Dog's Life: Humane
Transporting shelter animals to northern California, Oregon and Washington
Since its inaugural journey on Valentine’s Day of 2015, Rescue Express has been the ticket to a guaranteed future for more than 5500 animals who were once at risk of euthanasia. Headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, Rescue Express picks up dogs and cats from shelters located mostly in high-volume shelters in Southern and Central California and delivers them to underpopulated shelters in the Pacific Northwest. Twice monthly, the former school busses — now outfitted to provide and comfortable animal transport — have been traveling a well-worn route along Interstate 5.
Then, tragedy struck the Gulf Coast. So in early September, the organization expanded its outreach to include animal victims of the recent flooding in Louisiana. With local shelters unable to accommodate the influx of displaced pets, several national and local organizations worked in concert to help bring dogs and cats — those for whom owners could not be located — to safety around the U.S. The Rescue Express bus picked up 55 of those pups who had been transported to Salt Lake City. From there, they headed farther west to “receiver shelters” in Oregon and Washington where they can be adopted into loving homes.
For now, transport needs are still great along the I-5 corridor. But plans for the group’s future include initiatives like providing low-cost spay/neuter services and working with local lawmakers to improve animal welfare regulations. Want to help? Get on board and make a donation to — or read more about — Rescue Express.
Dog's Life: Humane
Little Allie has a true Cinderella tale. I first encountered her at a former landfill-turnedpark along San Francisco Bay’s eastern shoreline. Lola, our Pointer spotted her; I just heard warning barks, then saw a flash of white fur. The next two mornings, same thing. Curious, I contacted Mary Barnsdale, a friend who heads that park’s dog user group, and learned that they had been hearing stories about this elusive stray going back almost six months, but no one had been able to pinpoint a location. Now we knew where to find her!
Animal Control, stretched thin, didn’t have the personnel to corral her, so Mary turned to Jill Posener of Paw Fund to see if she could humanely trap the little dog, and I gladly volunteered to help. The first two tries came up short, but on the third day, we went out at the crack of dawn, set the traps with hot fried chicken—Jill’s go-to lure for hungry dogs—and bingo, we got her!
Albany PD officer Justin Kurland helped us ferry Allie in the capture crate to the parking lot. He, too, was thrilled; he had often seen her when out on park patrol, but she always eluded him. (For more about Allie’s rescue, see thebark.com/allie.) It’s amazing to consider how much intelligence and resourcefulness it took for such a young, small dog to survive on her own. Since there’s nothing in the way of food or fresh water at this park, her feat is even more impressive.
After a brief stint at the Berkeley shelter, Jill fostered Allie, got her ready for an adoption event and, in short order, found her the perfect match: Mary Lou Salcedo, a retired senior. As Mary Lou told us, “Allie gives me so much happiness after I lost my Bichon at the age of 16. Now I found my new companion.” Mary Lou has the time, patience and tender love that Allie deserves.
We are overjoyed to show her off on the cover in a photo taken a scant three weeks after her capture. The photo was taken by Mo Saito, who recently set up his Doghouse Photos studio near our office. A former London fashion photographer, Mo made a turn dogward in this country. He has a masterful skill, which he put to good use in getting this shot —while Allie wasn’t fearful, she was rather busy exploring the studio. Thankfully, Mary Lou’s friend, Chase Wilson, a San Francisco firefighter and ardent dog lover who’s been invaluable with Allie’s training, came along to help wrangle her. We think you’ll agree that she, Mo and Mary Lou did the trick.
One doesn’t often get the chance to have a hand in saving the life of another individual but early yesterday morning I had the rare opportunity to experience exactly that. A few days before, I and my pal, Naomi, were out walking our dogs at the Albany Bulb when we spotted a stray dog. The Bulb is a very unusual park constructed as landfill in the bay with debris from a previous highway. For years it was regarded as semi-marginal land full of mammoth chunks of concrete spiked with rebar tentacles but it became the favorite haunt for homeless encampments and outsider artworks, and, oh yes, for dog people too.
