2011 – Why did I have a picture of a black-and-white pooch on my blog with no explanation? Well, I didn’t want to tell the story because I didn’t want to revisit a sometimes painful trip if it didn’t come out all right. But it did, so now I can tell. Here’s the timeline.

Wednesday, January 26 – I saw Meaux’s (pronounced Mo) picture on Facebook.  She was in Louisiana, a thousand miles away from me.  I’d seen lots of homeless dogs’ pictures on Facebook, but for some reason, I couldn’t shake Meaux’s likeness from my thoughts.  She started haunting me right off the bat.

Thursday, January 27 –  By the next morning, I did some research.  I found out dogs in the shelter she was in did not have a chance of adoption because that shelter was closed to adoptions by the public.  If she or any pet in that shelter were to have a way out, it would be through a 501(c)3 rescue.  Also, she had 4 days.  The shelter was under strict orders not to have more than one pet in a run at a time.  That meant euthanasia would be in her near future without my help, or another rescues help.

I remembered hearing about Pilots and Paws (PNP).  I had “liked” their Facebook page a while ago, but never thought I’d use their services.  I went to their website, got a log-in name, and poked around.  I saw a lot of forums and found that some of the listings actually had a DONE applied to them.  Pilots and rescues were working together to transport dogs all over the United States.  It really worked.

I found a pilot listed in LA and called him.  I also emailed him directly and through the website.  I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure if I was doing this in the right order.  Contacting pilots first or the shelter?  Well without a pilot, I couldn’t get anywhere with saving Meaux, so I talked myself into pilots first.  I never heard from the first pilot I made contact with, but I had also tried a second pilot in LA.  He was as green as I was, but he did pick up the phone.

I explained my situation, that he was my first step.  And that’s when I found out his situation.  These pilots have planes that aren’t equipped to fly 1,000 miles in one full swoop.  Silly me!  I assumed the planes were as capable of flying a 3,000 mile non-stop flight as a commercial aircraft.  So this was a big eye opening moment for me.  I understand now why the first pilot didn’t call me back.  Well, sort of.  He could have explained this to me as this Louisiana pilot did.

Pilot Louisiana had just signed up for the PNP experience.  He had transported one dog prior to mine, and it wasn’t a wonderful experience.  The dog was a pointer type dog with a lot of energy.  Evidently, he jumped all over the cockpit during the flight and shed everywhere.  The shedding part was taking care of with a vacuum, but the first impression had been laid.  I wasn’t sure if Pilot LA was going to take the assignment or not, but he dug in and said yes.  Was I celebrating!

That’s when I contacted the shelter.  The woman who worked there was machine like.  Her answers were cold and there was no leeway with her.  I told her what I was working on and she told me that if another approved rescue walked into the shelter before we did, they would get the dog.  Wasn’t that something?  I could do all this work and end up not getting the dog at the end of the sentence.  On the other side of the coin, no one else could be working on the dog, and that would be bad.  I put the possibility of losing Meaux aside, and called up the president of the rescue group I worked with and asked permission to fax her 501(c)3 to the woman at the shelter to get the ball rolling.  She agreed.

I went back into the PNP website and looked for pilots who may be able to help with the rest of the trip.  I emailed several and by evening, one of them wrote me back and said he could help with leg #2 and he would find another pilot to get Meaux down to South Florida from North Florida where he could fly her to.  I then wrote to everyone and said something like, “OmG!  This can work!”  I couldn’t believe how easy it was going to be.

Then I got an email from the shelter woman along with an application for rescue approval, which was longer than the 3-page application we have for adopters.  Mother of God!  Instead of thinking about it, I just opened it up and answered everything I could.  I also called the Pres and asked her to review it and fill in the blanks I couldn’t.  This was nearing midnight, but we got it done and sent the entire package through email to the shelter lady.

As the process with the shelter lady moved along, she warmed up to me and I felt it less of a threat that some other rescue would walk into claim Meaux at the last minute.  Just for kicks and to make myself calmer (or not) I went back onto Facebook to see if any other rescue had commented on getting Meaux.  There was one.  But the comment was comical.  “If someone can get her to us in GA, we will take her.”  I’m just saying, therein lies a big lack of get up and go, but if the “someone fairy” worked for her, I would have been sure to make note.

