When I planned a driving trip to Florida in July to visit two of the largest shelters in the state, feed dogs in the Redland area of Miami, and rescue three to four dogs, no one — least of all me — knew what we would be taking back with us to Chicago. A good friend — a retired teacher — who was very involved in cat rescue agreed to go with me on the journey.
Even a week before the trip, after the jugs of water had been purchased, after the crates had been set up in the minivan to make sure they fit, after the lists had been made, it was a question as to which dogs would be returning with us.
One lucky dog, Ebbe, had already been pulled from Miami Dade Animal Services. Sara, the office manager for the veterinarian for Placing Paws Rescue of Libertyville (which was offering to sponsor the dogs), happened to see Ebbe’s picture online. Something about the picture tugged at Sara’s heartstrings. She showed Ebbe’s picture to Christie, one of the founders of Placing Paws of Libertyville, and said, “I’d love to foster this girl.” Then she realized that Ebbe was at Miami Dade Animal Services. “Oh, no. She’s in Florida,” Sara said, not realizing that one of the group’s foster families was planning the trip. Placing Paws said not to worry — they’d get Ebbe.
But when the rescue called the shelter to try to arrange for Ebbe to be pulled, they were stymied. Frustrated, they contacted me and asked if I could help. That’s when the magic of Facebook took over. After posting that I needed someone to help pull Ebbe and arrange for temporary foster, the Facebook private messages (PMs) began. A rescue in New York got a local rescue to pull Ebbe. They also found a local foster. When Ebbe came down with pneumonia soon after leaving the shelter, it was on PMs that her veterinary care was worked out.
One dog having been pulled, and now in temporary foster, two or three more could fit in the car. PMs and texts to Jessie Pena of the Redland Rock Pit Abandoned Dog Project yielded two more dogs who needed rescue. Lexi was a short dog who looked kind of like a mini-rottie. She had obviously had at least one litter of puppies and had been found running down a busy road. She needed rescue. And Bella was a gentle brindle dog who had lived with a woman and a cat in Redland. Bella and the cat lived outside the small trailer. She wandered a bit and had been hit by a car many months earlier. The rescue offered to take Bella and get her medical care, but the owner refused. Now, six months later, the owner told them she was moving and not taking her animals. Bella needed rescue.
Three dogs, and the minivan was almost filled. But I had managed to find one extra foster home. It was a family who only wanted to foster a puppy. They loved puppies! So Jessie was on notice that if a puppy (or two) appeared, they could make the trip as well. And as luck would have it, one puppy did end up needing a rescue. Minnie was a puppy, part of a group that had been rescued from Redland. But unlike her siblings, she was terrified of people — especially children. The family who had taken her had no other animals and a five-year-old son. This was not a good combination for Minnie. She went under a bed and wouldn’t leave for days — not even to eat. But once Minnie was in Jessie’s home with all the other dogs surrounding her, she became a different dog, outgoing and playful. The Chicago foster home had two other dogs — a perfect match!
After fruitful, but heartbreaking, visits to shelters and feeding the abandoned dogs in Redland, the minivan was packed and ready to make the trip back to Chicago with the four dogs. Hotels mostly limit dogs to two to a room, so an overnight had been arranged. One of the fosters, Bryn, had a friend in Nashville whom she asked about helping keep two of the dogs overnight. Her friend was in Minnesota on vacation, but she arranged for her neighbor to help. So the first day’s drive was from Miami to Nashville, with a stop in Palm Beach to pick up two of the dogs from their fosters.
Nashville was a long drive from Miami, so the we got an early start. Jessie brought two of the dogs to the Doral hotel. Bella (now named Jessie after her rescuer) and Minnie were in her car. Both of them were terrified of the new situation; car rides were still scary for them. Bella went in a crate and Minnie, the puppy, got to ride shotgun. At the exit near West Palm, the minivan met the two temporary fosters. Jody and Cheryl brought Lexi and Ebbe. Both dogs got into their crates, and the trip was on.
Interesting notes from the trip: rest stops can be scary places for frightened dogs because they are noisy. Exiting the highway and finding a cemetery is a good idea because
cemeteries are quiet. We were respectful, stayed off the actual plots, and cleaned up after the dogs. The dogs stretched their legs, but three of the four refused to urinate or defecate for the whole trip. At La Quinta outside Nashville, during the morning potty break, there were three kittens sitting outside a shed, looking at the dogs. We contacted a local group to see about getting them trapped. They might be trapped and returned to the hotel, but they were adorable! Maybe they will be fostered and adopted?
The trip ended with three mature dogs and one puppy happily ensconced in foster homes. Lexi is sweet, affectionate, very smart (watch the youtube video of her removing the cap from a jug of water and then delicately drinking out of it), and housebroken. While she does need obedience training, she is eager to learn and wants to please.
Bella was seen by a vet who recommended amputation of her injured leg. Too much time had passed since the leg was injured — it was not reparable. She had a difficult time after the amputation. She was fine getting around on three legs because she had basically been doing that since the accident. But the pain was intense, and when she didn’t get up or eat for 24 hours, she was given morphine for pain. That helped and she began eating and her tail wagged. Now she’s on half doses and she’s doing much better. Her stitches come out in a few days, and she will continue to heal, socialize with new people, and find a loving, patient home where she can continue her journey. To watch her getting used to walking on three legs, see her YouTube video.
Minnie is coming out of her shell at her foster home.She is interacting with the children in the home, sleeping on a bed, and learning to potty outside. It’s a slow process for her to become a confident puppy, but the family is patient. In the meantime, she has been showered with treats and chew toys.
And Ebbe was only in her foster home for one night. She was adopted the next day by someone whose dog had recently passed away.
One minivan, two women, four dogs, and four happy endings. To donate to Placing Paws of Libertyville to help with Jessie’s surgery and the other medical costs associated with this rescue, please visit their website and click on the donate button in the upper right corner. You can also donate on their YouCaring website for Jessie.