Recently the Bulb has received more attention from park planners, and is in the process of an intense clean-up and gentrification effort, some of it good, some of it threatening to become restrictive to our dogs. But it is still a wild and wonderful urban park with stunning views of the Golden Gate bridge. This past Saturday morning that is where my dog Lola found the dog at the end of what is referred to as the Bulb’s neck. It was only a fleeting image, of a white/brown fluff who yapped at Lola but as soon as we humans came on the scene, ran away. The next day we saw the dog at the same time and place but after a few barks, she sped off. We asked other park goers if they had seen such a dog and yes many had seen this dog for a very long time but didn’t know much more nor do much about it.
Obviously this was a dog who needed help, one can’t imagine where a dog could find any food and with no fresh water anywhere nearby, it seemed that she was in an extremely perilous situation calling for immediate intervention. So I contacted another friend, dog park advocate, Mary Barnsdale who, among many other dog-related interests, chairs an organization called Aldog, and maintains its Facebook page. I also asked her to also contact Jill Posener, another dog advocate and rescue person who runs a spay/neuter initiative called Paw Fund, who I knew has orchestrated successful stray rescues. They both had heard about this dog for at least four months, but the sightings were in many different areas that this was the first time they heard of sightings that were more precise and detailed. After our weekend initial sightings, my partner, Cameron, went out on day three, and he too found the dog in the same area. So now we now had a trifecta that could launch a rescue plan.
To further help the effort, Cameron put bowls of water, and tiny feeding stations throughout that area, and placed small irrigation flags to highlight the area. So on Tuesday evening Mary and Jill brought out the two traps, baited them and waited for a few hours. Nothing happened that night or the next, so it was decided that since we had seen the dog early in the morning, that the vigil on Thursday would be moved up to the crack of dawn.
Jill arrived first and had already baited the traps when I showed up at 5:30 a.m. She was standing off to the side of a pathway far from the traps to not be seen by the dog. She and I stood there whispering about the strategy, and at around 6:00 I saw a white flash go to the copse of trees where one of the traps was located. So we had our sighting. Jill told me that we might hear the trap door close but also cautioned that if the dog didn’t enter the trap within a few minutes that it would be it for that day. If that didn’t work then, we would have to remove the bait and plan to return the next morning and then scatter food around (and in) the trap to get the dog used to finding the food nearby. We waited with bated breath but did not hear anything, no barking, no cage door closing. But at 6:15 we quietly went out, not expecting to see anything but empty crates, but lo and behold, Jill quickly exclaimed, “bingo, we got a dog!” And there was the little wild one inside the trap, all the food had been eaten and when as we approached she barked up a storm and tried to dig her way out. It is really hard to express what a joyous moment this was but we took it very cautiously not coming too close, but close enough to see that she was safe and secure.
Jill then phoned Officer Justin Kurland of the Albany police department, who the day before had sent her this photo of the dog that he had taken at the exact spot where we were standing. He had seen the traps with a notice with Jill’s contact info. He had told her that if the trapping worked to call him and he would open the gate to the trail so she could drive up to the area instead of carrying the heavy crate down to the parking lot. So I was left alone to watch over the pup who I tried my best to reassure and cheer up, as Jill went to wait for him and to get her van. Even though the pup continued to bark, her body language seemed to calm down and she wasn’t frantic, there was even a slight tail wag. A few minutes later I was happy to see Officer Justin on a motorcycle escorting Jill’s van up to the rescue site. It was great getting his help, and he told us that he had two small dogs and might even adopt this one! We all were cooing and marveling at her. She sure is a cutie. He helped carry the traps to the van. He also added that he was so excited to get Jill’s call, that he left his cellphone at the station!
Once in the van, the dog totally calmed down, the barking stopped and she eagerly gobbled up the greasy chicken given to her between the bars, and even licked our fingers. It was like she was seemed relieved to get the wild life behind her. She didn’t appear too frightened, perhaps a little bewildered, but who wouldn’t be? We all fell under her spell.
