Today I helped transport three sad little pugs named Moe, Marcie, and Lilly. They were all surrendered from a puppy mill in Pennylvania and were being taken to a pug rescue in Vermont. For those who know little or nothing about puppy mills, they are horrible mass breeding places. The dogs are not cared for. The females are forced to have litter after litter until they can no more, and then they are either dumped off at a shelter, dumped on the side of the road...or even worse. The puppies are generally ill and many die from horrible diseases very young while others have medical problems that last throughout their often shortened lives. These three were some of the lucky ones. They were surrendered to a shelter.
I drove down to Binghamton...a luckily uneventful drive. I got going a bit too early and decided o stop off a few places to take pictures with my new camera (a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18). When I finally got into Binghamton, I was still running ahead of schedule and discovered that there was a Botanical Garden right near the meeting spot, so off I went to take more pictures.
The transport was running about 15 minutes late, so around 11:30am, the driver before me arrived. We got the dogs out, walked them for a short bit. I tried to get some pictures, but alas, these kids were not easy to take pictures of, and the driver was talking to me so it was hard to snap off any good shots. We were worried their crates wouldn't fit into my car, but it turned out they were just fine. After loading them up, I was on my way back to Syracuse.
I tried to make up a little time on the way back by driving a little fast, but alas that did not work out so well. There were cops galore out (end of the month and all that). I made it back to Syracuse about 5 minutes earlier and we got the dogs out and into the next person's car quickly. We didn't even take them out of the crates so, unfortunately, I still didn't have much of a chance to take pictures.
The dogs are now off at their rescue association where they'll be socialized and adopted to wonderful new homes!
From a possible three transports, I went down to zero...and then I got the call Saturday morning that the transport for Holly, a lovely chocolate lab, was on. Someone volunteered to take the three missing legs and so she was able to head off to the rescue who had agreed to take her in.
Now Holly was a special case of a sort. Her petfinder.com profile had the following to say:
Holly was hit by a car at least a week ago. The farmer who owned her let her lay in a barn for 3 days before a concerned neighbor called asking for help. She is now under our care and we need your help. She has no outward signs of being hit by a car but she appears to be in pain. She lays around a lot and yelps when we touch her back end. She needs to be seen by a vet or sent to a rescue where she can get the proper medical attention she deserves. She has a wonderful temperament. She wagged her tail while watching us take pictures of other shelter animals. And a little girl wanting to pet her was her motivation for getting up.
So this girl really needed to get to rescue. I heard from the woman I was going to meet and they were ahead of schedule, so I rushed out (forgetting my laptop and some other stuff in the process) and met up with her at about 10:45am or so.
My first impression of Holly was that she was much smaller than I had expected. I didn't realize this, but almost every lab I've ever met has been male! I think she was even small for a female lab...I'd guess she weighed less than 50 lbs. My second impression was that despite being hit, she was doing great! I noticed a little bit of weakness in her back legs. They shook when she let all her weight rest on them. So she's not at 100%, but she was doing pretty well.
After walking her a bit, letting her do her business and getting her a little water, we were off. She was pretty relaxed for most of the trip, though she did shift positions and awful lot. I wonder if it bothered her to lay down. She was very inquisitive and stuck her head up to see me a bit, and then sniffed around the umbrellas in the back of the car. Then she did the unthinkable! I saw her try to get my Erik doll down. Now, for those who don't know what my Erik doll is and why it was so worrying for her to go after him, he's a Phantom of the Opera doll (hence Erik) that I got at CVS on Halloween 1999. I still remember bringing him out to the car and holding him; it was right around the time the show would have ended, closed forever, in Toronto. Erik has guarded by car ever since -- and I haven't been in one accident since then! There have been some times where I was sure someone would hit me, but somehow we didn't collide. Yeah so it's a bit superstitious...but darnit all, Erik protects my car! So...Holly tried to get him. I called her off...twice. And then saw her settle down. I thought that was the end of it, but then I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw he was gone! And Holly had settled down...to chew...something. I could only imagine what it was! I ended up, in a moment of insanity, stopping on the side of the road (yes....the side of the NYS thruway!) to rescue him from her clutches. Luckily, she had only drooled all over him and had ripped his cap off. So, Erik was a bit worse for the wear, but he's still guarding my car!
Holly and I stopped for a short breather a little while afterward and then continued on our way.
