Rescue Mission

If you want the single most gratifying volunteer experience in your life, rescuing dogs from euthanasia by transporting them to a no-kill shelter is probably not what you’re looking for. However, if you have the inclination to do something nice, and you’re not really looking for that warm feeling inside at the end of the day, and you can deal with the smell, and the noise, and the traffic, by all means don’t let me scare you away. It’s an important service.

This past summer I volunteered at a shelter near where I live. The staff was great, the animals were (mostly) adorable, and the whole experience was generally pleasant. Every couple of days or so, Steve and I would go there and scoop some poop, fill some dishes, and play with some animals. As the summer wore down, a conversation transpired that went something like this:

Shelter manager
So where are you off to when you leave here?
I’m going back to New York City. I go to NYU
I’ll be headed to Cobleskill for another year, but I’ll be in the city on weekends
Shelter manager
Oh? That’s very interesting. Do you come home often?
When our breaks match up I pick up Steve and we head home.
Shelter manager
How would you feel about bringing some dogs back with you from New York? It’s so hard there, there’s so little space that they euthanize hundreds of animals every day. *puppy eyes*
Well… I don’t usually drive down there—
Shelter manager
If you’d be willing, we could take care of gas and whatever else you’d need
Sure, I guess so. I’ll get in touch before my first break

This past weekend was my first break, a four day weekend for Columbus Day. Steve didn’t really get any extra time off, but since he has four day weekends anyways we decided to come home. We got in touch with the shelter manager, who put us in touch with a shelter manager in the city, and we were on our way. I left Friday after work, caught the thruway, and the journey began.

Driving into New York was not as difficult as I expected it to be. It’s just like driving on a five-lane one-way highway with stoplights.

Everyone involved in the transaction was very friendly, almost overly so. It was as if they thought we’d spook at sudden movements. In the city, the woman gave us a brief rundown of the dogs we were transporting. One was a 15 year old blind toothless Pekingese. Somehow I didn’t find him terribly threatening. The second dog was a 13 year old white miniature Poodle, Doodle. The very concept of “Doodle the Poodle” made my brain hurt, but he was very good natured (and shortsighted) so I was able to cope. The third dog was a 3 year old Lhasa Apso with a biting problem. I think he was too terrified of the whole situation to bother, because he didn’t even look at me funny. The woman at the shelter took care of everything for us, gave a few cautionary words, and we were on our way.

Driving through New York was obviously pretty upsetting to the dogs. Doodle and the Lhasa Apso would not be quiet. The Pekingese was thouroughly unconscious for the entire process. I can’t imagine that the stop-and-go traffic was too pleasant in the back of the car in crates. I thought to myself “Self, It’s ok. As soon as we’re out of the city, we’ll be cruising and they’ll be fine.” Boy did I ever have me fooled

If possible, you should never drive out of New York on a Friday at evening rush hour. The traffic is absolutely nuts. As soon as you think it’s safe to cruise, some jackass thinks it’s time to change lanes and slow down in front of you. In terms of highway driving, it varies between slow and crawling. All this, of course, doesn’t improve the mood of the animals in the rear of my car.

Once we hit PA it was much smoother. There was a cold gloomy misty rain all the way, and it was pretty dark, but at least the traffic thinned. “It’ll be smooth sailing from here, Self” I said. I am such a liar

Just across the NY-PA border (re-entering NY), disaster struck. Fortunately it missed me and hit somebody else. Unfortunately, their misfortune had me stopped in traffic for an hour while police and EMTs cleaned up.

So, after a total of 12 hours on the road for me, we arrived at the shelter. Somehow the shelter manager was still as perky at midnight as she ever was at 8 in the morning. That woman must put away more coffee than I can even think about.

When we got to the shelter and got the dogs settled, there was a surprise. Eight two-week-old puppies and their mother had recently arrived at the shelter. As things worked out, there was a little warm feeling at the end of the day anyways.

4 thoughts on “Rescue Mission

  1. what you did for those dogs is awesome, dave. despite all the crap (literal and figurative), sticking with it and getting them to safety is incredible. you should feel proud and satisfied that you did such a great thing :o)

  2. “That woman must put away more coffee than I can even think about.”
    don’t be naiive, dave. she laces her mountain dew with coke. it’s the only answer.
    you and your adventures. i can see where this is heading. one day, you’ll be out in the middle of the ocean trying to get to land, with three one-eyed, deaf cats and a two-legged dog. then, once you get on the deserted island, you’ll say to yourself, “dr. mcmasta shasta always said, ‘if i were stranded on a desert island, all i’d want is some alcohol’…now, where’s the tequila?” oh dear.

  3. I have a Lhasa Apso – got her from a “Rescue Mission.” Five years ago she came into our house – petrified – and with a “biting problem.” Today, she is the most loving dog one could ever imagine. God Bless You for saving just one Lhasa Apso! Also, glad of the good fortune of the Blind Pekingnese and Poodle Doodle!