Canine Underground Railroad is Traveling a Road Near You

By isak, June 15, 2009


Several months ago, I was searching the internet for suggestions on how to move my pets back East. I am contemplating a move back home to Delaware from Texas to be closer to family, but I don’t know how to get my dogs and cats there. I have several of each… more than a car full.

So I started looking on the internet. In my search, I stumbled upon several groups of people that transport dogs — and probably cats, too — from one side of the country to the other; north and south, east and west. And this is quietly going on all the time.

I never knew.

It has been going on long enough that there are certain protocols established: a health certificate from the vet, spayed/neutered, proof of rabies, sound temperament, paperwork, bowls, water, leashes, harnesses/collars, sheets to cover the inside of your car, paper towels and so on. There are pilots that volunteer their time and their plane to relocate small animals within their region. And there are volunteers that offer their time and their vehicles to drive “legs” of a dog’s journey from Point A to Point B. Some “legs” may be just an hour and some may be more.

Often the transferees come from death row in a shelter where their time is running out. They may be going to another shelter in a new area, a rescue organization or sometimes even a forever home. When the need arises to transport a dog, a notice is posted online with all the pertinent info: who the dog is, often a photo, temperament, special requirements, what he/she will be bringing, what you need to know, then a list of all the legs with dates and times. The core of volunteers regularly checks the various requests and signs up for the legs they can do.

From my tiny perspective here on the outside, it is incredibly orchestrated like a team track event. Instead of passing a baton, these people are passing a dog. Driver B meets Driver A at a certain location. The dog gets water and a potty break, is moved to the new car and begins the next leg. Driver C meets Driver B at a certain location. Water, potty break and on to the next leg. This goes on until the dog gets to the final destination. If it’s a long drive, someone volunteers to take the dog in for the night and the next day, the journey continues.

What a wonderful service they provide.

This morning I stumbled on a post from one of these “drivers” and got a really good belly laugh from her story. She is essentially a cat person, so you have to admire her willingness to step outside her preferred species to help three dogs for one leg of their life saving journey. As someone who has dogs, I know what she is explaining so well… it just smacks of DOGS! (This is an example of why dogs always lose the “Who’s better — dogs or cats?”)

What Was I Thinking?
Sun, 2009-06-14 13:47 — Robin Olson

So I volunteered to run another load of rescued Brittany Spaniels up to Hartford. This time it was going to be in MY little car and this time no puppies, but adults-so no crates, just loose dogs. No problem. I can do this.

Last night I prepped the car, put sheets all over the seats, packed up cleaning supplies, treats, water and a bowl. I knew where the pickup and drop off points were located, so I was ready! Now I just needed the doggies.

I reached the pickup location early and Debra was already waiting for me. I could tell the dogs wanted to BOUNCE OUT OF THE CAR. I grabbed Margo, who MUST be kept in the front seat, away from the other dogs or she gets pissed off. Debra grabbed Bailey and our new amputee, Kiley. The second they were out of the car it was complete chaos! Thank goodness we had a good hold of the leads. The dogs wanted to get moving! It was all we could do to get them to settle down enough so we could get them some water-which they inhaled, and get all their papers and other things transferred over to my car.

Then it was time to load my car. Debra was awesome and got two in the back while I held onto Margo. We loaded her last and it went fine, but the dogs didn’t want to sit down. They all wanted the front seat!


Margo is giving me that look…too bad I don’t know what “that look” means in dog-speak!

This is where I start wondering if I’m an idiot.

My car is full of goggies

Look at them! Little Kiley and Bailey are so sweet…ha ha ha! For NOW!

I get the car moving, realizing that the dogs have moved the sheets off the seats and are sliding all over the LEATHER cushions with their dirty feet. Oops.

The dogs settled down fairly quickly for which I was very grateful. Margo wanted to put her head in my lap, but it was too dangerous, so I just kept my hand on her head as I navigated through the traffic. So far, so good.

After a few minutes, the dogs were bored and started to shuffle around the car. I opened the small windows in the back and the dogs got all excited and bounced all over each other. Nice. Ok. Close windows. Settle down…whew…

The next 30 minutes were relatively fine, until I heard puppy Bailey make a funny sound. I looked over my shoulder to see him vomit something huge over my back seat and onto the floor. Then the stench of pepperoni dog barf filled the cabin. Ack! I almost barfed, myself. Nice. This is going great.

A second after that, Kiley farted some sort of death fart. The blend of doggie smells was intoxicating, cough cough…

It certainly motivated me to DRIVE quickly to get to the drop off location. I was running early and I prayed that Rachel would be there to get these beasts out of my car! I pulled myself together, took a breath, then Kiley BARKED suddenly and loudly! It scared the shit out of me and I almost drove off the highway!!!! I need to get these dogs OUT OF MY CAR!!!!!

Ok. It’s going to be OK…really..ha ha ha ha ha…oh boy.

There are no more photos. I got to the drop off place and had a hair raising time getting all the dogs into Rachel’s big truck. Margo discovered FOOD and was doing everything she could to pull the paper wrapped sandwiches towards her drooling mouth. The other two dogs wanted the front seat, too, but Margo would flip out if she hadn’t been so focused on the treats. I feared for Rachel, but she was calm. Ha ha ha..for now!

I waved farewell to Rachel and the goggies, then went to work cleaning the puke and mud out of my car. I am very happy to know I helped some goggies have a better life, but please, next time, no barfing in the car, OK? Cat barf is one thing, but dog barf…WOOF!
reprinted from Covered in Cat Hair blog

Yep, this is pretty much what I would expect my leg of the journey to be like. Thanks, Robin for the wonderful laugh this morning.

One Comment

  1. pamela gardner says:

    Would like to join your blog and help when I can. I’ve driven a couple of times for DriveforLife. I think this is wonderful. I am guardian over 6 dogs and 6 cats,