We arrived far ahead of schedule and lucky me, no one had called ahead, so I got to spend time with Holly. First we just kind of walked/ran around willy-nilly, but then I decided I could spend a little time working with her to get better walking on her leash. Despite my love of dogs, I've never been totally responsible for training one and I was amazed at how quickly and easily she responded to me. I got her to walk slowly by my side and got her to return to my side when she got over-excited and charged away (especially after leafs!). I would just tug lightly on the leash and she'd rush back to my side and stand there. I'd lavish her with praise and we would walk slowly around. She was great, very responsive, and very smart!
Finally, the next person showed up and it was a quick transfer to get her on her way. The funny thing was that Holly seemed confused and kept trying to come back to me. It took a little while to coax her into the next woman's car. Actually, I guess that isn't really that odd. I seem to have an odd affinity with dogs. Many of them have tried to stay with me. It always makes me smile!
As always, there are plenty of pics. You can find them all here. Here are a few favourites:
It's time for another transport update. This time I was lucky enough to have a lot of updates from foster parents and new adopters, so when possible I'll include their words.
Transport 5 Morey's new family met him and fell in love with him, which was not a surprise. From his new family: Just want to let you know that Morey is now in his new home and all is just great, he met our female Brit Sophie and all seems to be falling in to place...I can't thank you enough, we are just thrilled...Thanks to you and everyone that helped bring Morey all the way to the east coast today, job well done...
Grady is happily ensconced in his foster home and perhaps might even find his forever home with the foster family. From his foster family: Just wanted to let you all know that Grady is here and doing well. After less than 1/2 hour, hubby was already thinking we should keep him.
Transport 6 Lucky is at his new home. From his new family: Lucky is home and doing wonderful. He has met the 4 cats, the 125 pound Rottweiler and the 90 pound K-9. He also met my Bitchy dog last night, the neighbors dog and has done SO very well with my Daughter ( whom I got Lucky for) . What a GREAT little dog he is. He is settling in nicely. Still working on house rules but, we expect that don't we.
Transport 7 Both Jack and Tanner made it safely to their new foster homes. Hopefully they'll find a forever home soon (and if Tanner doesn't by the time we move into a new apartment...perhaps this summer...I know David will want to look into adopting him!).
Transport 8 I handed Roxie off to her foster family last Sunday. They seemed like wonderful, caring people, so I know she'll have a wonderful time there and will hopefully find her forever home soon.
Wendy and Pepper have landed very well with a woman who obviously already adores them. From their new mom:Your amazing Brittany Railroad brought me two beautiful and charming dogs! Wendy sleeps on my bed, and Pepper follows me everywhere. Wendy did not want to eat at first, but finally ate in MY chair at my table. Both love walks, and are very strong, pulling me along where--usually--THEY want to go. Wendy seems to be the strongest. Many thanks to your incredible team (of 15?) for all their efforts. (I see you were a team member as well as organizer!) I'll have pictures later when my daughter teaches me how to attach them. Hopefully we'll see some pictures of these kids in their new homes!
I was set up to do a transport for the Brittany rescue last week, but due to weather in Ohio it fell through. Then they added another two dogs to the group. I contacted the person in charge of it and said I didn't have the room. Rather than find an extra driver, she pulled me off it, found someone with a larger vehicle, and suggested I contact another coordinator who had two senior dogs and a puppy who needed to go. I was all to happy to!
From what I understand, Wendy was a poor dog found as stray and brought into a kill shelter. Some good samaritan, who was there to adopt a younger dog, saw her and since they were going to almost immediately euthanize her, brought her to the Brittany rescue. Pepper was an old guy whose owner was going in for major surgery and then going into a nursing home. So off they went to a new home. Roxie was a sweet mix-breed puppy (Brittany and something else -- we think she looked a bit like a Weimaraner), whose origins I don't really know.
I headed off this morning to pick up Wendy, Pepper, and Roxie in Victor. The drive out was basically uneventful I hit a little bit of snow in Rochester, but nothing that was really worrying. I met up with Roger, who had the trio in his SUV. We got them out, walked them, let them do their duty and all. We chatted for a bit, as I was running ahead and he was quite the talkative type! Really good guy. He had this way of doing the dogs up in his truck that was brilliant and he offered to make me some of those tethers. He also offered me his crate for Roxie (the 4-month old puppy), but I declined as I was worried about room in my vehicle.