Jill then drove her to the Berkeley animal shelter to see if she was chipped (negative) and check up on her health etc. She seemed fine considering her long ordeal, a few fur mats, but so far so good. They thought that with her nice white teeth that she was perhaps two years old (almost a quarter of her life spent as a stray). A vet will be checking her out thoroughly on Friday. So look like a Lhasa mix, with short legs and a lovely fluffy tail indicating a breed like that. Cameron and I paid a couple of visits to her today and we got to see a totally different dog as she greeted us at her kennel’s glass door. We weren’t permitted yet to go into her kennel, but Jill has the authority to do that, and it was so heartwarming to see how she was greeted by little Allie (with her new name) playing and nuzzling her. Jill will act as the adoption agent, finding her a foster home first and then picking the perfect forever guardian for her. Officer Justin might be just the candidate, and I heard that he has planned to bring his wife to meet with her. I am confident that all will work out for Allie, and I will be posting future news about her. But if anyone in the SF Bay area might be interested, you can contact me directly.
I can’t say enough about the great work that Jill and Mary do by picking up the slack from local shelters that are too strapped for staffing and funding—they simply do not have the resources to mount trapping efforts. This one was resolved quickly but normally it can take many days or even weeks and someone must be on site to check the traps so that other animals or dogs aren’t being caught. But individuals, like Jill and Mary, who freely donate their time and expertise, can also enlist others, such as eager ride-along novices like myself, to pitch in too. So this one worked out almost effortlessly, a full community effort, even involving a police officer!
I would love to hear your stray rescue stories. How were they resolved? Any tips to offer to others? Jill did teach me, that calmness and patience are key, but the payoff when a dog is safely rescued pays dividends that are definitely worth it all.
News: Guest Posts
As embers fell and flames grew, the question of “what to take” often came down to a four-legged bundle. But the Valley Fire in California’s rural Lake County left many with just minutes to escape as it sped through parched brush in record time.
“The community had to leave so fast that hundreds of animals were left behind,” says Bill Davidson, director of Lake County Animal Care and Control.
Countless dogs that managed to stay with their people soon joined cats, goats, horses and more in evacuation centers crammed with cots and crates. One local shelter had to face its own tough choices; whether to euthanize existing animals to make way for the incoming. (Luckily, these two groups stepped in).
In South Lake County, where the 73,700-acre blaze began, among the worst in California’s history, the roads out are windy and narrow, through rock-strewn mountains and forests, with yawning drops at every bend. In 2011, a group of horse owners along with Davidson formed the Lake Evacuation and Animal Protection team (LEAP) to help prepare for the inevitable, catastrophic fire.
The volunteer group has trained to enter the fire area and either impound or shelter in place. The vast majority of city and county animal control agencies lack the training, equipment, or support from local fire agencies to do the work, Davidson says.
In recent days, some people ventured back into smoldering fire zones, escorted by sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers for a 15-minute check on the animals they’d left behind. Some would find their homes; others would not.
“Everyone is calling to have us check on their animals,” says Davidson. “The list is endless.” With the enormity of the crisis, he called in the ASPCA. Everyone wants to help, he says, but LEAP only uses those with fire training and personal protection equipment. The fire zone, where animals still wander, is filled with dangers. “Many things are actively burning, trees are falling, power lines are down, and fire crews are running around to trouble spots.” On Sunday, the ASPCA arrived with a 30-foot trailer. The four field rescuers and three shelter helpers are expected to stay through Sunday.
“We brief each morning and then they are gone for most of the day, not returning to well after midnight so far,” Davidson says.
The field rescue is uplifting at times, heartbreaking at others.
“As long as the property was spared, most dogs have done well,” he says. “Our goal has been to shelter in place as many as possible, providing food and water for the absent owner, then moving on to the next address.” If they survived the initial blast, most are far more comfortable and easily managed staying at home.
But over 1,000 structures were likely destroyed, “pretty much a total loss, including anything left inside,” he says. “The injured animals have been trickling in, all being sent for medical attention.”
How many dogs are missing? Davidson is sure there are hundreds that escaped yards or were set loose by their owners. “Social media has been full of pictures of animals set free by their owners before leaving. We have impounded about a dozen dogs just wandering around as we check on addresses.”
Lake County’s animal shelter now brims with almost 200 animals whose lives were upturned by fire…again.
In August, the county was struck by another roaring inferno; the Rocky fire, nearly as large but in a less populated area. Less than two weeks later the Jerusalem fire ignited. Help arrived from Chico-based North Valley Animal Disaster Group, but the run of disasters has left shelters reeling. And with some 600 homes lost, many people and pets are homeless.
