I love dogs (OK and cats too). Always have. Ever since I was a kid I had this kinship. Even through three dog bites, the romance continued. I’m not sure if that says something about them or about me. Today, we have two dogs, who are just the latest in a long list of canine friends that have owned us over the years. Although one of our current residents is a full blooded Cocker Spaniel he, like most of the rest, is a rescue dog.
Back before the advent of abundant computer websites, my wife and I would go down to the local kennel and wait until one of the strays picked us out. I remember one such trip when I had kind of decided on a spunky pup, only to find that another, less active one had curled up and gone to sleep on my wife’s foot. Game, set, match.
Today it’s a little different. I have spent a lot of time on search sites like Petfinder, staring into the often sad and longing eyes of survivors that tend to wrap themselves around my heart. As such, I have become much more familiar with what we refer to today as rescue dogs and cats.
Our two dogs came from different kennels, but both were in Arkansas. So how did they get here? With a lot of help from their friends it turns out. I call them Canine Caravans. Groups of volunteers that run an underground railroad of sorts, moving their charges from one town or state to another until they reach their adoption destination.
Who are these people, who care enough to spend their time, money, and love on these homeless dogs and cats. It turns out that I know one. Craig lives in Louisville Ky. He and I worked together, in another life, before retiring. Today, he spends much of his time as a Zone Manager, coordinating and maintaining volunteer lists for ten states and Canada, and as a driver for the Kindred Hearts Transport Connection. It is one of the larger transport organizations, encompassing about 6000 volunteers and staff. And, there are also a lot of grass root volunteer transport operations throughout the states that he sometimes also gets calls from to assist if they have a rider coming through his area.
Craig told me about the complexities of such an effort. There is so much more to the operation then sticking a dog in the back seat and driving off. Volunteers must first be qualified by determining their interests, i.e. driving, mapping, home visitations, coordinating, etc. after which they are expected to meet strict requirements to assure the well being of every animal being transported. Everything is done with the animals welfare and comfort being foremost, down to confirming the condition of the rider at each transfer point, i.e. a barker, or rides well, or wants to jump out of vehicle, etc. which is then relayed to the remaining drivers on the trip.
Not so long ago, when major storms racked Puerto Rico and Houston, I saw much in the news about the efforts of rescue groups to shelter strays and pets separated from their families, moving them to the safety of kennels and foster homes further north. I have always had admiration for those that actually staff the kennels and assure the health and hope of the strays that are between homes, assisting in their adoption. But now, I must add some new heroes. Those that make the transportation actually happen. The thousands of people like Craig that spend many hours per year at their own expense, assuring that every stray in their care is treated with compassion as they travel to their new forever homes, their only reward being the knowledge that a homeless dog or cat has been given another chance at life. To them, it doesn’t get much better then that.
P.S. I have attached the following link with pictures of success stories posted by some of those drivers. https://www.facebook.com/groups/KHTCsuccessstories/