WATERFORD — Last weekend, Diane Adams took her dog, Buffy, with her when she went to her boyfriend's house. That wasn't unusual.
Adams took Buffy everywhere with her, said Adams' daughter, Beverly Henry. And, Adams said, Buffy loved going to the home of Steve Simon, where the 10-year-old Australian shepherd-border collie mix could run to her heart's content.
Adams had planned to take Buffy home when she and Simon went to church late Sunday morning, but Simon just attached the dog to a cable he had tied to a tree so she wouldn't run after them. When they returned early in the afternoon, they didn't see Buffy at first.
But then they found her.
"Bees were just swarming around her," Adams said. When Simon and Henry rushed to help, the bees set upon them, too, getting into Adams' hair and stinging Simon on the hand. Simon grabbed a hose and squirted it, which finally sent the bees away.
The couple rushed Buffy to the veterinarian, but she couldn't be saved and died early Monday.
"Buffy had probably conservatively over 50 bee stings," said Craig Brooks, the veterinarian who treated the dog. "She came in and basically she was in shock from all the venom."
The venom attacked the dog's system, causing brain swelling and seizures. Brooks and his staff put Buffy on a ventilator and tried to fight the venom. "We tried into the night some pretty heroic measures," he said.
Brooks said what happened to Buffy is very unusual. Though there have been a few isolated reports of aggressive African bees in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, these were European honeybees that don't normally attack.
"That hive was on alert," Brooks said. "It thought it was under attack, and Buffy ended up being in the wrong place in the wrong time."
Adams and Simon said they thought the property owner of the neighboring orchard had moved some pallets containing hives set up to pollinate the trees, and perhaps one had been knocked over during the process.
But property owner Randy Buckley said that hadn't happened.
"It was just a fluke thing," he said. "I've had bees since I was 15 years old, and I've never heard of that ever."
It isn't unheard of for honeybees to attack, however, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that anyone experiencing an attack quickly run for shelter, pulling up his or her shirt to protect the face. The average adult probably could withstand roughly 1,100 stings, according to the USDA.
Adams and Simon don't think there's any blame to place about what happened -- they said they just want people to know it's possible.
"I wish we would have been more informed about bees and the dangers," said Henry, who said Buffy went everywhere with her mom. "It was like a horror film. Our whole family is saddened by this and we hope and pray that Buffy's death can save others by informing them of the danger."
An account has been set up at the Bank of the West in Waterford to help with veterinarian bills, which amount to more than $2,000, Henry said. Deposits may be made any Bank of the West branch to the account "For Benefit of Buffy Adams."