“We survived the Rocky and Jerusalem fires, but it pretty much depleted our resources, both physically and mentally,” Davidson says.
“Then this came.”
Drones are coming to the rescue for stray dog operations in Houston. This innovative program is spearheaded by Tom McPhee, executive director of World Animal Awareness Society (WA2S), he’s the pilot behind the drone controls too. WA2S is filming a new television show called “Operation Houston: Stray Dog City,” to examine the stray dog problem in that city and profile the community people trying to save the animals. What better way to get a true count of the scope of the problem by marrying technology, i.e. drones and GPS, with on-the-ground volunteers who provide invaluable help to the dogs? Drones, to many, are annoying, invasive buzzing “toys,” but in the able hands of McPhee and other animal lovers, they can be the perfect “search and rescue” tool giving a synoptic, eye-in-the-sky view of stray dogs. See this story of how Bobby, a stray who hangs around a local park, is helped by Martha Vasquez and her Clark Park Forgotten Barks and Friends. Many of the dogs they care for are victims of dog fighting. But the stray dog problem in Houston is so enormous that is has earned the reputation as being, “Stray Dog City 2015,” maybe even outpacing Detroit for that infamous “honor.”
Drone might turn out to be good tool for local shelter or rescue groups. Have you heard of similar operations using drones to maybe locate lost dogs, or to track strays?
Culture: Readers Write
Unexpected death brings new beginnings for one family.
She was a long hair mini dachshund and we did not know exactly how old she was. I do know that when I first rescued Tessie eight years ago, she could not see or hear well, but she sure could smell another dog a mile away. She was so energetic, happy, loved her walks, food and lots of people attention. I thought she was quite young.
On December 22 while I was getting ready for work, Tessie and I did our usual routine of breakfast and outside for her. After she ate her breakfast and jumped around a bit, she just lied down on the floor and could not get up. I could see something was very wrong and rushed her to the emergency pet hospital at 6:30am but she died in my lap on the way.
I was devastated and in absolute shock. It was a good thing I was on vacation for two weeks because I did not stop crying for four straight days. I was obligated to cook dinner for my children and their friends and in looking back it was good short term distraction. While I shopped for dinner, I cried all through the store. I would run across people that cried with me as they remembered their lost pets.
I guess perception is everything; I thought I had about 10 more years with Tessie. We now realize that she was most likely 6 or 7 years older than we thought. That would have made her 13 or 14 years old.
As I was lying in bed grieving, I started looking on PetFinder.com for dachshund rescues. I decided to rescue another dachshund because I understand their quirky and stubborn personalities. In honor of Tessie, I decided to rescue a senior dog.
Even though my friends and family kept telling me to wait, I just could not. It was just too painful and I knew that I wanted to have a dog in my life at all times. I was still able to go through the grieving process even though I was looking for another rescue. I did everything to get out of my heart, went to the animal shelter and dropped off items they needed for the shelter dogs, and took long walks.
I contacted Phyllis Van Boxtel, rescue director, of Recycle Love Dog Rescue to enquire about a little red dachshund mix that was apparently dropped off at a shelter by someone who could no longer take care of her. I was not sure about it, but it made me feel better just to find out more about her. Her name was Flower.
I live in Northern California and was in no shape to fly or drive to San Diego (400 miles) to pick her up. When I told this to Phyllis she said it was not a problem and they would fly her to me. I asked how much this would cost and she said it was free as she is affiliated with a company called Pilots n Paws who flies dogs for free to good homes. I could not believe it! So I just went with it, filled out the application and sent my adoption fee in. Sight-unseen I agreed to take her.
Three days later, I drove to the Palo Alto municipal airport and waited in a little building near the tarmac for the plane. Once landed, I was able to go out and greet them when they opened the airplane doors. It was amazing!
I renamed her Jolie Fleur (pretty flower in French). I’ve now had my little Jolie for 3 weeks. She is doing very well and taken me on as her person.
I believe my little Tessie led me to Jolie as I do believe she was trying to tell me something before she died. She was clingy and not her usual self for a few weeks before she died. Her signs were so subtle and I didn’t notice because she did not appear to be ill before she died.
