Monday, March 5, 2012

The Sweetest Transport Ever

I'm back from the mainland, with many photos to show and stories to tell.  But some will have to wait for a couple of  days.  The night before I left, I received a phone call from Lisa B, a volunteer with Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue.  A family in Nanaimo had received final approval for the adoption of a Turtle Gardens' dog being fostered in Burnaby.  Was it possible for me to transport the dog to her new family when I returned to the island Sunday?  Of course it was.  And I promised Yvette,  Lisa B and Denise and Tracey I'd blog about it.  So piggy lovers and Emma fans and family and friends will have to wait a few days, because today I'm beginning at the end of my trip: 

Over the past seven years I have transported dozens of rescue dogs – from shelter to fosterhome, from fosterhome to adopter, or simply as one small link in a long transport chain. Poodles and pitbulls, shelties and shih tzus, they have all melted my heart in some little way.  Yet seldom was I tempted to abscond with them.

Such was not the case with Chopstick. Had I not had three dogs waiting at home for me, I might seriously have considered running off with her. She was the sweetest transport ever.

Chopstick is a six month old pup, golden short haired body like a yellow lab, wrinkly brow and squinty eyes like a sharpei, blackish saddle like a German Shepherd, and long, long, long skinny legs (hence the name Chopstick). She is shy, nervous, but with a sweet, happy nature that reminded me so much of my lab Emma at that age. But that’s not why I wanted to run off with her.

The tale begins at a Walmart parking lot in Burnaby after a Sunday morning white knuckle drive in from the Fraser Valley. (OMG, I cannot believe all the construction, the traffic, the nonstop-big-city-absolutely-terrifying feel of the place! If ever I do abscond with a dog, you’ll find me hiding in some very quiet back-of-the-hills location, not within miles of a city!). A car with “See Spot Run” on the side pulls up, and I know this is my rendevous.  The farewell between Chopstick and her foster mom was poignant - Chopstick stood on her hind legs and wrapped her front limbs around Denise in an amazing rendition of a canine bearhug.

Chopstick was too tall for the crate which is permanently housed in the midsection of my van (between the front bucket seats and the rear bench seat), so I hoisted her into the space next to it. I fastened the leash to the back of my seat to avoid paws underfoot or mad dashes when a door was opened, and the door from the crate created a useful barrier across the space between the driver and passenger seats.

Foster mom!  Where are you going? Don't leave me!

Who're YOU?  And where are you taking me?

As I buckled myself in, I felt a nudge on my left hip. Then on the right hip. Back to the left hip. Chopstick was shoving her nose through the smallest of spaces to make sure I knew she was there. But she soon settled down for the ride to the ferry, and once in the lineup munched happily on a carrot.

Our van was loaded into the very centre of the ferry, with not even an infinitesimal sight of the ocean or the sky – just an overhead neon light and a lot of darkness. I planned to stay in the car with Chopstick, partly to keep her company but also to avoid having seatbelts chewed in two or the back bench seat de-stuffed - I've been there, done that, with young active dogs.

However, my two mugs of morning coffee and a tall glass of water necessitated a quick but rather urgent trip up one deck to the nearest washroom. I returned five minutes later to see long-legged Chopstick straddled across the crate-door-barrier, back feet on the van floor, front feet on the pile of stuff I’d heaped in a tub I keep between the driver and passenger seats. Just as I opened the driver's door,  Chopstick managed to hurl herself over the barrier, and suddenly my seat and my face was filled with dog.

I shoved my way in as Chopstick proceeded to clamber all over the steering wheel, awkwardly negotiate the long front dash of the van, tried out the passenger seat, clambered across  my lap, attempted to shove her body behind mine, and repeatedly used her long lanky legs to poke at whatever parts of my anatomy made for the handiest foothold.  All this, of course, was done with leash attached, leaving me to wonder if my obituary would read 'strangled' or read 'trompled to death'

Choptstick on dash of vehicle
Houdini Dog
Checking out the passenger seat
And back to the driver side

And then it happened: the act that began my fantasy of running away with her. She plonked herself down in that skinny space between the steering wheel and my not-exactly-flat belly, and proceeded to thoroughly wash my face.
I am sooooo glad to see you, transporting lady, here let me kiss you and kiss you and kiss you.”

