Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mind If I Crash Here Tonight?

Lucky, Our Overnight Guest
Somehow an 85-pound yellow lab-horse mix ended up in our living room last night. It might sound as if he hitch-hiked his way up I-95, knocked on our door, and asked, "Hey guys, mind if I crash here tonight? I hear you like dogs." And, while opening the door, we said, "Sure, Lucky, make yourself at home." But the truth is that it was a little more planned than that.

The dogs with our rescue come primarily from shelters in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina with the help of a system called Rural Shelter Transports. (In addition to their Facebook page I just linked to, they also have a blog.) I've referred to this process before as the doggie underground railroad.

Here's how it works: Rescues groups commit to pulling certain dogs from shelters in these areas. The dogs just need to hitch a ride. Starting on Saturday morning, volunteers near the shelters drive the dogs about an hour north. They pull over to a rest stop where more volunteers take the dogs and drive them another hour north. These exchanges happen many times over up the East Coast. At different points in the ride, dogs are taken off the transport and are taken into their receiving rescues by volunteers who are waiting at the assigned rest stops.

With the cooperation of MANY people, thousands of dogs are pulled from shelters and sent to rescues each year. To get an idea of just how many people are involved and the logistics behind it, check out this week's "run sheet," as they call it. You'll see how dogs come on and off at given points.

The entire length of this weekend's transport from Lexington, VA to Worcester, MA couldn't be done in one day. (Imagine driving this route yourself and stopping every hour. And imagine the stresses on the animals.) The mid-way stopping point on Saturday night was our exit off the Turnpike. When the transport reached our area, the volunteers pulled over and handed off some animals to receiving rescues. For instance, our rescue took in several dogs at this rest stop. These dogs were then immediately given to their foster homes. But what about the dogs who still have miles to go in the journeys? Well, they just need a place to crash for the night.

Lucky's Luggage
When we volunteered to take a dog last night, we didn't imagine we'd get an 85-pound beast. But it didn't matter how much he weighed. Lucky was a gentle soul and a kind house guest. We could tell someone had taken good care of him in Virginia; he came with his own luggage bag filled with a blankie and stuffed animals. He even knew how to sit and lie down on command! We gave him some dinner, took him for a walk, and put him to bed. At 9am this morning, we took him back to the rest stop where more volunteers were waiting to continue his journey. According to the run list, he should be well on his way to Massachusetts by now. We'd wish him good luck, but we think he has enough of that to go around. :)

Please find Rural Shelter Transports on Facebook and "like" them. They can always use volunteers to drive one leg of the trip or take an overnight guest. It's really a small time commitment, but it's one of those reminders that every little bit counts.


  1. Kim, this is wonderful - thanks so much for offering Lucky a place to stay for the night!

  2. One Tail Has to give a huge thank you to our temp. foster Ivy and her husband who lovingly kept him for 3 weeks for us in VA. As well as to you Kim for giving him a safe place over night and all the volunteer drivers on his long trip to MA and as always Erin S for her hard work. THANK YOU From One Tail At A TIme Rescue

  3. Hi Kim! Just wanted to say as a rescue dog that you are doing a very wonderful thing. For all rescue doggies out there, thank you! And Lucky is very very... well, lucky (pun intended!) for finding a foster home in your family.


  4. @ WineyChicks - Hats off to Ivy and her husband! It must have been hard to say goodbye to that lovable goofball!
    @ Summer - Thanks! There are LOTS of people doing great things for doggies like yourself. Thanks for visiting!

  5. Wow, that is amazing! Our Mama hopes she can maybe help with something like that one day (when she has her own house and car, preferably!)