Sunday, December 12, 2010

Going to the dogs

Yesterday I drove 285 miles for two dogs named Toby and Brittany.

You see, we got Pippi from a national breed-specific rescue agency called National Brittany Rescue and Adoption Network (NBRAN), an organization run almost entirely by volunteers, and funded by donations, the good will of the volunteers who rescue, foster, and transport the dogs, and the $350 adoption fee you pay when you adopt a dog from them (which, when you think about it, doesn't really cover the expenses of a dog who's been fostered for any length of time). Anyway, Bullock and I can't really foster a dog -- Pippi doesn't get along with all dogs, and she seems well-suited to be an only dog; plus walking one of her is challenge enough -- but I wanted to help out with more than donations. So I put my name on the list for the transport drivers.

When a dog is pulled from a shelter and transferred to a foster home, or adopted into a "forever home," the dog might need to travel some distance to that home. When we adopted Pippi, she came from a foster home in our state, so her foster mom drove her to our house herself. But sometimes a Wisconsin dog might need to go to NY or a Texas dog might need to get to Pennsylvania, and so on. NBRAN will transport dogs up to about 1300 miles, and it's done with a chain of drivers who drive legs of about 60 miles each. Yesterday, on my first ever run, I drove two of them (and of course there and back again, accounting for the almost 300 miles), picking up two dogs along the way. I left the house at 7:15 am to get to the first meeting place and got back around 1pm.

First, I picked up Toby, a very handsome, mellow, sweet 5-year-old boy eager to meet new humans and dogs, but a little untrained and, sadly, deaf. But he was going to his "forever home," so his story already has a happy ending. Anyway, he was an affectionate love bug who wagged his tail and greeted me with a kiss right away. That's kind of novelty for me, as Pippi is deciding *not* the kissing kind. And when he got into my car, he decided that my lap was a great place to sit and look out the window:

Eventually I convinced him that he couldn't stay in my lap or else I wouldn't be able to drive, and he pouted:

He hid his face from me like this every time I tried to get a picture, and I didn't figure out until I dropped him off at my last meeting point that he was terrified of the camera! Poor boy! I didn't realize I was torturing him! But who would think that a dog would be terrified of a little point-and-shoot digital camera? But maybe he didn't know what it was or would do. And since he's deaf, when his head was turned, I couldn't soothe him with calming sounds or tell him he was a good boy.

Eventually he decided to move to the back seat, and at our first stopping point, we were joined by Brittany, a 9-year-old Brittany/Beagle mix. Brittany came with a crate, and I was planning to put Toby back in the front seat and Brittany in her crate in the back to keep them apart, but they got along quite well from the start. This kind of amazed me, as Pippi is such an alpha that she would have already claimed the car as her territory by this time and not wanted to share it. But here's Brittany posing for her portrait and Toby turning away, as usual:

In hindsight, I should've noticed that Toby's tail was tucked, but sometimes it hard to see that on a Brittany with a stub tail. When he wasn't hiding his face from me, he "dug" a little "hole" for himself (he scratched back the blankets and kept scratching at the upholstery until he was satisfied) and curled up and slept until we got to the next stop, where he'd excitedly greet the new people -- and the new dog -- just like he greeted me. Brittany was equally a great little traveler, settling down right away, just as in the picture (which I snapped as soon as we got in the car). It's amazing how resilient these animals can be. Occasionally she'd whine a little, but who can blame her: she was being transferred from stranger to stranger after having spent the first 9 years of her life with her family, who had to give her up because of financial disaster. Poor thing. Poor family!

I think, by the way, that's why I spend some time and money on helping companion animals -- it's as much about the people as it is about the animals. (The fact that it's NBRAN is just because we have a personal connection to them and the Brittany breed.) Anyone who has to give up their beloved pet wants to know it will find a nice home, and someone who adopts a dog (or any animal) is obviously getting something in return: love, joy, companionship, affection, and all the other benefits of pet ownership. So I'll probably do it again and again. I just hope the next dogs are just as easy as Toby and Brittany. And maybe I'll get better pictures of them!


undine said...

I'm glad you are doing this. I didn't know that this kind of network existed.

What Now? said...

In "hindsight"? While looking at Toby's butt? har, har, har!

Seriously, it's fabulous that you're doing this -- good for you and for the poor puppies and their families.

Dr. Virago said...

Bahahaha! I wish I could say I intended that pun!