Some stuffed animals have more luck than others. Especially the stuffed tiger Hobbes a boy left behind at the Tampa International Airport which had a lot of fun.
Six-year-old Owen Lake was already aboard a flight to Houston earlier this month when he realized he left his favorite stuffed tiger, Hobbes, behind. His mother called the airport in hopes of rescuing her son’s toy. “We got a call from Amanda Lake who was distraught that her son realized just after getting on the plane that he had lost his Hobbes,” airport operations center manager Tony D’Aiuto tells Yahoo Parenting.
“The dispatcher reached out to housekeeping and they found the doll. We weren’t able to get it to Owen before the flight departed, but we were able to reassure Amanda that he was safe and we’d keep him until the family returned.
D’Aiuto then remembered a story about a museum in England which also had found a lost toy and took it for a trip around the exhibition, taking lots of pictures which then handed to the child along with the toy. There was another museum recently which did the same with a stuffed rabbit. So D’Aiuto decided to do the same with Hobbes.
“I had my lunch break coming up and thought this would be a great opportunity to take some pictures. We knew they would be back in a few days for Hobbes, and I could put together a little photo book for Owen”m he says.
So he took Hobbes to the employee fitness center, met him with an airport ticketing agent. Then with one of the baggage handlers and even the airport firefighters. D’Aiuto teamed up with an airport police lieutenant, and the two took Hobbes all over the airport, even to places that D’Aiuto had never been in his three years on the job. “The lieutenant got me access to areas I can’t go on my own”, he says. Amongst them was the Air Traffic Control tower.
Five days later Owen and his mother returned from their trip and went to pick up Hobbes. They were surpised by the airport staff with the photo book which had documented the stuffed tiger’s adventures throughout the days. “It sounds like he was surprised and his mom was a little bit overwhelmed by the gesture. Their reaction made it all worth it,” D’Aiuto says. He also adds that it is difficult to connect toys with their owners, but he is always ready to get calls from people who have lost stuff at the airport (they can call their airlines, too) and help out.
D’Aiuto says that he loved the adventure himself. He adds that everyone involved loved the idea. Their faces lit up when he told them about his goal and came up with lots of ideas for fun pictures. Now both Hobbes and Owen have a great memory to share.