We got Roxie into the car first and he managed to tether her up really well. There was no way she was gettng into my lap, which was perfect. Then we got Wendy and Pepper in. I was told we had to help them in and out of the vehicle and that held true for Wendy, with her strange dislocated leg (likely a bad break that healed poorly), but Pepper was able to get in and out with no problem. Luckily, my car is pretty low to the ground.
The drive was entirely quiet, especially compared to yesterday's insanity! The two old dogs immediately curled up and slept. Roxie settled down nicely within the first few minutes and also slept for most of the trip. I couldn't believe how well behaved they all were!
When we arrived, the people picking up Roxie were right behind us. We got her out of the car, walked her and the other two, and then I finally convinced him that it was ok to leave me alone with the old kids. They took off and I crawled into the back seat with Wendy and Pepper and the three of us spent some time snuggling up. The guy who was picking up the seniors finally showed up and after chatting for a bit, we got them into the car and off on their way. They were already curled up before he even took off.
I took a lot of photos and managed to get good shots of all three. Here are some of my favourites:
When the call came out for this Aussie transport, I just couldn't resist. I
Jack is a super-sweet snuggler whom you will surely fall in love with in less time than it takes to drive a leg. So be prepared to leave a bit of your heart behind when you hand him off to the next driver.
Reading further told me that Jack was deaf, leading me to believe that he was a double merle, since deafness is common when you breed two merles together. Merle colouring, for those who don't know, is a sort of dappled colouring. It's a gorgeous colouring (you can see an example here), but it also contains a gene for eye irregularities, sometimes resulting in blindness of some sort and deafness (generally caused by inner ear hair having no pigment...this lack of pigment causes them to atrophy and die in a few weeks, resulting in deafness). Reputable breeders don't breed merles together, but others do, and so you end up with these utterly precious deaf dogs who are often dumped off at shelters when their owners discover the "problem."
Jack was indeed a super sweet snuggler. We also got the addition of the gorgeous Tanner, a 6 month old deaf Aussie. He was incredibly sweet too.
David (my partner) decided to join me for this trip. I've been wanting him to go along and today seemd like a good time to. We had plans in the morning and afternoon, which meant he wasn't likely to get much work done, and I knew he would love these two dogs. Besides, I thought I could use the help with the two dogs.
And boy could I ever! We got the dogs into the car with little difficulty. They were all too happy to go with us. We spent the first bit of time trying to calm them down. Tanner immediately was in the front seat and David got him over to the passenger seat. I kept Jack in the back with me, though that was a constant chore. As we got going, we had a few hairy moments as Tanner kept trying to get into David's lap.
But finally, we made it onto the Thruway just fine. What we discovered about the dogs was that they were both very smart. Tanner turned out to be incredibly laid back. He laid down on the front passenger seat and when David started to pet him, he just shut his eyes in pleasure and then fell asleep.
Jack spent much of the trip either throwing himself into my lap (and I do mean throwing! he was almost violent in his affection) or nibbling on my hands (which sometimes hurt -- I managed to communicate ok to him that it hurt a bit) and then finally, in the last 20 minutes or so, managed to calm down enough to sleep. Poor Jack had gotten into something recently as his hair was matted some places and he had a couple burrs in his fur. I didn't dare remove them for fear of upsetting him.
These were really special dogs and it's hard to describe them correctly. Both had amazing blue eyes with strange eye defects (starburts, dropped pupils, extremely blue eyes). They were smart, gorgeous dogs. Neither had any problem with us petting them when they couldn't see us. Neither appeared deaf, though you could tell they were by the way their ears did not move when we talked to them. But they were so smart that they picked up on small body movements.
Outside of a few hairy moments when Tanner tried to crawl into David's lap, it was a pretty easy trip. John, who was picking them up from us, called as we were arriving and we met him in a slightly different place than we expected. It worked out well though. We very sadly passed the dogs off to him (and worried a bit as he was only one person and it took both David and I to control the dogs) and went our separate ways.
David, especially was saddened to see Tanner go. He really bonded with that great dog.
One does not take up animal rescue without having had experiences that caused him/her to reach that sort of turning point in his/her life.
My experiences with dogs started quite young. My grandmother had a dog, Nippy, an adorable black miniature poodle. I was never certain why her name was Nippy. She had certainly never nipped at me. But then again, looking back, I always did seem to have a strange effect on dogs, this sort of "nurturing" aura of total and complete dog love. At any rate, we would watch Nippy for a couple months out of every year while my grandmother went to Tennessee to visit my Uncle. During those times, Nippy was our dog.
