MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Saving Gracie: the Animal Rescue Railroad in Action

Marco--RMLR Featured Dog
I recently became a volunteer with Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue, a small group of volunteers who locate Labrador retrievers and Lab mixes who are about to be euthanized, often with the help of out-of-state shelter volunteers who alert them to dogs whose time is running out. On Wednesday evening, my husband and I had the great fortune to participate in saving Gracie, a lab mix who found her way to Colorado via the efforts of The Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue (RMLR) and  Colorado Animal Rescue Express (C.A.R.E.). C.A.R.E. is one group RMLR works with to transport their dogs from "high-kill" states. Gracie came from Missouri and was picked up in Hayes, Kansas by the Colorado Animal Rescue Express  van, along with about 20 other rescued dogs. C.A.R.E. makes these runs twice a week to rescue dogs and cats from high-kill shelters in Colorado and neighboring states. They work with over 110 rescue organizations like Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue.

When we arrived in the parking lot meeting place and found the C.A.R.E. van, our very frustrating bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go rush "hour" drive to get there was immediately forgotten by both of us. Staring back at us from the open van were sets of uncertain, wondering dog and puppy eyes, represented by numerous breeds and mixes, still in kennels awaiting pick up from their rescue group. 

"What is going to happen to me now?" I could almost read in their precious faces. Other dogs had already been gathered from their crates and were being walked or led by a rescuer to their cars, on their way to foster homes. A woman by the van with a very kind, open face asked who we were. It was Linda, the person who started C.A.R.E. I could feel the love and sense of fulfillment radiating from her. I imagined she could feel the joy of having just given 20 dogs a second chance at life! If not for her efforts, they would all be dead soon. I'll never forget that scene. So inspirational! We introduced ourselves & told her we were with RMLR, looking for Gracie. She directed us to our RMLR transport coordinator, Jessica, just across from the CARE van.

I squatted down to a very frightened Gracie, looking warily about and pulling on her leash. I took off my glove and slowly held out the back of my hand. She sniffed my hand, then immediately gave my chin several licks.

"Wow," said Jessica. "That's the most we've seen from her all night! She is so scared." Jessica had already chipped Gracie, and we did a hurried exchange, with Tom placing Gracie in the kennel in back of my car. She tried to get away at first, her body frozen in fear as he picked her up. 

After warning me that Gracie was a "flight risk," off we drove to take her to her new foster home. Gracie whined periodically, and I talked to her, explaining to her that this drive was much shorter than the one she just endured, and that she would be well cared for in her new foster home. Every time I spoke to her, she stopped whining. Soon, Tom joined me. The time between her whining lessened. I explained to her about "forever homes," and assured her she was safe. The whining ceased completely.

When we arrived at the foster home, Karen's (foster mom) husband came out so he and Tom could carry Gracie's kennel into the house. Thump, thump, went her tail. A good sign. She was smiling a little now, and the fear was gone. We were met inside the front door by Karen, her anxiously anticipating 2 children, and their Golden Retriever.The men placed the kennel on the floor and opened the door. Off Gracie galloped, wasting not a moment as she leaped up and began playing with the Golden; she then ran to explore the house. That was my next moment of inspiration and reward for the evening, seeing the joy and the opening up of a little dog who less than an hour ago was terrified.

But inspiration didn't stop there. I considered the beauty of what was happening here; how wonderful it was for a family to engage in such a life-affirming activity together with their children. To invite an unknown dog into their family and space, if only for a little while; to be Gracie's springboard into her new life. What a beautiful value to teach and share with children, that of giving life and love to an abandoned animal! The energy all around us was high and joyful.

Please visit the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue website to learn more about their mission, to volunteer, or to see their adoptable dogs. RMLR  has no shelter and relies ONLY on foster homes.

Please visit the Colorado Animal Rescue Express website to learn more about their wonderful mission. Since C.A.R.E.'s inception on 6/27/2007, 415 transports, 7,363 dogs and 483 cats have been saved through their transport.

So, who really rescues who? Ah, indeed anyone involved in rescuing animals knows that the act indeed does boomerang ... and the gift is to the giver. 

Posted By:
Dawn Kairns 
Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life A Story of Love
"They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same." -- Author Unknown
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