Rescue is far more complicated than simply picking up dogs and finding them homes. Rescuing
an animal, for any reason, requires help. Help from friends and supporters of the rescue to fundraise for medical care, help from foster families to provide a safe and loving home environment for the animal as they heal or wait to be adopted, help in networking the animals to find them their forever home and help in getting the pets from point A to point B, which may not always be as simple as a drive across the city.
Last week, my husband and I offered to foster a new little rescue pup, Sophie, after seeing her photo pop up on a friend's facebook page. Fostering isn't new to us and generally, we work with our usual rescue groups, but something about her sweet face really stole my heart.
I met Tena with Dalmatian Rescue of Colorado last year when another Dalmatian got loose on a transport in the Austin area. Together, Tena, a few other volunteers, myself and my pup, Panda spent several days close on the tail of Kisses, the escapee. When she was finally caught and put back on the road to rescue, we all celebrated together and I think that mission really left a lasting impression on everyone involved. The passion that goes into rescue will keep you out in the Central Texas heat working to ensure the safety of a pup.
Volunteering is a special kind of love and those that give their time in any way deserve to be celebrated. On Saturday morning, with a plan in place, Sophie was picked up by Carol, a long time rescue transporter who lives in Corpus Christi, not too far from Sophie's original location. Carol then drove Sophie to San Antonio, a 2 hour each way trip to her second ride. As Sophie arrived to each new transport volunteer, as a group, we collectively sent text messages with photos and updates on how she was doing. At 12pm, I picked up Sophie from Jim and Maggie H, who volunteered to take on the second phase of sweet Sophie's long ride to Austin. Of course, when I met this sweet pup, I was instantly in love, how could anyone resist that sweet face? After chatting with Jim, I learned that was his 100th transport for rescue pups!
In case that didn't register, that is 100 trips of 2+ hours of driving a pet that he had never met, didn't know personally but gave his heart and his time to so that they could live the life that every dog deserves. I asked Jim about his own experiences and thoughts on rescue transporters and he shared:
"Transporting is the easiest part of rescue...it doesn't come with the emotional baggage of pulling dogs from death row, it avoids the heartbreak of giving a foster dog to their new home, and it requires the least amount of commitment that the rescue coordinators, fosters and adopters have to provide. But, while it's the easiest emotionally, it's the most important in the rescue process. Without transporters, those dogs would linger in cold crates, confined to noisy, scary kennels, or worse, face euthanasia due to the commonplace excuse, "we have no room". Transporters provide a few moments of fun, adventure and joy for those rescued dogs. They know when they are being rescued and usually bond instantly with an experienced transporter. They can't say "thank you" but you see it in their eyes and know it when they finally go to sleep in the back of the SUV while you take them across town, across the state and across the nation. Our traditional stop at Sonic for tater-tots is always the highlight of the rescue. Some dogs have never had a doggie treat, or played with a chew toy. Once you show them that pleasure, they open up and realize that they are finally in a safe place. And they trust us to take them to the next transporter who will give them their own few hours of fun and adventure."
As I read the quote, I smiled to myself because of course, a rescue person could never put all of those feelings into a sentence or two as I originally requested for this blog post, but I also had to hold back a few tears because he is so right. Seeing those moments of joy, showing these dogs who are scared and confused that everything is going to be okay and finally seeing them relax, possibly for the first time in their lives is something incredible and gives us, as rescuers, a sense of peace in the world.
Tena Price, the Texas coordinator for Dalmatian Rescue of Colorado, can personally attest to the importance of transporters like Carol, Jim and Maggie. "Transporters are the link between shelters and fosters, and often the link between life and death. Many dogs are in rural shelters, long distances from a rescue or foster home. Without our team of volunteer drivers, we could not save most of the dogs that come into our rescue. Transporters are an integral part of rescue, whether the trip is a short drive across town or a longer drive like the one we coordinated for Sophie."
Volunteering doesn't have to be a dedicated number of hours, it can be on your own schedule, with whatever time you do have to give. It can be 2 hours a week to help get a dog to their new foster home, it can be an hour a week walking dogs at your local shelter. You can volunteer in an entirely different way at a local museum, or volunteer at a senior center preparing meals or playing chess. I personally dedicate the majority of my volunteer efforts to animals and I can tell you firsthand how rewarding it feels to give back. Do something! You have the ability and more than likely you have an hour to spare here or there. Let's make the world a little brighter and offer a little more kindness every day.
Dogs of ATX
To make a donation to Sophie's care, please click here: Dalmatian Rescue of Colorado
Sophie is settling in well and loving her time playing with our Panda Bear. Sophie will be having surgery to repair an umbilical hernia in the coming weeks. As she recovers, we will begin the search for her forever home. If you would like to be pre-approved as an adopter, click here and put your application in soon. Sophie is a precious little soul and sure to have a waiting list of amazing families looking to adopt her!