Los Angeles, California to Edmonton, Canada
This was a beautiful and exciting rescue flight! A bit too exciting in terms of winds and afternoon thermal turbulence for me to take my hands off the controls to snap any photos of the gorgeous Sierras, Cascades, and northern Rockies -- but trust me, they were sights to behold! Hansen (the poodle) seemed particular entranced with it all, and he was often standing on his hind feet right behind me gazing out at the scenery. But let's start at the beginning before we get to the excitement...
At the plane and ready to leave at 0500, we departed pre-dawn out of southern California's low marine layer and landed Hanford (near Fresno) with all smooth sailing. We refueled and taxied over to meet our precious canine cargo, and what a beautiful site it was -- so many happy, healthy-looking dogs! Each had arrived in his or her own roomy crate in an extra-large van specially renovated just for animal ground transport. Cheryl and her colleagues from Sportinghope Rescue had personally fostered all ten of these dogs for the past several days, so there were no surprises or behavior problems, and the dogs had clearly been well socialized and loved. Each had a new collar or harness with ID tag and leash, and their paperwork was in perfect order in one large three-ring binder.
We kept only two of them in crates for the flight, "Ladybug" because she was smaller and still skittish, and "Ody" because he was larger and occasionally felt the need to remind others that he was the boss. All the others we loaded one by one into the comfy bedding-lined cabin, where they were free to move around, restrained only from coming as far forward as the airplane controls. Each found a cozy place to his or her liking and settled in looking quite eager for this next adventure! As we left, Cheryl took photos of the dogs looking out the airplane windows and smiling -- here you'll see Hansen (poodle), Shelly (black pug mix), and Paco (chihuahua). The others were Archie, Manning, Missy, Stevie, and little George. All were one to four years old except for little George, who was just over eight months. Shortly after takeoff, young George's wishes were answered, and he spent the rest of the flight on my lap. :--))
Original plans to drop other dogs along the way and arrive in Edmonton the following day had been changed just that morning, so we decided to try to make it to Edmonton that night. That meant we had not a minute to waste, since Canadian flight rules require that we land there in daylight. Fortunately, tail winds were in our favor, and our speed over the ground averaged about 135 knots (155 mph). We made one fuel stop in Grangeville, Idaho, calculated our time to Edmonton and decided that we could make it, so we called Canadian customs and filed our required flight plan. Just over three hours later, we landed Edmonton at 7:30 pm -- almost exactly as we had estimated! This whole day was yet another example of a phenomenon we've experienced over and over again in animal rescue work: when we keep our focus on what is best for the animals with consideration to all rescuers involved, things seem to work out the way they need to, even when they are quite different from what we originally envisioned.
The arrival in Edmonton was the one of the happiest rescue scenes ever. Nearly thirty eager people showed up to meet these much-wanted ten dogs! Even with the short notice of our arriving Saturday evening instead of Sunday, all of the adopters had come, eager to welcome their new canine companions. Get ready to smile and maybe even cry when you see the video and photos of this lovely event!
We would like to honor and give publicly a very special thanks to Kari and Rene Mayer of CaliCan Rescue in Edmonton and Cheryl Neilsen of Sportinghope Rescue in Hanford. They are among the most professional and organized rescuers we have ever worked with, and their love for animals and people shines from them like light from the sun. Together, they carefully select animals from shelters in California who would otherwise be euthanized and match them with equally-carefully selected adopters in Canada. Their track record for happy endings and truly successful rescues is outstanding, and they bring together hundreds of dogs and families per year!
And there's no way any of this could have happened without the dedicated work and warm hearts of the many other volunteers and donors who supported this complete and successful rescue -- pulling these dogs from death, giving them nourishment, healing, protection, and reassurance, finding them homes, and then flying them there. Thank you Brayton, Deb, and Dave! Thank you Julia, Kym, and Dawn! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOF!!