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Maryland to California
2011 July through September 

Lost in Maryland when a disingenuous person took money from the owner to care for these dogs and then dropped them at a shelter as strays, these two dogs pined for their family for weeks until she found them, thanks to the internet and Facebook.  Then the challenge was to get them to California.  Six people worked to get them to New Orleans, where we kept them for a week and then flew them back (with our two dogs plus two rescue chihuahuas) to California.  The ecstatic reunion was a sight to behold!  Here's a photo of their first sight of mom, and at a fuel stop in Roswell, New Mexico:

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NEW VIDEO!  A week after the reunion, watch Gunner and Cain and their new canine friend Ginger playing on a California beach with their human family!  Happy Happy!!  Makes all the work of rescue worthwhile for happy endings like this one!  

 SEE UPDATES 20110930 and 20110923 BELOW - One of the happiest reunions ever!  And along the way, another young pair of chihuahuas added at nearly the very last minute -- Abby and Dinozo -- got their ride back to California, too!  


UPDATE 20110929 THURSDAY:  The reunion was everything and more than we could have wished for!  When Cain saw his mom, in the Business Jet Center at Oakland airport, he literally jumped into her arms while Gunner danced around them both.  Happy, happy, happy.  What more to say?  Here are a few still photos, but take a few minutes to watch the videos, and get ready to smile!  Some cell-phone photos of the long day's flight home from New Orleans today are included too.  And for the whole story, including photos of their sojourn from Maryland and their time in New Orleans, read on!  





Read and watch the rest of their saga below, from the beginning where they lost first their mom and then their home last summer!
UPDATE 20110923 FRIDAY -- Here are some photos taken in New Orleans with Gunner and Cain and their temporary canine and human packs -- dogs Piper (husky), Ford (long-haired german shepherd), and Tilly (terrier mix) and humans Bonny and Brayton.  Gunner and Cain are being so good that most of the time they need no leashes at all, which makes things really easy for us!  Well, as easy as having five dogs at a time in one car, one house, one office... Thank heaven for dog parks!

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More photos from the week in New Orleans are in a gallery below, plus some photos of their journey from Salisbury, Maryland to New Orleans!

Here's their original story:

The move didn't work out the way it was supposed to!  Mom went on ahead to California and left these two wonderful senior canine buddies, Gunner and Cain, with someone she paid to care for them until she could get established in California and arrange for their transport and life with her there.  But she didn't know the person well, and he took the money and decided to dump the dogs at a shelter.  He claimed that they had been dumped on his property and that he knew nothing about their backgrounds or where they belonged.  The Humane Society of Wicomico County in Salisbury, Maryland, smelled something fishy.  The dogs looked loved and cared for, they wore new harnesses, they were sweet, social, well-behaved dogs. They found an ID chip in Gunner and traced him back to his mom in California, but she could not yet have them in California and could not afford the $3000 cost she had been quoted to transport them to California.  

The Humane Society knew that it would be almost impossible to find a willing and acceptable home for two large ten-year-old male dogs together.  The boys are devoted to each other, and separating them would just be too cruel. So they pursued every avenue for transport they could find, including those who advertise that they will fly animals in private airplanes.  All responded with reasons such as the dogs were too big (both are about 75 lbs), it was too hot, the distance was too far, and so on.  But the word went out.  A long-time rescuer in the Maryland area named Sue Nevins heard, and she told another rescuer from Virginia named Patti Stinson, and those ladies started the ball rolling -- er, the dogs moving! It was early August when Patti contacted On Wings Of Care, and we told her that we would be back in the New Orleans area working in the Gulf from mid-August until early September and could fly the boys back to their mom in Oakland, CA at that time.  

The plans started flying for how to shuttle the dogs to New Orleans so that we could fly them home to California. We had planned to meet some Sea Shepherd friends in New Orleans over Labor Day, who were driving there from Atlanta, GA.  Perfect!  They could drive the dogs to us!  So the ladies of Maryland and Virgina began networking for the dogs' journey down the east coast to Susan in Atlanta.  But then Hurrican Irene hit.  That ended those plans, so we postponed a week.  Then Hurricane Lee came to New Orleans, and we postponed again.  We finally set the date for the weekend of September 17, and we had a chain of five different people set up to get the boys from Salisbury, MD to New Orleans, LA. And it worked!

As I write this part of the story, Gunner and Cain are with me at the New Orleans Lakefront airport, in an upstairs office, with me and my two senior rescue dogs Ford and Tilly.  They are snoring peacefully on blankets next to each other and just a few feet from Ford and Tilly. They must know that there is only good here for them, and they have learned to trust all the human angels who have been caring for them from day to day for the past few months.

