Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Yogi

I wish I was writing this to shout from the rooftops about Yogi's amazing new family... but that is not how his story ended... On 4/2/14 at 10:37 am, Yogi slipped away.

This may come as a shock after my first post; it surprised us too. Concerned with Yogi's hair-loss we had the vet check him out: blood-work, scans, etc. This scans found the problem... a large mass on his spleen. We thought he has allergies... it was cancer.

In foster Yogi was a good boy. He played well with others, learned the house rules and I pushed hard to try to get people interested in him. He had a special Valentines and St Patrick's day picture showcasing his adorable face.

But it was to no avail, "Home" was not part of Yogi's path... When Gisele called me and told me what they had found, I cried and cried. It wasn't fair. He had been in a shelter, then adopted and returned, and now finally he was getting a chance at a real home and he had cancer.
And Finally I remembered that Rescue's job is not simply finding homes, 
it is doing what is right for the dogs. 

Yogi was going through each day, keeping a smile on his face though he didn't feel good. He didn't seem to be in terrible pain yet, but as the cancer spread, it would come... I didn't want that for him... neither did Gisele, and the vet agreed, Yogi wouldn't survive this.

So early on April 2nd, Gisele took Yogi to the vet. He had a quiet room (a crossing room, not an exam room) with nice carpet, fluffy blankets, and comfy chairs. It was more like home, and less like hospital. He loved his big fluffy blanket.

Next was a huge can of of awesome wet food (the kind with real meat in it that you, as a human, might just split with your dog. Yogi loved it. He ate it, but he did so slowly, like he was really going to take the time to just enjoy the moment. It was an awesome treat, but it was his awesome treat.

And then there were cuddles and pets. Yogi was held and loved up as it was time to cross. He had one of the best techs in the world with him, and she was sad too. They knew yogi and loved him too; they cried with us. And yogi slipped away, snoozing in loving arms.
Gisele and the tech stroke Yogi's face.
It wasn't how we pictured his story ending, but I remind myself his story could have ended much differently. It could have ended in the shelter, it could have ended shortly after going to a new family and breaking their hearts... I am glad that Yogi stayed with us.. and now he always will...

I am crying even as I type this, because Yogi was SUCH a good boy, I would have had him as my own if I didn't already have a dog. He was sweet and gentle, and very expressive. I am so glad we took him in... and I remember so vividly standing outside with him at the shelter, on the phone with Gisele, and she asked me if I thought we should take him... and I said yes.  ... Run Free Yogi.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

And then... There were too many dogs to count! (Pharrell & Fred)

Today I helped transport 200 dogs. ...Okay you caught me. I didn't transport them all, I only transported two big boys, but on March 1st at  around 11AM the Pilots N Paws planes began flying away from Bainbridge, GA. The final destinations (all in Florida) included: Clearwater, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Stuart but first they touched down in Port Orange, in a community known as Spruce Creek. It has it's own, private airport and the community's tagline is "Spruce Creek, where everyone owns a plane." Frankly, I was surprised they let me in the gate!

Laura Burke and I had just finished walking in the Mardi Gras Parade in Deland and manning our booth to let others know about The Dog Liberator, but as 2 o-clock grew near we apologized for having to leave and explained It's transport time" and off we went.

After making it through the back-roads, the security gate, and across the landing strip (yep, i stopped at a stop sign that said "Please watch for landing planes!") we finally were directed to "the big tree" where other transporters were waiting. A short while later the first of  probably close to 10 planes (some making multiple trips I believe) landed and chaos ensued.

"Yes, Gisele? What did the pups look like? It is Crazy here!"

The community had come out to help, and for this we were very, very thankful..... however, some people listened to instructions better than others.
"G, there is a tangle of puppies beside me,
I'm gonna have to call you back!"

We warned everyone, "Remember which plane you took the dog from so you can return it there! Please do not swap dogs!" but... that didn't happen. Most were too excited about playing with puppies and cute dogs and immediately took dogs from each plane, got them water, let them pee, swapped, traded, forgot where the pups came from, etc etc...
The whole Community came out. Here are their golf-carts and some of the planes that had arrived.