There was one snaffu with my cell phone that night.  The battery died and would not charge.  The silver lining was that I’d recently bought a spare battery and though I couldn’t talk to anyone until the next morning, I had that battery and was able to charge it up over night.

Friday, January 28 – This was the first day of a 2-day agility trial I had been looking forward to for weeks.  The thing is that the prior two agility trials I had entered were disrupted.  I was entering dogs and not showing.  That was not good for the piggy bank or my moral.  Two trials prior, I had cut Leissl’s toe nails too short on some stupid idea I had to trim them the morning of the trial when I woke up and couldn’t see too well.  I couldn’t stop the bleeding of one nail.  That put Leissl out.  The trial after that, I had bronchitis.  So I really wanted to show Leissl on this day because I took off from work and was tired of not getting to show.

I had asked Pilot LA the night before if he would pick Meaux up, pay $5 for her vaccines and keep her till the next morning when he would meet the next pilot.  I was thrilled to get an email that he would do all that.  I had emailed the shelter to tell her I would be out of commission on e-mail as of 11 a.m., and was there any news on my application?  We wanted Pilot LA to pick up Meaux before 3 pm on Friday as the shelter opened too late on Saturday for the flights to take place.  Low and behold, we were approved, and everything went entirely smooth.  Pick up was great and Pilot LA even gave Meaux a bath.  I was so thankful!  He said she was very cooperative.

I left for the agility trial knowing everything was happening and I was thrilled.  I was so thrilled, as a matter of fact, I had a stomach ache.  When I got to the trial, it was windy and cold.  Luckily I had my heavy coat with me, and had packed Leissl’s warm crate with an extra blanket.  The thing is, I was really starting to feel bad.  I sat in my chair away from the crowd till it was our turn to walk the course.  I took Leissl out and ran the JWW course with her.  It was nearly perfect.   Except for the last jump.  She knocked the bar over.  I’m sure I must have qued her to do that somehow.  All I know was I was feeling hot on the inside, and was so cold on the outside that I had a baseball cap on and a knit cap on over that.  Here is our run.

I wanted to go home then, but had volunteered to do gate stewarding for the next class, Open JWW.  That dragged on and on.  The judge had lunch after she set the course.  Then the timer kept breaking during the course, and I was getting sicker and sicker.   By the time the last three dogs were in place to go in the ring, I left.  I told the volunteer coordinator I would not be back on Saturday.  I got a free lunch ticket which I used to get a Coke and I bought a tunnel and shoot combo from a vendor I’d been waiting to see for a year.  Then I packed up and left.  I was home and in bed by 4 pm.  I had fever and chills and my stomach was a mess.  By the time I said I wanted to die 1,000 times, I started feeling better.

One note.  Whenever I get sick, I have a dog that insists on doing everything she can to make me sicker.  This time was no exception.  I heard her throwing up and I pulled myself out of bed to find she’d puked everywhere she could.  The futon sheets were a mess.  Her crate blankets and another crate’s blankets were a mess.  The floor was a mess – thank goodness for tile.  And she puked on a big throw rug.  The bottom line is gross.  She eats poop, and sometimes, this doesn’t agree with her.  (I know.)  Especially when she combines it with a pine cone.  It was disgusting especially the way I was feeling.  But somehow I cleaned it up and lived though I was loudly declaring I wanted to strangle the dog before I died throughout this whole ordeal.

Saturday, January 29 – I found that Meaux had made it to the pilot in Mississippi, and gave Pilot LA a good second impression.  She was a good traveler and he also had taken his wife with him to help out.  He really went a long way to help Meaux, and I was so happy for his help.  I will be forever grateful.

Sunday, January 30 – Pilot LA sent a picture of Meaux in the plane.  It’s so cute!  Pilot Mississippi was still looking for a pilot to help out on the trip down.

Now that Meaux was in Mississippi, there was no third pilot to take her to me.  I emailed Pilot MS and told him I thought I’d gotten the flu, so if it took a couple days, that’s fine.  Actually, I was hoping it would be a couple days because I had no idea how I’d drive to pick her up if I felt that bad on Saturday.

