Friday, January 20, 2012

The Rescue of Dallas and Austin

Austin surveying the snow - we're definitely not in Texas anymore.

This is just a little adventure story.

2006 had a sad beginning. Both of my wife's parents passed away three days apart. Her very dear friend died after suffering a head injury. And Duke died.

Duke was our elderly springer spaniel. His litter-mate, Duchess, had been put down a year earlier. For the previous ten years, they were our constant companions and our daughter's playmates. Duke's departure left a big hole in our lives.

It wasn't long before my wife began combing the internet and found English Springer Rescue America. There were hundreds of springers up for adoption all over North America, but only a few available pairs. We narrowed these down to a couple of boys, Austin and Dallas, of Dallas, Texas.

As rescue situations went, theirs was far better than most. They had been well treated, but their humans were splitting up and moving into smaller premises and neither could take take the dogs.

We started to correspond with Lori, the dogs' mum. So that they would recognize me, Lori suggested I send a 'snapshot' of myself, in the form of an old t-shirt. For the benefit of US Customs, the package was labeled: "This envelope contains one used t-shirt (no monetary value). Sender will be visiting addressee on November 4, 2006 to adopt 2 spaniel dogs. T-shirt is to acquaint dogs with sender before arrival."

To get from Victoria to Dallas, I took the Coho, a Washington State ferry, from Victoria to Port Angeles and drove to the Sea-Tac airport near Seattle. Because I arrived in the evening and was catching a morning flight out, I just slept in the parkade in the back of our station wagon.

I arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth and checked into a motel. Beth, the dogs' 'social worker' from the agency, drove me across town to meet Lori and the dogs. Whether they recognized me from my 'snapshot' or were just friendly, I'm not sure, but when I arrived, Austin and Dallas ate me alive. Although Lori was clearly glad that we got along so well, I was sure she was dying inside, trying not to think about saying goodbye in the morning.

The flight would be leaving at 7 a.m., and because I was transporting dogs, I was supposed to arrive at the airport by 5 a.m. Which meant I had to be at Lori's around 3 a.m. Which meant I had to get up around 1 a.m. for Beth to pick me up at 2 a.m.

My cell phone alarm went off at 1 a.m. and I groggily had a shower, got dressed, packed, went downstairs, checked out, turned in my key to a rather puzzled desk clerk, and went outside to wait for Beth. For some reason, I glanced through the lobby window and noticed that the wall clock said 11:45. I don't recall exactly what I said, but WTF??? comes to mind. After the clerk confirmed that the clock was right, I sheepishly asked if I could check back in for a couple of hours. Evidently, my not so smart phone re-set the time to PST thinking I was still in British Columbia.

At Lori's, the goodbyes were as heart wrenching as I had feared. We loaded Dallas and Austin into their large brand new crates in the back of Beth's van while Lori tried unsuccessfully to keep a brave face. I gave her a big hug and promised to look after her boys.

After the plane landed at Sea-Tac, a porter and I trundled the surprisingly cheerful dogs in their crates on trolleys out to the parkade, only to discover that evidently, not so smart Dave had neglected to check some important measurements. There was no way the crates would fit into the station wagon. We had to take them apart and nest the four halves together, and let Dallas and Austin loose inside the car.

Although I politely asked the boys to stay in the back seat, they weren't having any of it, and insisted on keeping me company in the front. In fact, Dallas insisted on sitting on my lap and trying to drive, which made for an interesting trip up Interstate 5. By the time we reached the ferry, we had bonded nicely.

On the Coho, the dogs were rather subdued. I don't know if they were missing their mum, or whether it was just the strangeness of the smell of the salt air and a floor that moved.

When we got home, the dogs ran inside and immediately ate not only my wife but also my daughter alive, confirming that they found us to be satisfactory, and the big hole in our lives was instantly filled.

We corresponded with Lori to let her know how the boys were doing, and sent her some photos of them doing what they love most.

Running when it's sunny

Running when it's rainy

Running when it's snowy

After running

Dallas watching Patsy Cline - Austin not so much...


  1. Great story! Makes me look forward to getting another pup of my own when I get back to the States. In the mean time, here in McLeod Ganj, there's dozens of feral dogs. Unlike the rest of India, these are vaccinated for rabies by the local community and are all very friendly. About four of them have already adopted me and follow me around whenever I go out and about. Pretty cool!

  2. Thanks, Chris. A faithful dog friend is hard to beat. It's hard to imagine what it's like in India but I'm enjoying reading about your trip over at The Narrow Way.

  3. What a story! I can't imagine giving up Austin and Dallas -- the pain, the sorrow -- but Lori ensured they found an excellent new home. Love seeing them run in all kinds of weather. Good on ya, David.

  4. Thanks Tara - I can't imagine giving them up either. Dallas is still pretty glommy and insecure - not sure if he was that way before or as a result of the move - all we can do is give him tons of love and attention, which he laps up with gay abandon.

  5. What a delightful story! All these loving beings make our sacred space. Hopefully someday I will return to being a crazy dog lady (verse this crazy cat lady I've become)!

  6. ohhhh such beautiful dogs! Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.

  7. Oh Lynette, what an escapade you had with Sprout- that would have driven me crazy! Our cat (Puddin') tolerates the dogs and has even been caught snuggling with them when she thought no one was watching...

    Hi Susan! They are very sweet. Dallas (the one with the dark forehead) was just draped over my knee as I was typing :)

  8. Who knew that 6 years ago with all the troubles, that fate would spin it's web to create this happy time? Wonderful outcome for two beautiful dogs and some very fine people who opted to do the kind thing!

    I'm thrilled to pieces at this journey of love! All smiles! ;)

  9. Thanks, Bea - who knew indeed! Although fate's web is way too complex to figure out, it sure serves up some nice surprises.

  10. We have just adopted a wonderful rescue dog from Mexico... his name is Cinco de Mayo for the street where he was found in Guanajuato. Cinco was a filthy and frightened little dog with a huge festering dog bite on his side. He is happy and healthy now - you can see him on my FB - and loves Dallas Road walks... brings back memories of walks with Spot, Sherry & Nicky. Thanks for sharing your spaniel stories - funny how after all these years you still have spaniels and I have a terrier cross.

  11. Hi Heather, thanks for visiting! Good old Spot, Sherry and tubby Nicky.

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