Our big boys, Pharrell  and Fred arrived early in the flights. Two couples volunteered to walk them and I explained that these dogs would be traveling with me, they were not to hand them off, and if they needed to leave to bring the boys to me. They agreed and I must say I was incredibly impressed with them. Even when Pharrell and Fred bounced around, drug them around, and generally were overly energetic due to being cooped up in a plane and/or crate all morning, these volunteers were awesome and kept to their word.

Safe & Sound at the Vet
 Then the first of Laura's puppies arrived. Her family helped keep them separated from the other dogs (same with Pharrell and Fred) which turned out to be incredibly important, because of what happened next.

As I helped lift a crate of small puppies from the plane, I smelled copper... and that means one thing. Parvo. I have yet to confirm if any of the dogs/puppies were ever confirmed to have it, but I knew what I smelled and warned the ground crew.

They freaked a little, and called over a retired veterinarian who happened to be there. I explained what I smelled and he agreed it was possible. We kept all dogs from that flight contained and kept checking others, after lots of sanitizing. All it takes is one sick pup, and then every pup is at risk.

I wish I could tell you more about what Parrell, Fred, Laura, and the pups did during this time, but I was too busy unloading planes and looking for the remainder of our pups while coaching the volunteers. Most were very helpful, but some I had to teach how to walk "leash-shy" pups, and others I had to ask to coach their own, small children who were "helping" in not so helpful ways...

Luckily no dogs ran and only one was "lost" when a family "adopted it (took it) from the tarmac... the dog was later found and the situation was handled. Amazingly, we only found the dog because I took a few group shots (held up the camera and snapped a picture of everything going on around me)  and just happened to catch a shot of a man walking away with the dog. Talk about luck! The neighbors helped identify him and the very shy dog was recovered.

 The very last flight arrived around 6pm and there were the rest of our pups. We loaded up all the dogs (after separating pups that did and did not have mange; ouch!) and I loaded Pharrell in a crate in my back seat (he loaded up well) and then shoved Fred in the trunk (don't worry it's a wagon!). Fred was not excited about another transport, but both were awesome in the car. 

It was a short ride to Gisele's and she was excited to see them both. This was my last transport while in Florida: I was sunburned from standing on the tarmac, dehydrated, and exhausted, but we were part of a massive transport and all of our pups got home safe a healthy.

Mission Accomplished!

All Posts on Fred


→ And then... There were too many dogs to count! (Pharrell & Fred) 


→ Fred's TDL Page


→ Went Home: 3/16/14!

All Posts on Pharrell


→ And then... There were too many dogs to count! (Pharrell & Fred) 


→ Pharrell's TDL Page


→ Went Home: 3/8/14!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

And little Lamb Chop Arrived.

Well, It was Friday night, Valentines, and I got a message: "Transport Tomorrow, Can you do it? They changed it from March to tomorrow!" (This is what I am talking about when I say transporters need to be ready to be flexible). After double checking a few things i confirmed that I could, and we then thought this would be a great opportunity to provide some "replacement training" to a prospective transporter who had volunteered to help out. I contacted him and after a few emails we agreed to meet at the airport around 1 in the afternoon.

The next morning I woke up, finished prepping for the transport: Jug of water, dish, blankets, leashes, crate (freshly Cloroxed), gloves (just in case) etc etc... Good to go!  And then around 11 I got a text: Flight delayed, possibly canceled. Crud! I notified Jarret, (the new transporter) and let him know we were now on "wobble time" which meant we had no clue what was going on.

Waiting and waiting... and checking and soon news came down that the flight would be there at 4. At 2:30 Jarret checked to make sure we were still on for the same time and I double checked. NOPE! Flight might be early. I replied that he needed to roll, now. Especially since it would take him an hour to get here, and we had less than an hour. Oops!

 I made it to the airport just in time. The plane landed and we were called to the tarmac. I called Jarret and told him to come straight to the tarmac and we'd be unloading. Jarret arrived just as I was handed the tiny crate. Inside lay a tiny white ball, Lamb Chop.

She was tiny, and yet absolutely squished in the little crate. I opened the lid and lifted her from the crate. she let out a tired little puppy lawn. Jarret came across the tarmac and I introduced him to our new youngest member of TDL.

I quickly gave him the most basic version of transport. Holding up Lamb Chop I stated "This is the most important thing you pick up on transport, make sure you get the right one."  I then held up her papers, "This is the second most important thing to get on transport. Don't forget their papers." He smiled and We quickly snapped some pictures.

