry said she couldn’t have had a better trip down there, with the surprising lack of traffic through Southern California.

When they arrived at the shelter, they waited for their first time with Harvey. Sherry said her kids were exuberantly playing with a ball, and she wanted to see how Harvey would react to boisterous children.

Harvey walked in for the first time, where he watched the kids and accepted the noise.

Sherry said that Harvey leaned against her and let Sherry pet him immediately. Harvey even sniffed the kids a bit before nuzzling with them.

Robert, Sherry’s husband, could not make the drive on such short notice but was able to fly down and meet Harvey. Harvey leaned right in for their first meeting.

The last test, River, went well too. There was no aggressiveness or jealousy. Harvey could be a welcome part of the family.

Harvey was adopted about a month ago, and the family drove back to Woodinville with the kids, River, and their new dog, Harvey.

“He’s as happy as can be,” Sherry said.