A heartwarming tale unfolded as fate intervened to reunite a woman with a stray dog she had tried to help back in 2018. Aria Keilbach, who had relocated from Pueblo, Colorado, to the island of Saipan, established the Boonie Babies Saipan, a rescue organization for dogs. In a touching video shared on TikTok, Keilbach recounted her encounter with a feral dog, whom she affectionately named “Pretty Boy.” Despite her persistent efforts to gain his trust, the elusive dog remained distant but would wag his tail whenever she returned home.
Their bond was interrupted when a super typhoon struck, causing Pretty Boy to vanish, and Keilbach had to move to a new house. Little did she know that destiny had a surprise in store for her six years later. Upon settling into her new home, Keilbach was astonished to spot a familiar face down the street – it was Pretty Boy! The reunion brought tears of joy to the viewers as the video captured the emotional moment when the stray dog recognized and looked straight at Keilbach.
Saipan, being the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific, is home to numerous “boonie dogs,” the local term for stray dogs with ancestry tracing back to canines brought to the islands during World War II. These free-roaming strays comprise various breeds, including German shepherds, beagles, Labrador retrievers, Dobermanns, greyhounds, and Chihuahuas.
Keilbach’s passion for helping animals started at a young age of 16 when she began distributing food to strays while driving around. Over time, her dedication grew, leading her to engage in rescue efforts, fostering, and providing medical care to neglected dogs. However, the situation for stray dogs on Saipan became even more challenging in 2020, when United Airlines suspended its PetSafe Travel Program. This suspension forced families relocating off the islands to abandon their pets, adding to the struggles faced by people like Keilbach, who were trying to support these animals.
In an article she wrote for Pacific Island Times, Keilbach highlighted the devastating consequences of United Airlines’ decision, as it hindered efforts to control the stray dog population and led to premature deaths of animals that required off-island medical attention. Unfortunately, the airlines’ inability to reinstate the PetSafe program was attributed to a lack of veterinarians on contract and designated animal relief areas.
TikTok users were deeply moved by the heartwarming reunion video, expressing their love and concern for dogs’ well-being. The emotional connection between Keilbach and Pretty Boy touched many, reminding everyone of the importance of protecting and caring for these vulnerable creatures.