We then collected ourselves and rolled off the Tarmac. We had paused out front to set the game plan for getting to G's and suddenly a man who worked for the airport came sprinting out. He stated "you forgot a dog!" Jarret looked at me and I shook my head "no, we only have the one puppy." He stated there was a dog and asked me to come back out, so I left Jarret with Lamb Chop and walked back out to the tarmac. They showed me to a little old mixed breed girl who was in a crate, clinging to the ground. I confirmed she wasn't ours and we crossed our fingers that her rescue or adopter would be there soon.... I still don't know what her outcome was but I hope she is now in her forever home.

We got on the road and little Lamb Chop got vocal about her feelings about traveling again and then in true puppy style, quickly passed out and quietly snored. When we got to G's everyone had to love on the puppy. We sat on the couch with her, cuddled Lamb Chop, and talked about what it takes to transport. Knowing what sicknesses like Parvo look like. Being prepared for anything like having gloves in the car, ready if a pup has mange. How to deal with flight risks etc etc... It was a great time, awesome to meet a new transporter, and a pleasure to get to love on little Lamb Chop and deliver her to her future.

All Posts on Lamb Chop

→ And little Lamb Chop Arrived.

→ Lamb Chop (TDL Page)


→ Went Home: 2/20/14!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Transport That Became Two - Pepito, Perry Como, and ... Where's Heidi!?

Today I knew I was meeting a transport, I knew where, but I didn't know when. As the day went on I knew I'd hear when they were in route to the meeting location, what I didn't know was that I would find this out 20 minutes before they got there. After 3 I got a text letting me know they'd be there in 20 minutes, at which time I jumped up and ran like a made woman, because I was over 20 minutes away from the location... oops!

So I hopped in the car and floored it. I am pretty sure I made record time. First I was passed  this adorable little fellow, Pepito, and promptly fell in love. He is soft as silk, loving and did pretty well on a leash. He also makes the most adorable puppy sounds when you pick him up! I loaded him in the car after a minor wrestling match to get him in the crate. He was NOT a fan of getting off a multi-hour transport only to be put right back in a crate. Sorry little guy!

Perry Como
Next I met Perry Como. As they lifted him out of the van it hit me in the chest... I'd seen his shelter photo, I knew it would be bad, but nothing is quite as real as when you pet a dog and can feel the bones, including the rare one which connects to his skull... They set him on the ground and immediately he looked at me and wagged his tail.

From what we know of his past, his family moved, and left him chained with no food... he starved until he was picked up. How a dog who had been so betrayed by people could meet me, a stranger, and wag his tail is still beyond me. What love. He is a total love and happily walked around in the grass. Every interaction, whether talking to him or petting him, seemed to make him happy. As his transporter so perfectly said, "he is a great boy, just needs groceries."  I loaded him up in the car, which was far to easy for how big he is, and he quietly settled down into the comfy blanket.

Then "our third dog" was brought out... I looked at the dog before me, and suddenly i knew there was a problem... I'd never seen this dog before in my life... but I had seen the dogs who were supposed to be on transport to us... First two matched up, but the sweet hound-like dog in front of me was not the dog I was supposed to be getting. I called Gisele and told her that I only had 2 out of 3. She stated that I should have a 3rd dog, a German shepherd pup named Heidi. I told her that Heidi was not here, which meant... uh oh- she was going to tampa! CRUD!

Both Gisele and I began dialing trying to find Heidi. We discovered that she and one other pup were both in Tampa and would need to come back up in the morning, but she was safe and had a temp foster for the night so we relaxed a little. We'd have to figure this out, but right now it was okay for the transport to roll out.

When the car got moving the pup stopped screaming and promptly fell asleep, demonstrating a wide variety of what I think must be the most uncomfortable sleeping positions for a puppy.  Paws spread, one paw on the cage door and one on the roof of the cage, head twisted upside down and backwards, and he chose  to sleep this way.

Meanwhile just behind me Perry Como peaked out of the crate. Occasionally he would stand to see out the window. He is the only dog I have ever had in the car who clunked when he lay down, even with the fluffy blankie. I begged him to just lay down and promised we wouldn't be on the road long.