Monday, January 31 –  Pilot MS found a pilot to help out with the transport to South Florida for tomorrow.  I was feeling much better.  I think it was a 48-hour bug of some sort.  Or food poisoning.  Pilot MS also described Meaux a little more for me.  I couldn’t tell if she had a tail or not, and he said she didn’t.  She has a stump.  Also, he said she was a smart dog and sweet. and with a little attention, will train well.  He also mentioned he would keep her if he didn’t have a house full already.  Probably that made me a little nervous.  🙂

Tuesday, February 1 – The weather took a turn for the worse in Mississippi.  There was rain and ice storms and tornado warnings, so the flight for today was canceled.  I got an email from the 3rd pilot who said he would be transporting 9 dogs total.  Eight were puppies and Meaux.  The next possible day to do that was Thursday.  The puppy trip was still a go and they were delivered, but I found this out later.

Wednesday, February 2 – Pilot MS told me not to waste a day off work Thursday.  The forecast was looking bad –  70% chance for rain and 90% on Friday. He also mentioned he was getting more and more attached to Meaux.  If she stayed with him much longer, she would be hard for him to part with.  I was feeling more nervous about that.  I’d been a foster before, and knew that feeling.  He would check with the pilot in south Florida to see about his schedule for the weekend.

Thursday, February 3 –  Pilot MS said Pilot SoFL was going to be flying to a Super Bowl party in Carolina, and could pick Meaux up on the way back on Monday.  Super Bowl?  Was it that time already?

Friday, February 4 – Pilot MS wrote me about a cough that Meaux had.  He took her to the vet where he diagnosed her with kennel cough.  He told me Meaux would therefore not be coming on Monday.  At this point, I can say I was having some feelings that were unpleasant.  I have a hard time when everything is out of my control.  I know the old saying, the only thing you can control is how you react to a situation.  But my human feelings were kicking in.  I wrote back and told Pilot MS that I was very used to dealing with kennel cough and he could still send Meaux on Monday.

Saturday, February 5 – Pilot MS said that Pilot SoFla decided to drive to Carolina instead of fly due to bad weather.  He would pick up Meaux still on Monday on the drive back.  Pilot MS had no way to get Meaux to him on the drive back though.  Pilot SoFla, at that point, flicked us good-bye.  He’d lost patience with us.  Back to the drawing board.

It had been a week so far.  My dog was stranded in Mississippi with a very nice man who was growing attached to her day by day.  I was getting more and more worried.

Sunday, February 6 – I thought I would try to get through to Pilot SoFla.  That was a mistake.  If you’re flicked off once, you’re flicked off twice.  And then you don’t get any answer.  I was told he gave us a lot of chances, and good luck.  I guess Pilot SoFla doesn’t realize Mother Nature was the one who influenced our chances.  Oh well.  I went back to the PNP website and found another pilot who had flown north for a Super Bowl wing ding.  He was coming back on Monday too!  I emailed him through PNP, called him, too.  No answer, so left a message.  This man called me back within 30 minutes.  He was super nice, especially under the circumstances.  His parent had gone to the hospital due to a serious health issue.  So this pilot was not coming back until later in the week, and he wouldn’t have a space for a dog because he would be bringing his father back to Florida.  He was so very nice.  I still keep him and his father in my prayers.

Monday, February 7 – <sigh>  I spent the day on the PNP website going through all the posts and looking for any pilot who may travel our way.  I emailed a lot of them.  By day’s end, I got one answer of no and one that said he just did a transport on that route.  I missed it!  He also asked if Meaux were up for adoption.  She sure has charisma!  I told him no, but thanks for the email.  At this point, I didn’t know how to use the website as well as I do now. Since then, I found a map that had all pilots in Florida listed and their location, with a click of a link, I’d go right to their page where I could email them.  That, I found out, from someone who posted about a group who did ground transport.  That’s when the light bulb went on to change transportation venues.

Tuesday, February 8 – I went on a website that’s about ground tranpsort shipping.  It’s similar to the idea of ebay where people bid on your shipping needs.  I posted Meaux’s need, and got two replies.  One seemed legitimate.  They wanted $130 which was low.  I think that is because we are a rescue, but still wonder if that would be enough for them to do a good job.  The people had a high rating mostly.  There was a second bid of $10.  That was absurd, and the person who posted that was promptly removed from the site.  He had no previous ratings, so I am suspicious he had been kicked off before and was trying again.  Nevertheless, Pilot MS convinced me to hang in there with PNP, so I did.