But then there were the 10 months in between Nippy's visits with us that we were dogless. And the clamor went up, from mom and kids alike, to get ourselves a dog, our own dog, a dog that we would have year round instead of for only two months.
My Dad, however reluctant (as he generally is), relented in the face of overwhelming opposition. Thus began a rather strange journey, which consisted various dogs that just weren't right for us: the husky puppy that was too rambunctious for too young children and eventually went on to my Aunt and Uncle; the border collie who my mother rescued from my aunt's cruelty (she tied her up to a dog house for three months and barely paid attention to her), who turned out to be understandably crazy and neurotic, chewed everything, and ran away every chance she got -- even though we loved her dearly, she went off to a friend who lived in the country; the little pet store puppy who turned out to be terribly sick when we brought her home -- distemper and then pneumonia...we'd only had her for two weeks when we had to put her down (for the record, the pet shop was shortly thereafter shut down -- small vindication for the loss of a beloved little puppy).
It was really a sort of comedy of errors and looking back, I can clearly see all the mistakes that were made. My parents were wonderful, caring, pet owners, but they didn't quite know what was right for us at first. No doubt they would be passed over by rescue associations due to those early mistakes. But they made it all right.
They got Pepper. Well, Pepper II, as the little pet shop puppy was named Pepper as well. Pepper II was a sweet wheaten terrier/poodle mix puppy born on Valentine's Day 1984. My mother found out about her through an advertisement in the classified ads looking for people to adopt these dogs, "free to good home." Sometimes the best things in life really are free! The people who had her were certainly not the best people in the world. Their poodle had gotten pregnant by a local Wheaten terrier who had gotten loose. While I loved Pepper dearly, and still do, despite her death occurring nearly 10 years ago now, it's situations like this that remind me why I'm such a strong supporter of spay/neuter programs. The people who owned Pepper's mother clearly did not want to spend the money to spay their dog and the consequence was unwanted puppies. The man seemed to be so angry about this that he would sweep the puppies under the couch when they got in his way! In this way, Pepper learned an innate fear of men. She would overcome it with various men throughout her life, through contact and their demonstrating over time that they would not harm her. But it always took her months to warm up to someone. She was a wonderful dog. And she is still missed.
Three years after Pepper's death, my mother and I again talked my father into a dog. This time we ended up with Teri, another wheaten terrier/poodle cross (though purposely so this time). She was well-cared for and well-socialized as a pup and we ended up with the sweetest, most loving, and most spoiled dog imaginable. She's now almost 7 and she has my parents wrapped around her little paw. I can't imagine how we got along without her for so long! She's loved by everyone she comes into contact with. So loved, in fact, that we're always afraid someone is going to run off with her! She wouldn't make a peep that's for sure. She'd just roll over and try to get the person to pet her belly or hang her head and let them rub her neck.
The dogs we cared for are only one part, perhaps even a small part, of how I ended up here. The story is certainly much longer than I could tell here!
I can remember certain incidents in my life where I was involved, even as a child, in some sort of dog rescue. I recall finding a pregnant dog at one point...some sort of Basset hound or Basset mix. She was extremely pregnant and was wandering aimlessly through our neighbourhood. Because I wasn't sure what my parents would think of her, I hid her in our shed, brought out food to her, and provided towels. At some point, my parents discovered what I was doing, found the poor pregnant dog, and somehow she was either returned to her owner or turned over to the shelter. I was rather young at the time -- this was before Pepper and I was all of 8 when we got her.