We got to Gisele's without a hitch and passed Pepito to his awesome foster mama who fell in love with him in an instant (who wouldn't?) and put Perry in his crate with a nice big bowl of food after a brief photoshoot.

We then discussed Heidi and with the help of some texts, phone calls, and emails it was decided that in the morning I'd be getting up (very early) to meet the transporter in Wildwood. The Transporter, who I discovered was also named Sara, volunteered to drive the two dogs who had been lost on transport back up to meet me. I mean she had already driven from Alabama in a day, and was driving back the next morning, (what a superhero!) so she figured what was one more stop?

Now, notice I said 2 dogs. Another rescue was in the same position we were and they needed a way to get their dog back to the vet we originally met the transport at. SO the plan was that I would get them both (my first dog from another rescue) take Heidi to Gisele, and drop of this golden dog at the vet on the way home.

I woke up at 5 in the morning and was shortly on the road. I brought some Banana bread to Sara as a thank you for going out of her way (i later heard she loved it) and she brought the pups. Heidi came out of the van and immediately aimed to please. She ran up, and sat at my feet, wagging. Hard not to love that enthusiasm.  Then I met the golden dog. She was uncertain and was not a big fan of the slip leash. We gave them both a chance to do their business and then we loaded up, hugged and parted ways.

Both dogs were quiet in the car but we did have just one more stop before Gisele's. We dropped off a crate and some medication to one of our fosters. She loved getting to see the pups on transport and admired how stunning Heidi was.  After brief hellos and goodbyes we were back on the road.

At Gisele's all the pups were given a chance to stretch their legs, G and I had a brief bite, and we got some pictures of Heidi, who puts on quite a show for the camera. We looked her over and determined that she was a little skinny but nothing  few bowls of puppy food wouldn't fix.

Golden dog
A short while later I was back on the road with the golden dog, who was less than thrilled to be getting back in the car again. We arrived at the vet and I warned them that she could be a flight risk at time, spinning on the leash. The dog, of course, promptly proved me completely wrong and walked in like a champ after 3 separate spinning episodes prior on transport. Apparently she likes going to the vet. Ok then! We snapped a picture for her rescue and then I was off duty.

Two long days, 4 lives starting over. Sounds fair to me.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

This is not just a Transport Tale: Yogi Bear

There is a first time for everything, and this was my first time assessing a dog for TDL.

I had been in contact with a shelter which we were looking into pulling from, and then my contact let me know there was a second dog which might be a good fit for the rescue. The original plan was that I would go to the shelter and meet up with another TDL member and foster, look at a few dogs (one in particular), assess the dogs and decide who would become a TDL dog (if any). The plan changed the morning of the visit when the member has an emergency come up, and suddenly, I was driving to Daytona and doing this alone. I called Gisele and we decided I'd still go, and just see what happened, and if a dog was a good fit for TDL we'd go straight to our vet instead of to foster.

So I steeled myself that I was NOT going to get a dog, I was going to look at 2 dogs, none of whom were promised anything (at least, that is what I tried to tell myself). I arrived and enjoyed meeting the coordinator and learning about his work in the shelter. It was amazing what he had already done in his short time in the position and what he plans on doing in order to save lives.

I met the second dog first, who had been brought in by a homeless man. She was about 13, and stood, shaking in her cell. My heart broke as she walked out into her run, afraid to be near me despite the sweet baby talk. She had a bad skin condition and wore a little pink coat to keep her warm.

She was lovely and terrified all at once, clearly shutting down after only one night in the shelter. We called her 13, for her age. Moments like this you wish you could just take all the dogs just like her into your home and love them til their last breath.

But I wasn't here to adopt, I was here to rescue, and after a few picture I went to see the dog we'd come for. The shelter called him Dylan, and as the director walked me up to his run, he gave one bark and just stood there, looking at me.

He had been adopted earlier in the week, but after showing how he interacted with cats (which was a bit too rough) he had been returned (his adopter felt horrible about this, but due to a clause in his adoption contract he was required to be returned to the shelter, not rehomed or rescued). He too had a bad skin condition, oily thinning fur, and given the blank stare I received from him, he too was shutting down. I admit, I was not impressed with him.

He was definitely the right breed (collie/border collie mix) but was he the right dog? My first instinct was no, that little spark, that "je ne se qua" that TDL dogs just have, wasn't there. But we took him outside anyhow.

