On Thursday, March 1, PugHearts was contacted by Homeward Bound to help care for 32 pugs who were rescued from a hoarding situation.
The story got significant news coverage in the Oklahoma City area. KOCO news story.
We were at a fundraising event for PugHearts and CAP that evening and began brainstorming about how best to help. Keith Hall suggested that he could call local commercial rental companies and see if someone would donate the use of a van to facilitate the trip. First thing Friday morning he got on the phone and spoke to Ann Rawlinson at PV Rentals who donated the use of a brand new cargo van for the trip.
The cry went out for volunteers to make the trip and help with supplies via Facebook and I soon got my co-pilot: Becky Roark. She was selected first from the many who offered to help because she was available first on Friday afternoon to pick up the vehicle and give her drivers license for the paperwork in person. It may have been poor planning on our part: the two shortest volunteers to climb in and out of the tallest vehicle either of us had ever driven!
Saturday morning Becky and I loaded up the van in my driveway and headed to Sugarland Pet Hospital to pick up donated crates, harnesses and supplies. By 11 AM we were all smiles and ready to ride!
By 5 PM we made it to Oklahoma!
By 8 we were checked in to the LaQuinta in Norman, OK, and got directions to the puppies’ location from Gail, the director of Homeward Bound. She was very apologetic about not being able to be there in the morning, since she had an adoption scheduled. She gave us the sad news that one of the puppies we were scheduled to pick up had just died. We were so sad, but were ready to hit the road Sunday morning at 8 AM.
We then drove to Dana Scott’s beautiful ranch in Blanchard, OK.
The younger puppies were crated in a beautiful sunroom, while the older ones were just outside in a fenced run where Dana was letting them go potty and enjoy the morning sun.
We had already decided the puppies were all to have candy names. These are the four older pups (about 20 weeks).
Middle: Godiva and Hershey Kisses
The little pups:
Bottom: Baby Ruth
Then we had to put harnesses on each one, picking the right size from our selection. Later in the trip we would be glad we had a “handle” for each pup! Here is Jujube (a shy, scared, young adult) getting pretty in pink:
Dana had to say goodbye to each of the puppies. Here she is with Goober.
Dale helped carry the pups to the van, where Becky and I started to make the first of many climbs in and out of the tall doors. Finally we were all loaded up and ready to ride!
We were worried about the smallest puppies, especially the little black female, who was quite lethargic and dehydrated. We named her Baby Ruth. Dana said she was the only one who didn’t drink that morning. After a phone conference with Cindy, we made a stop at the closest Petsmart and got some puppy replacement milk and an eyedropper and got her to take about 5 droppers full. I held her on my lap in the sun while Becky drove.
After an hour or so, Baby Ruth perked up and started looking around.
When we made it to Texas an hour or two later, we stopped for the first potty break, setting up our x-pen at the Texas welcome rest stop.
The older pups all went potty and had a drink; then they wanted to play. The two bigger fawn males, Goober and Bazooka, were VERY interested in JuJube, who is probably in heat. Although she was still very shy with us, Jujube started to play with her male admirers!
Baby Ruth and Reese’s just kind of huddled together, while Skittles seemed the strongest of the little ones. He sat up and was interested in the goings on, but did not participate.
Godiva (she’s pretty and knows it; a bit of a diva) and Hershey (KIsses):
Bazooka who also has an injured eye:
Then it was time to load back up (did I mention how short we are and how tall that van is?). We made it through Dallas, where we determined I’m a better navigator than Becky is. We made no wrong turns on the way up, but missed the exit from I35-E to I45 twice coming home, allowing us to tour downtown Dallas on a sunny Sunday afternoon!.
Around this time the little ones started to vomit. Each time, Becky crawled out of her front seat, into the back, took the little ones out of their crate (did I mention how handy those harnesses were?), changed the potty pads and put them back in.
We made the next stop in Centerville. The bigger pups had lots of fun, and all drank and went potty as soon as released in the pen. The little ones still looked pitiful, so they all got more milk by dropper. Skittles was starting to look worse than at the last stop; his eyes had a discharge and he was less alert. Reese’s and Baby Ruth both walked around a bit, which we found encouraging, although they are both so skinny it breaks your heart. The bigger pups knocked over the milk can, and tried to lick every blade of grass with milk on it so we decided to feed the bigger pups some kibbles, which they all enjoyed.
We changed potty pads in all the crates and loaded the babies up one at a time. That van step is even taller carrying a wiggle-worm puppy! Becky and I commiserated about aching knees and decided the next time we would bring along someone younger to climb in and out!.
Around Huntsville, the diarrhea started. At least we were smart enough to reload the three sick little ones in a crate on the other side of the van so the door opened towards the front, making the pad changing a bit easier for me than it was for Becky. By then it was getting dark, so I sat on the floor in the back with a flashlight since we couldn’t figure out how to turn the dome lights on, and kept changing pads as each one got sick. I think I’ll burn the jeans I was wearing rather than try to clean them (and they didn’t even have paint on them)!
We finally pulled into Sugarland Pet Hospital where we offloaded the three sick little ones to get some emergency subcutaneous fluid, and took the rest to their foster home in Katy which had an isolation room all set up.
We made it home about 10:30 PM. It was one of the longest, most rewarding days of my life!