Snickers the Sea Dog is barely more than a pup, but he's already an old salt.
The 8-month-old pooch spent three months adrift in the Pacific with his owners and a parrot until their 48-foot sailboat ran aground in December on tiny Fanning Island, 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. Snickers and Gulliver had to be left behind as their owners hitched a ride on a cargo vessel.
Then in March, the SOS was sent out in a boating journal that the orphaned critters were to be destroyed on Fanning, one of 33 scattered coral atolls that make up the remote island nation of Kiribati.
As word spread, a bevy of people worked to rescue the cocker spaniel and the macaw, including a man who desperately wants to adopt them: retired Las Vegas resident Jack Joslin.
"I love animals," Joslin told The Associated Press on Friday. "I had two dogs up until the middle of March. Then I had to have my border collie euthanized. The day they called saying the ashes were back was when I read the story (about Snickers). It occurred to me I could do something."
On April 9, Norwegian Cruise Line workers rescued Snickers from Fanning and dropped him off on Oahu island, Hawaii, where he will remain in quarantine until he is flown to Los Angeles.
Hawaiian Airlines, moved by the dog's survival story, has given the go-ahead on flying the animal for free to the mainland, said Peter Forman, a Hawaii-based airlines historian who helped negotiate Snickers' transport.
Forman said he expects Snickers to arrive sometime in the next three days.
The cruise begins
Snickers' original owners, Jerry and Darla Merrow, had set out from California's Moss Landing but their catamaran developed mast problems, said Gina Baurile of the Hawaiian Humane Society.
The boat drifted to the tiny atoll, where it hit a reef and the couple swam 200 yards to shore with Snickers and Gulliver.
Baurile said the pets were left in the care of islanders.
"They don't have the same concept of taking care of pets," Baurile said.
Efforts to contact the Merrows on Friday were unsuccessful. Joslin said he has been unable to contact the pair, and Baurile said she believes the Hawaiian Humane Society never tried to reach them.
"The Merrows got to the point where they had to move on with their lives," said Forman, who is friends with Robby and Lorraine Coleman, a couple with a sailboat off Fanning Island who originally talked to a boating journal about Snickers.
"The Merrows basically signed a release of ownership of the dog," Forman said.
Sending out an SOS
Robby Coleman started watching out for the dog and parrot on the island, Forman said.
"Robby put out the SOS and a lot of people got involved," Forman said.
Contacted by Joslin, the Hawaiian Humane Society took the lead on Snickers rescue.
The organization worked with Norwegian Cruise Line, and a ship was sent out to Fanning Island to pick up the dog, said Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman Krislyn Hashimoto.
The Hawaiian Humane Society provided pet carriers, flea treatment and food, Baurile said.
The dog landed in Honolulu on Wednesday, cleared Customs and has been in quarantine since, awaiting transport to Los Angeles, Hashimoto said.
Getting the parrot off the island will be more difficult, said Joslin, who wants to adopt the animal.
There is a plan to move Gulliver to Christmas Island, near Fanning Island, and eventually to L.A., one of two U.S. ports that accept exotic birds.
"Snickers is going to live with me, I hope, for a long time," Joslin said. "And we're trying like hell to get the bird back here."