He walked well on the leash and seemed to know the way to the play pen outside (which was very nice and had agility equipment!).  The first 5 minutes in the pen he walked around, sniffed, peed, and came when called, but he was still muted and generally unremarkable (except that he came when called).

  It was defeating; right body, wrong heart. I'd traveled over an hour just to come home empty handed? A part of me silently begged him, "Come on boy, show me something!"

The director gave me some time alone with him and we stood, in a silent standoff. I knew I couldn't bring a dog into our rescue that didn't have that spark, I couldn't give up the open spot to one dog who might not be a good fit while another dog waited in a run somewhere, about to die without help... And then he showed me something....

As if solar powered he looked into the sun, and came back with a goofy grin. It was like some gentle spirit on the wind whispered in his ear, "Ok, time to show her." And he did.

He circled and walked me to the fence, looked out, whimpered, put his nose through the gate, pawed it, and then looked at me and howled. "I am ready to go! I am a good boy! Take me!"

 I tested him, touching the paws I had been warned he was nervous about. He pulled away but didn't run. I touched again and he let me. I ran my fingers through his fur, around his ears, under his gums, and gave him a scratch. He smiled and then got up and danced before the gate, "See I am good, take me!"

The director brought out two dogs to test him with, to allow him to prove he could make it in a foster home with dogs. The first was a dominate and rowdy male who promptly tried to dominate him but jumping on his back. He stood and then walked away, no aggression. The director brought a sweet loving girl out. They sniffed and wagged. He passed the test. And with each test I saw more of him, more of his spirit coming out. He was quite the talker and was goofy. A lover. He reminded me a little of Bobo, Jake and Ozzie all at the same time.

I called Gisele and shared what I had learned, and we agreed, He was going to be a TDL dog. I told the director and we took him back inside. We put him in his run for just a bit longer while we did paperwork and he hesitated as I asked him to get in the kennel. His eyes questioned me, "...will you be back?" I promised it was only for a moment, and he slowly got in.

As the paperwork was prepared the director had me look at one dog who had just come in, an Anatolian pup (pure) who was for rescue only due to taking out 4 sheep... 11 months old, still a puppy despite breaking the scales at close to 80+ lbs. He was huge, and as I walked up to his pen, I could see it in his eyes... a sweet boy, apt to pass all his temperament tests, a love muffin, but scared to pieces.

He looked at me and I could hear him, "I just want to go home..."

 I took many pictures which I later sent out to a few rescues who might be able to help him, but as good of a dog as he is, I couldn't take him... We have room for 1, and I made a promise.

I visited 13 again, and she looked at me, looking right through me. There is nothing more humbling than having a dog judge the content of your character.  She returned to her bed, which was right beside me, and rested. It was like she knew I wasn't the one for her.

The brown dog in the kennel beside her begged me to be the one for him. A loving baby whose story I don't know: owner surrender? Stray? I still don't know... but I can tell you this, that dog had one hope in life, one desire, to love someone until his dying day... I pray he gets that chance...

But today was someone else's second chance. I finished filling out the paperwork and the shelter staff brought him back out. When he saw me through the doors he pranced and wiggled. He knew his time had come. We finished the final papers and he sat, patiently waiting. When I asked him if he would like to go with me, he reared up, like a little bear cub, and that was how he got his new name, Yogi Bear.

The staff were happy to see him get rescued, knowing the loss of fur would hurt his chances of adoption in the shelter, and knowing how sweet he could be. When I walked him out the door he first walked, then ran to the car. One of the staff who hadn't heard he was leaving saw us and said "I know that dog!" I shared that he knew him as Dylan. The staff asked if I was taking him and I stated I was. He hooted a joyous (and loud) "yeah!"

 Yogi loaded up in the car like a champ and curled up into the warm red blanket I brought. He lay there, silent, the entire trip, happy to be chosen and safe. We arrived at the vet shortly and he showed Gisele how adorable he was, despite the bald butt. He looked out the office window, talked, and showed how well he could sit. He was attentive and ready, and just needed a little help to get home. I can't wait to find out where home will be for him.

But what about the others? Those left behind? 13 was rescued later that night. Sweet Brown is up for adoption under the name of Scrappy and is waiting for his new family to come get him. The Anatolian? No word... I can only pray that the rescues I contacted were able to help...