I will also never forget Lightning, my aunt's dog. My aunt (and uncle, and cousins) lived with my grandmother for much of her life. I think it was a way to mooch off my grandmother, unfortunately. But...at any rate...she had a dog named Lightning. Looking back, I suppose I would have to call her some sort of yellow lab/shepherd mix. I still have a rather vivid picture of her in my mind. Nippy was allowed in the house. She was small. Lightning was a 50 lb dog and since my aunt was a neat freak to the extreme, Lightning was not allowed in the house. This meant that Lightning spent her life in a cold, damp basement and was occasionally allowed out to romp in the backyard. No one paid attention to her and she always seemed so sad and lonely, stuck in a small gated area in the basement. I don't ever remember her having a dog bed down there, or anything resembling someplace comfortable and warm to rest her body. When we went to my aunt's house for Christmas every year, I eventually ended up in the basement, sitting down in a place that smelled entirely of dog urine (as they never let Lightning out enough) and playing with this poor beautiful dog. I spent many an hour sitting down there with her, just petting her and giving her some much needed attention. She would perk up as soon as I came down the stairs, her great tail sweeping arcs at such a speed I was sure it would fall off...or launch her into the air. Every year, I would ask my aunt if we could let Lightning up, just for the day, let her enjoy Christmas with friends and family. The answer was always no..."she's too big, too messy, too in the way." So off I went into the cold and dampness to be with her since I couldn't bring her to us. One year I did actually just let Lightning out and she careened up the stairs with me close on her heels. My aunt was angry and no one seemed to understand that Lightning needed people. I know now, as an adult, I would have done more to help her. I would have found a way to get her out, find her a new home with people who would let her stay with them upstairs. But I was young and had no influence, no way to go about what needed to be done. In a lot of ways, I still feel like I failed that sweet dog somehow.
There were plenty of other dogs in my life, some in good places, some in not so good places. There were the dogs I've come to dub "The Paper Route Dogs." those dogs I met daily in my travels on my middle school paper route. Shadow, an older black lab mix was owned by an elderly lady and loved dearly. I used to bring her biscuits when I came to collect the money and Shadow was always thrilled to see me and would push herself up against me, nearly knocking me to the ground in her exuberance to be petted. There was the miniature schnauzer, whose name I have long since forgotten, who always had a reddish face from being fed spaghetti. And the St. Bernard puppy who grew at such an alarming rate that I could notice the size difference from one week to the next. But then there were the dogs who were not in the best place. There was the Irish setter, a poor creature left in a fenced in yard with little attention. She would bark...and bark...and bark some more. They told me she was mean, but whenever I approached, her barking was coupled by a wagging tail and she's sniff my hand through the fence, occasionally give me a little lick. Pooper, the beagle, was no doubt well-loved, but his owner never had his collar done up properly and he would slip it. This always seemed to happen just as I approached his house and the next thing I knew, I had a little companion on the rest of the paper route. Pooper would follow after me and I would occasionally reach down to pet him. He would follow me down the road, around to the next block and all the way back to my house. Like the Pied Piper of dogs, I generally showed up with some creature at my heels. And then there was Tackleberry. Ah, dear, sweet Tackleberry. Tackleberry was an absolutely gorgeous young English springer spaniel who lived on the corner of Ivanhoe and Heather. The problem for Tackleberry? His owners didn't care if he was loose. If he had to go out, they'd just let him out the front door and not worry about him. While we didn't live in an area with truly heavy traffic, there were enough cars to be constantly worried about him. The good news for Tackleberry? He would always find me on my paper route, sometimes far from his house, and he would spend the rest of the route with me, and like Pooper, he would follow me home. Sometimes the two did together. My mother would take one look at me and my entourage (which also sometimes included a cat) and we would hop in the car and drive the dogs back to their houses, knocking on doors and explaining that their dogs had, once again, followed me home. Tackleberry came to a sad end, that we know of. My mother, some years after I was off at college, my mother ran into Tackleberry's owners while on a walk. She noted she hadn't seen him for some time and wondered what had happened to him. They told her they had him put down because they "didn't want to put up with him anymore." My mother was shocked. I was outraged. I don't think I could speak to that family ever again. A little part of me hopes the vet claimed they put him down and really found another home for him. He was a great dog, but understandably unruly!
Other dogs have had great influence on my life: There was the dog I truly rescued one late night in Terre Haute, Indiana. I was driving down the road when I saw someone hit a dog. The person kept going and the dog rushed off to the side of the road. I didn't even stop to think about what I was doing. I pulled into gas station across the road and rushed across 4 lanes of heavy traffic to get to the dog. He was laying in the grass on the side of the road and when I approached pulled himself up and came over to me. He wasn't wearing a collar and so very likely was one of the city's strays. This might scare a normal person, but not me. I squatted down and let him come over to me. He seemed fine. He was walking ok, but there was a little blood coming from his nose. I wasn't sure what to do and so I walked a few paces away. Of course, he followed me. And so I knew I had to do something. I got him to follow me all the way across the road and back to the gas station. I went in to talk to the cashier, see if he knew what to do. It was late, so I knew the humane society would not be open. I thought maybe I could talk to the cops. The cashier's reaction was to tell me not to..."the last time someone did that, the cops took the dog out back and shot it." No way in hell was that going to happen. I eventually got an emergency number for the humane society and a woman came out to take him off with her. I spent a total of two hours with that dog...about an hour or more of it, sitting outside the gas station with this dog who was laying down on the sidewalk, looking as forlorn as could be. A lot of people passed by me, some stopped to talk, asked about the dog, and shook their heads when they found out he was a victim of a hit and run. A lot of people thought it was great what I was doing. When the humane officer finally showed up, around midnight, she took a look at the dog and thought he was done for, thought it was internal bleeding. I gave the woman my number and asked her to call and tell me what happened to him. She called me the next day and told me it was just a bloody nose and they would be washing him up and helping him find a new home.