Below are some photos of the boys and their journey thus far, which has brought them to New Orleans. We're planning to leave for California in a day or two, as weather and schedules permit.  A day or two of settling in and getting some good rest with a loving family will do them some good.  They are very, very sweet dogs!

We'll start with photos of them at the shelter in Maryland, where the staff loved them as if they were their own. Gunner is the brindle one on the left, and Cain, who takes his lead from Gunner on most everything, is the black and white sweetheart on the right.

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Here are photos from the road trips of Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18.  And following the photos are brief stories of the wonderful people who made this happen. Following that will be the story of the rest of their long journey back to mom in California -- which as of this writing has not unfolded yet!


Here are more photos from the week in New Orleans, 18-25 September, 2011:

Meet the people who helped this journey happen:

For those of you who have sometimes wondered how you could do more to help rescue animals, note here that all of us involved here are everyday working folks who fit this stuff in on the side -- and love doing it.  Yes, it's inconvenient, and we sometimes get dirty and tired. But the animals are grateful, the people are the kindest, and you know you've saved some lives and hearts, canine and human. There's never a regret for a moment of it.  

Kim Engst from the Humane Society of Wicomico County in Salisbury, MD (photo 1a). Characteristically modest, Kim would only tell us about the 'incredible kennel staff' they have there, and from the obvious care and attention and love these dogs received there, she does not exaggerate!

Val Garcia is a major cat rescuer in northern VA who heard about these two dogs and started networking by email, eventually reaching Sue and Patti and, through another great rescue networker from the east coast -- Russell Ashton, reached On Wings Of Care.  

Sue Nevins drove the boys from Salisbury to Fredericksburg, VA (photo 1c). She has been doing rescue work for nearly seven years, focusing on getting dogs out of high-kill facilities and transporting them into rescues where they will find forever homes. She has just recently formed her own non-profit for this work, "Roadrunner Rescue."  

Patti Stinson drove the boys from Fredericksburg, VA to Concord, NC (sorry, we lost these photos of Patti, but they're in her car in photo 2a!). Patti is a dedicated and experienced rescuer with more than 18 years in the work.  Read about her work here, including her insightful "Rules of Responsible Rescue."  

Todd Wilson drove the boys from Concord, NC to Greenville, SC (photo 3a).  Todd learned about the need for help for these dogs on a message board of a local rescue group (Animal Adoption League). He became involved with animal rescue groups this summer, when he found a beautiful boxer mix stray, worked hard with a local adoption group to find her a wonderful family, and "quickly became hooked on helping dogs and people find each other."  Welcome to the work, Todd!    

Kathy Kleeman drove them from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA (photos 4a--4e).  Kathi learned of this journey from being on Patti's mailing list, and when she saw the need for transport between Greenville and Atlanta, she volunteered!  She has done volunteer work for animal rescue before, and her sister is a DVM in VA who knows Patti, but this was her initiation into volunteer animal transporting!  And she will be doing more!

Susan Hartland welcomed them into her and Erwin Vermeulen's home in Atlanta, GA for the night and drove them, with her and Erwin's foster dog Missy, to New Orleans on Sunday (photos 4c--6e). Susan has been rescuing animals, domestic and wild, on small and large scales, for a very long time. She has lived in Washington and Georgia, and on ships that travel the world and save whales in Antarctica from illegal slaughter (a former Communications Officer for Sea Shepherd with Erwin who was their Chief Engineer).  Her own dog, a cattle dog named Tango, is still going strong at 16 years! She and Erwin have hearts that care for Mother Nature's animals deeply and unequivocally.  

Bonny Schumaker received them in New Orleans and will fly them back to Oakland, California for On Wings Of Care (photos 6a--6e).  She is the President and Founder of On Wings Of Care, so if you're reading this website, you already know what floats her boat!  But without the support of her dedicated Directors and Advisors, many of these rescues couldn't be completed or afforded.  Special thanks to OWOC Directors Deb Castellana and Dave Couch for this one!

And last but definitely not least, some wonderful kind-hearted people have donated funds to help us all afford to help make this journey happen, and it could not have even begun without their help, as their generous encouragement has given us the courage to plan beyond what we could yet afford: Kathy Kleeman, Sharon Sirkus, and Brayton Matthews -- thank you for being silent heroes too! 

Stay tuned for the rest of the story, as the flight back to California occurs this week!