I know that eventually I will go through a grieving period with Jolie because she is older. I don’t know how long we have together, but I am going to make it the best time I can for her.
It is worth rescuing senior dogs. They are so lovely and really know when they are safe and loved.
I would like to thank the following people for making this miracle happen: Phyllis Van Boxtel of Recycled Love Dog Rescue. Angel Pilots of Pilots n Paws. Luke Freeman for taking all the photos and being my best support of the Day! Thanks Luke, you are a trooper.
I am so happy to know that there are so many human angels still helping and loving the innocent animals that do not have a voice of their own and cannot defend themselves.
News: Guest Posts
Rescued after 5 months during snowstorm
There is a great “silver lining” story from New York today about a lost dog reunion made possible, in a way, by the giant blizzard that never was. As we all know by now, the winter storm of the decade had little effect in that region (moving further up along the coast instead), but in preparing for it, a dog loving fire department lieutenant was able to trap the lost dog, a young Whippet named Burt, who had been lost for 5 months. Lieutenant David Kelly, 50, works 24-hour shifts out at the Fire Academy on Randalls Island, and had been leaving food out for the skinny, shy dog for more than three weeks. He had also been urging other fire department workers to leave food for the lost pup. Kelly has two rescue dogs at home so he is no stranger to the power of dog love, so he had decided that what with the huge storm coming, that it was time to step up his effort to catch the dog. You just gotta love it that he also thought to check for missing dogs of Burt’s type (Whippet or Greyhound) in the NYC area and found that the owner, Lauren Piccolo, had dedicated a Facebook page to her lost pup. On Monday night Kelly brought a crate from home, baited it with dog food, attached a lanyard to it, and waited. Shortly after 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Burt approached, grabbed for the food and Kelly was able to quickly close the crate door. Burt and Piccolo were soon reunited, and their story has become an instant sensation! Hats off to Lieutenant David Kelly—the hero of the hour—and welcome home Burt.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
No need to compare it to other grief
Naturally, I don’t consider losing a dog to be LIKE losing a family member, because I know it IS losing a family member, and I’ve always shared deep sympathy with anyone who has had to say good-bye to a dog. Lately, friends mourning dogs, (including Scout, pictured here) have had a tendency to say in response to my condolences, “But I know what you’ve gone through lately,” or words to that effect.
It’s clear that since my mom died in August, some of my friends have been hesitant to express their grief about losing a dog. (Many of my friends who I know through the Mommy network have been losing dogs lately because we adopted dogs before we had kids, and now so many of those dogs are elderly.) I keep hearing them say, in different ways, “I don’t mean to say this is as bad as what you’ve faced.”
I appreciate the respectful kindness behind these statements, but I don’t think we need to compare pain. In my particular case, the death of my Mom was far worse, much more sad and hugely more horrible than the death of any dog I’ve lost, but my experience is not necessarily the same as other people’s. I imagine that in some cases for some people, the loss of a dog was worse than the loss of a parent.
And even if we could rank the pain, that doesn’t mean that lesser pain doesn’t still hurt. I don’t feel the need to apologize for experiencing less pain with the death of my mom than those people who have lost a child endure, though I’m aware that they have suffered more.
Grief is grief, and loss is loss. It’s always sad and sometimes even tragic. All loss should be acknowledged and honored without apology. I feel just as deeply as ever for those who are mourning the loss of a dog. I’m grateful that our society has come a long way from the days when the response to the death of one’s best friend was, “Well it was just a dog. You can always get another one.” I’m also grateful to have such thoughtful friends, who, even in the face of their own grief, remember that I, too, am in mourning.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Girl Scout went missing on June 14, 2014 after jumping a five foot fence at a friend’s house in another town. An athletic 30 pound mixed breed, she was on the run in an unfamiliar area many miles from home. Her frantic owners immediately began the search and plastered missing posters on every surface for miles around. I saw the fliers every day as I went about my calls and I patrolled the area repeatedly hoping I would be able to find her and give her people the happy ending they were looking for. Girl Scout was microchipped and wearing a collar and tags (an animal control officer’s favorite), and occasionally there would be sightings, but she was too frightened to go to anyone.