It's for that injured stray dog, for dogs like Bandit who were tied up (some for much longer than Bandit), for dogs like Lightning who were forced to live their lives in a dank basement with little human attention, that I do what I do. If I can give one dog a chance to have a new life with loving people, then I feel good about having lived my life. It means that I've done something worthwhile with it. And living a worthy life is all important to me.
I have been talking about my dog transporting endeavour with a lot of people and I've gotten a fair amount of questions from them, many of the same, so I thought I'd write up an FAQ on what it is I do. Do you work through a particular organization, like the Humane Society? No. This is set up by various rescue organizations in the USA and Canada. Someone finds dogs (or cats or bunnies or horses) from a place where they're in dire need of help (kill shelters, etc.) and says "I can take this animal into my rescue." From there, the coordinator puts out a call for people to help and if they can fill the transport, the run will go.
How do I find out about these transports? I made a post earlier with some information, so you can read more about it there. Basically, I use one of two major sites to find out what's going on each weekend: Acme Pet Transport has a message board where I look for transports in my area. You can also post your information so that those looking to fill a transport can contact you. The yahoo group, Canine Rescue, also has information on transports. It's a very busy group, so I find it easiest to filter them to one folder and search for messages that contain "NY."
How exactly do these transports work? How do you get these animals across country? Each person will volunteer for one leg of a longer trip. You drive your leg, meet up with the next person, and then pass the animal(s) off to them.
What kinds of animals are being transported? There are transports for every animal imaginable, from rabbits to cats to dogs to horses. I mainly focus on dogs, since dogs are my passion. The dogs can be of any size. I've transported two 5 lb beagle puppies and a St. Bernard/Bernese Mountain dog puppy who was 10 months old and weighed over 85 lb.
How do I know specifically what animals are on each transport? Each call for transport will include information on the dog(s) needing help, including age, gender, neutered/spayed, weight, and any personality information they know of. They will tell you if the dog needs to be crated or tethered (tethering is clever way of keeping the dogs in the car when you open the door -- you do up the seatbelt through the loop in their leash -- this means that even if the dog tries to bolt when you open the car door, they're safely attached).
How many animals go on each transport? This varies greatly. I've been on some transports where I've taken just one dog. Those are generally the easy ones! I've also been on two transports where I've taken three dogs each time. I've seen transports that have had several animals (upwards of 15 or more!) where they required 2, 3, or even 4 drivers for each leg.
I only have a small car. Can I still do transporting? Yes! I drive a 1998 Chevy Prism. It's a pretty small car. Having a small car just means you have to pick and choose which transports you can comfortable do. If there are too many dogs or too many large dogs, you just don't do it. There are plenty of transports for just one dog or for a couple smaller dogs. You do what you can. Any bit helps!
I don't own a crate of any size. Can I still do transporting? Yes! Some dogs will need to be crated, but many will not. I've only used my crate once on a transport (though I wish I had brought it for another one!). The rest of the times I've tethered the dogs.
How do I know a transport is going through my area? How do I know which legs are available? Each post for the transports is set up in a very specific way to make it as easy as possible for the coordinators to fill and the volunteers to find a leg they can cover. Here is an example of part of a run sheet:
Leg 4 Fredonia, NY to Buffalo, NY 47 mi, 1 hr 10:45 AM – 11:45 AM NEEDED: Leg 5 Buffalo, NY – Henrietta, NY (Rochester) 69 mi, 1 hr 20 min 11:45 AM – 1:05 PM NEEDED:
Leg6 Henrietta, NY – Syracuse, NY 85 mi, 1 hr 35 min 1:05 PM – 2:40 PM FILLED
Looking at the sheet, you know exactly what time, how far, and where the legs are. You know what has been filled when the message is sent out and what hasn't been filled.