Wednesday, February 9 – Pilot MS said there were 3 puppies also needing a ride into Florida, and introduced me to another rescuer in Louisiana.  He also explained this wasn’t the usual course of things, but because of bad weather and the Super Bowl, it may have contributed to not having a route to Florida sooner.

Thursday, February 10 – I got a reply from one of the pilots I’d emailed that he could transport Meaux in a week.  But he also said he had a friend who was looking for a female Aussie and wanted to know more about Meaux as a potential for his friend.  I explained she was already promised to someone.  I found out later that he called the pilot who was fostering her and while setting up transportation for her for the following week, asked him if she were available and wanted to know her stats.  This was probably before he read my e-mail explaining she had been spoken for.  I also got an e-mail from the other rescuer that she had a pilot set up to take her puppies to mid Florida and Meaux could go, too.  But I would have to drive four hours to get her.  I was very thankful to later get an email from Pilot MS who told me he got another pilot who would fly Meaux from mid Florida to me.  This was planned for Saturday.  Hallelujia!

Friday, February 11 – Another pilot answered one of the many emails I’d sent out.  He said he could help with the transport on Monday.  I wrote him back to ask if we could keep that offer on hold until we were sure that Meaux would land on Saturday.  He was very nice and said yes.

Saturday, February 12 – It’s funny that this is the birthday of my rescue mentor.  She is the one whose 501(c)3 I work under and was the reason we could pull Meaux.  Today was Meaux’s transport day!  It didn’t go without a hitch, though.  I found out later that the first pilot who transported the 3 puppies had ice on his wings at 5 a.m.  Once the wings were de-iced, and the puppies loaded, he couldn’t get the plane started.  They had to jump him off.  I’m not sure what that means, but it worked.

Pilot MS took Meaux and the puppies to mid-Florida, then the last pilots brought Meaux to us.  She landed, an hour and a half late, but she landed.  I had gotten lost going to the airport.  I am always getting lost even though I study mapquests before I go.  This one was wrong, by the way.  That’s why I get lost a lot of the time, too.  It was very frustrating because I thought I knew where I was going.  I called the airport 3 times once I knew I was lost.  The first time, the man told me to go west and I should have gone east.  I called him back to tell him I thought he’d sent me in the wrong direction.  He agreed.  The third time I called him, I told him I was at the building, but couldn’t find the entrance.  He came out and got me.   The entrance was at the point where all these white signs with big red print stated RESTRICTED AREA.  Welcoming, it’s not.  I gave myself an hour for a 15-minute ride.  Glad I did.

I had been filming planes landing since 5:30.  The pilot and Meaux were supposed to land around 5:48, and that’s when they came in.  Here is Meaux’s landing and meeting!  (I am changing her name to Mimi; hence the Mimi-Meaux reference.)

I felt sorry for the pilots flying late, especially the ones who helped us particularly with Meaux.  They were having to fly in the dark.  I also was having sad feelings all day for Pilot MS.  I knew he had gotten attached to Meaux.  I’d gone through fostering before, and having to give up the dog is very hard.  Dog lovers can get attached to their fosters very fast.  I was so torn between my feelings and the sadness for Pilot MS.  His sorrow weighed heavier on my mind than the happiness for me.  So I started getting sick to my stomach again.  By now, I’m used to that.  But I’d gone so far, I wanted to meet Meaux and see what transpired from there.  This was a painful decision.  That’s all I can say.

Meaux finally made it from that shelter to Fort Doberdale.  And I’m pretty sure she’s a Border Collie and not an Aussie.  🙂  But that’s another post.    And here is a picture of her just getting off the plane with the Pilots from Florida.

I thank Pilot MS with everything I have for going the distance for our girl, Meaux.

3 Responses to “Meaux’s Journey Through Pilots And Paws”

  1. Foster Failure is a common condition. I’ve suffered more than a few cases.

    Mimi is beautfiul! I agree with the border collie genes!

    Thank goodness for you and the pilots that you worked with to bring Mimi to safety! I hope she is adjusting!

    Happy tails!
    Stumpy and her bean

  2. Kristine says:

    Okay, I am crying. What a story!!

    I can’t say anything else because I am too happy for your and sweet Mimi-Meaux.

  3. Kristine says:

    I seriously can’t stop crying. That video was just too beautiful. The kindness of all the people who worked so hard…

    I am going to bed now.