Last Sunday, Jer and I spent 24straight hours with 29 puppies and 2 mamma dogs in Cliffy (our faithful Labradors and Friends rescue truck). The adventure began with how to get all these puppies in a Ford Expedition! Well, we got yellow mama and her litter loaded, the little black lab orphan pups loaded, and our 4 active 6mo old labs loaded, along with our little puppy Peaches (who rode in Jer’s lap and on the center console), and headed off to meet transport for our last mama and litter. When we arrived at the Alamo Cafe in San Antonio, we found an adorable little mama (Thank goodness she was small! We were seriously stressing about what to do if she didn’t fit in the crate with her pups!) and her 7 chubby babies. We also found the local ABC news affiliate waiting for us to arrive to do a story on our little rescue effort. Overall, the interview went well, but I did learn that if a reporter asks you, “So do you do this because you have a big heart?” you should come up with something creative, like “everyone in rescue has a big heart” vs. “Ummm, not really…” oops!!! Luckily, they edited that part out! LOL! Finally, it was time to say goodbye to our friends at Tracy’s Dogs Tracy, Scott, and their daughters Jenna and Kassidy (who are excellent puppy washers, walkers, and feeders) and we hit the road back to San Diego.
Well, we quickly discovered that four 6mo old Labs don’t ride well together in a kennel, so we rescued little Wyatt from his sassy sisters, and put him in the front seat with Jer and Peaches. We were hardly on the road for an hour when the lovely stench of puppy poo filled the car. Being new to this, we pulled over into a gas station, opened the back of the car, and Jer nearly died. There were 8 little black labby kids covered in puppy poo. We definitely garnered a lot of attention as we sat at the pump, with all 8 puppies in a cardboard box that we borrowed from the gas station attendant, cleaning the crate and the puppies. We figured there had to be an easier way! After letting all the puppies out for a potty-break, we hit the road again. Immediately, the car began to smell, but we decided to press on as these little poop machines were going to be impossible to keep clean. We finally wised up and started pulling over at rest stops where we could set up an x-pen and transfer puppies from their messy crates to pens. We’ve littered half the southwest with copious amounts of puppy poo! The best was when I almost broke my back slipping and sliding in the puppy poo, broke my flip flop, and failed to keep a puppy from covering itself in its sibling’s poo. It was pretty funny. For Jer, it was comic relief and she was of no help as she was doubled over in laughter as I cleaned the puppy poo from my between my toes in the rest stop drinking fountain (one reason why you should never use those! LOL!). Again, we garnered a lot of attention with 31 pups coming in and out of the truck to potty. At one stop we met an awesome little guy named Jaden who helped us unload and load all of the puppies. Although, I have to say that it was a little concerning to see an 8yr old wandering a rest stop, with no parents in sight, talking to everyone he met. Kid, didn’t your parents teach you about “stranger danger”? Eventually mom showed up, met the puppies, and explained to Jaden that this is why they spayed their German Shepherd (kind of wanted to tell her that she needed a lecture on talking to strangers, but Jer and I held our tongues). Then, we were on the road again!
Our next hours were punctuated by potty stops every few hours. By the end we had it down to a science. I am very grateful for the Starbucks that we found near El Paso, TX that was open after midnight. I am also super grateful to the staff who made sense of my order through my tired slurred words, and didn’t judge me for the puppy poop all over my shirt. Another memorable stop was our 4am middle of nowhere potty stop where we pretty much wanted to die, change out of our clothes (which were covered in little poopy pawprints), and go to bed, but we pressed on. Once the sun came up, the driving got easier, the tiredness dissipated, and we neared our destination. A fun part of the trip was going through the Border Patrol checkpoints. All you have to do when asked what is in the car, just respond, “31 dogs!” and you will be waved right through the line while the Border Patrol agent looks at you like you are a crazy person, which is probably close to the truth!
Mid morning, we emerged from the desert, came through the hills, and found ourselves in San Diego. We arrived at Andrea and Roberts, were met by Susan, Becky, Rosanna, and Brigid, who all so graciously opened their homes to foster these little Texas puppies. In some ways, Jer and I had the easy part of these dogs journey to find their new families. It’s their foster families who will give them love and care while working hard to connect them to their future families. I have to say, that the transport was easier than expected. There were 2 painful hours from 3-5am, but overall, I’d do it again in a second to help save these sweet puppies who would otherwise have nowhere else to go. Later in the day I said goodbye to my last puppy, said goodbye to Clifford, who kept us all safe on our journey, and headed home for some much needed sleep, a nice warm shower, and some puppy kisses from my own crew.
Many thanks to everyone who helped make this trip possible. For those who contributed financially, you saved 31 lives last weekend. For those of you who contributed some much needed moral support, we are very grateful! Your FB posts and e-mails kept us going on our drive. For those of you who shared our story and helped bring awareness to the plight of TX dogs, I am very grateful. Labradors and Friends Dog Rescue, and our friends, followers, and adopters, have gone above and beyond in helping give these TX “death row” dogs a second chance at a happy life. I would do this trip again in a second to save more Labby lives!!!