What happens to the dogs if a transport doesn't get filled? I've seen a handful of these transports not get filled (a surprising amount do) . Generally, they try to fill it the next weekend. I've also seen transports get postponed due to weather. I live in an area of the country that is precarious for weather (snow/ice/wind/sleet/etc.) from about November to April. I've had transports I was supposed to help with postponed and I've helped ones that were postponed.
Ok. I want to get involved...how does all of this work? Let me lay out the steps for it all:
1. Find a leg of a transport you're interested in taking.
2. E-mail the transport coordinator. Be careful when e-mailing! These are often crossposted by some well-meaning person, so the person who is sending the e-mail you received might very well not be the transport coordinator. The information they'll need from you is your name, e-mail address, home phone number, cell phone number, and car information (make/model/sometimes license plate #).
3. The transport coordinator will get back to you and let you know if the leg you wanted is taken or if they now have you down for the leg.
4. They will generally put you on the list of people involved in the transport at this time, so you'll get updates as to whether or not the transport is filling. Hopefully all the legs will get filled by the time the weekend rolls around!
5. Once it's filled, the coordinator will send out an e-mail with everyone's information on it. if the transport is monitored, they will also include their phone number.
6. At this point, you should contact the person before and after you to find out where they want to meet. In NYS, where I do my driving, we often meet at the park and rides right at the Thruway exits. People also meet in hotel parking lots, gas stations right off of exits, etc. Generally people who have been doing this for awhile have spots they prefer for meeting so let them guide you in picking a spot.
7. During the transport, if you're one of the later legs, you will get multiple updates from the coordinator letting you know how things are going, if anything has come up concerning the dogs (fighting or health problems), and if the transport is running ahead or behind. You will occasionally even get pictures of the dogs forwarded from others who have already done their legs.
8. Plan to arrive at the meeting spot about 10 minutes before the other person is supposed to arrive. This is especially important if there are multiple dogs. You can help each other get the dogs out, walk them, and let them get a potty break. Things go much smoother when there are more people there to help out!
9. When the other person arrives, the first thing you want to do is get the paperwork. I know that going right to the dog will be awfully tempting! But most of these dogs are traveling with important paperwork and sometimes even food. You'll want to have that in the car ahead of time.
10. Once you take off and drive your leg, you will repeat the procedure at the next stop on the trip. Again, make sure you hand off the paperwork before the dog! Often, people will give the dog a little bit of water between legs. Since they are allowed a potty break every hour to hour and a half, this is ok.
11. Once the dog is off with the next person, you need to call the transport coordinator and update him/her on the progress. That way the rest of the group still yet to go is kept up-to-date.
12. At this point you're done! You can now go home, feel good about what you did, and upload any photos you took that you want to share! I always take my camera along so I can keep pictures of all the dogs I've helped.
Should I bring anything with me on the transport? I always make sure I have the following items: paper towels, a pooper scooper, some plastic bags (i.e. like the ones you get at your grocery store), a pet blanket, an extra leash, a bowl and some water, and some old towels. I also always bring a book (in case you arrive too early or the transport is running behind) and my camera.
Phew! I think that's all I can think of for now. Please comment if you have any questions.
Yesterday was probably the transport that went the least well and had me the most frustrated. The morning started off with a lot of snow and wind...blizzard conditions. I wasn't even sure that we could make it with that weather. But luckily, it started to peter out just before I needed to leave. Well, the snow did at least. The wind was crazy all day.
I decided to head out around 8:10am, knowing I needed to pick up Lucky at 8:45am on the other side of town. I unlocked the car, grabbed my snow brush, and then went to shut my door. It wouldn't shut. This has happened any number of times to me. Something with the locking mechanism and ice. Usually once the car heats up a little, it shuts just fine. I brushed the car off and it still wouldn't shut. I sat in the car for another 10 minutes and the door still would not shut! I started to panic. The door handle was floppy feeling, as was the mechanism that keeps the door shut. Nothing. Dead. In a real panic, I called the person I was supposed to pick Lucky up from and told her my dilemma. After some confusion (it turned out that she had been misinformed and thought I was driving in from a town over 60 miles away instead of from the other side of town), the door finally shut and I decided to get in from the passenger's side and head out.