Weeks and then months went by and the sightings grew fewer. I wondered about her often, as I still saw the faded and tattered fliers everywhere. Sometimes new fliers would pop up as a result of another sighting but Girl Scout was no closer to being caught. Even formerly friendly, outgoing dogs sometimes get where they don’t trust anyone and they just stay alive scrounging from trash cans and outdoor pet food bowls.
Three months after Girl Scout went missing, someone who had seen the fliers recognized her with a homeless man and was able to reunite her with her ecstatic family. A vet visit showed her to be thin, covered in tick bites and having broken her leg at some point. The leg had healed slightly crooked but overall, she is doing well.
Girl Scout’s owners did a lot of things right to help her come home. They made reports to animal control, offered a reward and put up (and are taking down) more than 700 fliers, many of which were laminated, helping them last longer. They left their car, her crate, blankets etc at the areas she was seen. She had tags and a microchip, which would have helped in many situations although they weren’t the saving factor in this case. They posted on Facebook, took out ads and searched relentlessly, but most of all, they never gave up.
I would love to hear from readers who have recovered a lost a dog. Tell us what you did to find them and how you were reunited.
Culture: Readers Write
As I stood in our hotel room gazing into the large, searching eyes of my female Greyhound, Kazi, I felt numb. She lay on a dog bed that my husband and I had brought in case we were lucky. You see, we had just spent the last two days in a search for her, one that at times had seemed hopeless. To be able to be in the same room with her right now felt unreal. All the possible outcomes of the past days swirled through my mind. How this experience had ended this way was just short of a miracle. We had her back, unharmed; yet we stood in that room in a state of blissful shock.
It had been a glorious fall morning the day it began, perfect for an outing. My husband and I had been searching for the ideal dining room set for many months, and so we decided to go on a shopping trip. Our Greyhounds, although not in need of a table but loving a ride, begged to come along. Jumping into the back of our van without hesitation and curling up on their favorite travel beds, they were ready for adventure.
We headed out for our day of shopping, and traveled south on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a beautiful and unspoiled area located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. We enjoyed traveling this stretch of road where the fields of soy beans, corn and cotton were abundant in the fall, where old buildings were untouched and repurposed, and where crepe myrtles lined the rustic highway. It brought peace to our souls and was the reason we had chosen to relocate here.
Soon we came to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, an expanse of 18 miles of aquamarine water and steel blue sky. This beauty and tranquility ended abruptly as we crossed the bridge into Virginia Beach, a bustling city of wide streets filled with speeding cars—many, many cars.
We got into the rhythm of the streets with their endless traffic lights and made our way to the store. Our sweet Greyhounds slept the entire trip and only raised their heads when we stopped at a red light or made a turn. We arrived at the furniture store ready to do some heavy shopping, and this is where our story takes a horrifying turn, unexpected but ultimately uplifting.
We parked, got out of our van, and checked to see that our dogs were settled in the back. All seemed well so we moved into the store in anticipation of ferreting out something perfect for our home. After finding what we thought would work for us, and while discussing the details with the salesperson, an announcement came over the loudspeaker. It seemed that something had happened regarding our van.
When I looked out of the front window of the store, my heart sank. My husband, who had run out before me, was already speaking to a person who had witnessed the incident. There were people hovering around the car speaking in low tones as I ran to see what had happened. The back of the van was standing open, the mouth of a giant cave but with no animals inside taking shelter. Our dogs were gone. I took in the scene: my husband was talking to a bystander, and Rusty, our male Greyhound, was being held by a stranger. I approached the person restraining my dog, thanking him, and asking what had happened.
It seemed that for no apparent reason, the hatch on the back of the van had opened, its great metal jaws beckoning the outside. The dogs, confused, and seeing no one, jumped out. Rusty, thinking a treat was in the offing approached a stranger who grabbed his collar. As this person went to grab Kazi, she bolted. But where had she gone?