Now I don’t always like it when a dog licks me, but there is a difference between the somewhat obsessive licking of my hands, arms, sleeves, and feet by some dogs, and the “Oh my goodness I’m so glad to see you and I think I love you” licking of an overgrown lab-type pup. One is annoying, the other is delightful. I laughed. And laughed, and laughed.

And the more I laughed, the more Chopstick snuggled in tighter and tried to meld right into my body. Giving her a giant hug I moved her to the side so I could at least have room to breath. She plonked herself down, half on the tub that held my belongings, half draped over my body;  she put her head on my shoulder, and tucked her nose alongside my cheek. A few more face washes with that long pink tongue, and she promptly went to sleep – her butt parked firmly on my lunchkit containing the sandwiches which my friend Ann had so kindly made for me for the ride home, on my thermos of coffee that was going to help keep me warm in the car on the ferry, on my book that I intended to read during the two hour journey, on the jacket I had placed handy in case I felt a chill.

You'll do, transporting lady, you'll do.

I looked at that sweet sleeping face so close to mine, and I felt that sweet puppy breath on my cheek, and that warm body snuggled in so tightly against mine, and I did what any soft-hearted doglover would do – I reclined the back of my seat as far as it would go, and joined her in a nice long snooze.

My dogs are not cuddlers – except foster dog Petey who just wants to lie on anyone’s lap. I have not had this kind of doglove since my Caleb passed away, and before that since Emma. It is the canine personality I most love. And sometimes love is found cuddled up with a young gold and black lovebug in a cold car on a dark ferry. I began to plot our disappearance.

Love at first lick

But at the other end of that boat ride, I knew there was a family with three kids and a three year old dog named Sam who were anxiously awaiting her arrival. And no matter how much I’d love to share my life with a long legged, yellow-bodied, lab-happy, kissing cuddlebug named Chopstick, my responsibility was to deliver her to them.

And that’s what I did. Chopstick, now Sophie, is with her forever family tonight.

Have a great life, Sophie – and thanks for the sweetest transport ever.


charlene and Storm said...

ahhh what a sweet story, that was a nice way to start my day reading that xxx

georgia little pea said...

Welcome home! What a lovely ferry ride.

Chopstick's face reminds me of Georgia's! She's got that same little bump on her nose. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip and did you mention piggies?

Jean said...

I did mention piggies, GLP - I have about a hundred pictures of the piggies to sort through. However, it might be a couple of days as Eddie is going in for his neuter and dental this morning so I shall have a big baby to look after for a few days. He is very upset at missing breakfast this morning! One more hour before the vet opens and I can get a break from his "feed me feed me feed me" song and dance! :)

EvenSong said...


Black Jack's Carol said...

What a heartwarming, early-morning read, Jean. You and Sophie were the best of travel companions, and I hope this is just the beginning of a wonderful life-journey for her. My best to Eddie. I think the fast before surgery might (almost) be the part I hate most. I guess it's a good thing they don't know the details of why they are being deprived of breakfast, but I always feel like such a meanie :)

Lisa B said...

So nice when you volunteer to help out and are rewarded with the bonus of transporting such a sweet dog...I'm so glad you wrote about it and even more glad that Chopstick didn't lay across your camera preventing you from taking those geat pics!

Denise F said...

Wow Jean, that really brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh out loud. I guess you know why she stole my heart too... She is such a cuddle bug and she knows how to hug! Thank you for transporting her, I knew she was comfortable with you when she nosed your nose almost the moment she met you. Great story and photos, thank you for posting it!
(but now I miss my Chopstick...)

Anonymous said...

this was such a heartwarming post Jean...we all need to read something like this once in a while..thank you

Cheryl K said...

Oh this is perfect, Jean, and Chopsticks aka Sophie is adorable. All your photos are awesome even the scrabbley ones that so nicely give us a visual of Chopstick's ninja antics to get close enough to love you.

LMP said...

What a lovely account of this transport run and a very special, if brief, connection with your charge! Have a wonderful life, Sophie!

Pofi says, "Now THAT is what a Shar Pei cross looks like!" Pretty pup!

Anonymous said...

That first picture of her face reminded me so much of Goodfishe's face.
Lovely pictures of your transport.


Funder said...

That is the sweetest story I've read this month. What a beautiful face and what a beautiful soul!