To top everything off? I opened the passenger side door and WHAM, the piece of paper that I had put all the information I needed for the transport on flew off. The wind just took it. There was no catching it. The winds were gusting at over 30mph. I was not going to be able to catch up to that little piece of paper. Luckily, I remembered the directions to the house and got there only about 3 or 4 minutes after the scheduled pick-up time (how was that for luck?).
I arrived, threw some more windshield wiper fluid in the car, and got Lucky into the car. And then the real challenge began! Lucky was nervous. Very nervous. He was panting and shaking and as soon as I sat down, he crawled into my lap. Mind you, I needed to drive. I actually drove all the way from her house to 690 to 481 and to the Thruway entrance with a 15-lb dog on my lap! Yikes. I was not really comfortable with that as it made maneuvering the car difficult. I kept trying to get him over to the passenger seat but it was a no-go (and at one point he tried to turn around on my lap and caused my horn to blare multiple times!). I had to stop at the park and ride and tether him up in a different way that wouldn't allow him onto my lap.
He did finally settle down to some degree, but he was extremely restless for the entire trip.
The trip across the thruway, at least, was fairly uneventful. The roads were ok, just a bit wet, and there wasn't much traffic. We arrived in good time and I took Lucky out for a short walk. The wind was bitter, so we got back into the car until the next folks arrived.
To top everything off, I brought my camera, but forgot I took the memory card out. Since my camera doesn't even have any internal memory, I was screwed out of taking any pictures of the little boy. Oh well. One person on the transport did at least get a picture of her, her husband, and Lucky.
So here you go, the one and only picture I have of poor little Lucky.
So I was off on the road again to help the dogs! This is really becoming a fairly regular thing. Today's transport was set up by a Brittany Spaniel rescue and consisted of two Brittanies: Morey, a 1-year-old orange/white and Grady, a 5-year-old liver/white. Both were really wonderful sweet dogs, but Morey was really quite the handful!
The trip out to Rochester was uneventful. I drove through small bits of snow here and there, but the roads were mostly clear all the way out to exit 46. I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare, got to relax just a little bit before the dogs arrived.
Than came the fun part! We got Grady out of the car first and tethered him into my car. We turned around to get Morey and when we turned BACK to the car, discovered that Grady's leash was long enough for him to get into the front seat. Uh oh. I hadn't counted on that! Well, we got Morey into the car and then I hopped in...Grady immediately went to the back seat and so it was time to go.
But...Grady crawled onto the passenger seat just as I started the car up. And Morey? Morey put both paws up on the seat and proceeded to lick my face and try to eat my hair! It was hilarious. I finally got him to settle down (a bit) and so I was able to head on out.
The beginning of the trip was fairly uneventful. Grady stayed on the front seat where he got a lot of attention and Morey set to ripping apart my blanket. But things soon got a little crazier. Grady decided to go sleep in the back seat. All well and good. But I quickly discovered that Morey could come up front too. And he did. And he didn't really leave for the rest of the trip. It was nice at first. He looked out the window, nudged me for a hand. I petted him, he licked me, he rolled over, and was just too cute. But then I think he discovered all the other things up front in the car! He chewed a hole in my scarf (I'll have someone sew it). He chewed on my gear shift (which now has some lovely teeth marks all over it). He tried to eat my little stuffed dog. He tried to eat the cords to my Zune, the case to my Zune, my diet coke bottle (with diet coke IN it), the change I had sitting out (quickly put in the ashtray), the plastic bag, my gloves. I managed to pull a towel up and a leash, and he wasn't interested in those! Oh of course not! I could just see what was going through his head.
Morey: Oooo glove! Me: No...no glove. Morey: Ooooo cords! Me: No...no cords! Morey: Oooo...PLASTIC BAG!! Me: No!!! No bag! Here Morey...try this tasty towel. Morey: What? Are you freaking kidding me? You're allowing me to chew it. That makes it not as interesting!
So yeah...towel did NOT really go over well. I had to laugh...it was pretty funny. Not the easiest thing to deal with on the road, but just freaking hilarious!
He did finally settle down. At exit 39. About 5 miles from the stopping point! Silly doggie. The handoff happened quickly and easily. I wonder how the next girl fared. She tethered Morey down pretty tightly so hopefully he wasn't able to create as much havoc as he did in my car (her response was: "he can't chew on my car! it's a lease!" Oh dear.
A few of my favourite pictures of the crew. The rest can be found here.