Greyhounds are fast and, if they are the least bit skittish like Kazi is, they are almost impossible to catch. My husband and I have had Greyhounds for almost twenty-five years, but we have never lost a dog like this. Oh sure, now and again, one had gotten out of the backyard, but was always quickly recovered. This was terrifying. Here we were on one of the busiest streets in Virginia Beach, and she had already crossed it. What to do first? Although numbed by fear, we wasted no time. My husband jumped into the car to scour the nearby streets, a stranger volunteering to go with him. I took Rusty and started out on foot, questioning people as I walked. Some people had seen her and others not, but all were sympathetic. Then a thought; we had worked with a Greyhound group from Virginia Beach for a few years, and I was sure that they would help.
I called the leader of our group. She, in turn, called others and before we knew it, we had a group of Greyhound owners and their dogs looking for our runaway. It is often said that emergencies bring out the best and worst in people. I only saw the best. Many people offered their help. What these good people didn’t know was how important their simple acts of kindness were to us. They cared enough to help us look for our lost pet. And so we looked. We searched that entire day and into the night when it was too dark to search anymore. Finally, giving up for the evening, we were forced to make the journey home. How hard it was. It had turned cold and rainy, and all I could think of was poor Kazi out in that horrible weather.
That night, we slept very little, and by early the next morning, we were back on the road heading south again across the Bay. This time, we had brought extra clothing so we could stay overnight. The weather was dreadful, still rainy and cold, the cold nothing compared to the frigid chill around our hearts at the loss of our dog.
Upon our arrival, we had flyers made and started posting them. Occasionally, we received calls from people who had heard of our plight and were willing to pass out flyers or to help in any way they could. Sometimes, it was just simple information shared that helped to shape the rest of our day.
We felt helpless as we trudged through the maze of that gloomy day. People called with sightings of what they thought could be our girl. We tried to follow up by posting flyers everywhere. The weather worsened, it poured, the sky darkened mirroring our impotence. By 4:30 p.m., we decided to stop and regroup for the next day. I looked at my husband as we sat in our car, both drenched from the rain, and for the first time said, “I don’t think we’re going to find her.” With that thought, we headed for our hotel but on the way stopped at an emergency animal hospital to post our last flyer of the day.
There are so few times that miracles happen, we tend not to believe them when they do. As we pulled into a parking space, my husband’s phone rang. He wasn’t quick enough to get it, but a message was left, and as he listened, he started motioning me with his hand. He hung up, looked at me and exploded, “They found her!”
Unbelievable. He called the number left on the phone, spoke to our savior, and receive directions. As we hurried to pick up our little fugitive, we were in shock. Our emotions had just catapulted from despair to elation.
When we reached our destination, we were amazed at the distance our dog had covered in her twenty-five hour journey. She had not only crossed one main road of nine lanes, but also another of eleven. The miracle was not only had we found her, but that she was still alive and not hurt in anyway. After wandering into an industrial park where her rescuers had been working late, she approached their door, they opened it, and she walked right in. Reading her tag collar was all that was needed to reconnect us.
You may be thinking, what a happy ending. But this could have ended very badly for us. This was written to inform and to caution. My husband and I have a Honda Odyssey van which is comfortable and useful especially carrying two large breed dogs. However, one of the special features of our car was the cause of this misadventure.
At first, the feature of an automatically opening rear hatch had appealed to us. If your arms were full, you could just press a button on the remote and the hatch would open. We, however, did not realize the distance the signal of that remote travels. When we were in the furniture store, my husband put the remote/car key into his back pocket and sat down. That simple action pressed the button for the rear hatch. Even if the doors are locked, one push of that button will open the hatch.
After this took place, we went to our car dealer and asked to have this feature disabled. Disabling it, however, would also disable other features of the vehicle that were needed. So we decided to solve our immediate problem by using the valet key that has no remote on it when the dogs are in the car with us. This is a suggestion that you might wish to follow if yourdogs travel in the back of your van. After locking the vehicle, try to open the rear hatch with the remote using only one click. If it does open, be aware and act accordingly. Checking this could save you unwanted heartache.
Car manufacturers should rethink and recall vehicles with this poorly designed feature. I hope that this is something that will be changed in the future design of minivans. We were just fortunate that our story ended happily and well and that Kazi is safe in her bed. Incidentally, she promises not to run away again when it’s raining. I’m not too sure about when the sun is shining.
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