In the fall of 2013 I was off on yet another road trip – one that will always be remembered in our pack’s travel lore. I was ready. I packed my greenies, favorite kibbles and my comfy pillow and that’s all I needed. Road trips have always been special for me as they are always interesting and seldom as expected; one never knows where the road will really lead. And often our two and four-legged pack-mates veer off the expected path to explore previously unknown and un-sniffed areas. Our travel pack included Miss Kitty, me, and our driver who I often call my man servant; an overweight and balding two-legged pack-mate. Although we expected this to be a long trip with a rigid schedule with little room for deviation, it turned out otherwise.
We departed San Francisco late in the afternoon after a busy day and headed northwest for Montana where we were going to bury my Grandma Barbara’s ashes in a quiet cemetery in Columbus. The trip was long overdue as Grandma Barbara had died several years earlier and our family was just now able to get together for the solemn and improvised ceremony of burying her remains. As we drove off to meet my great aunties and uncle in Billings – before heading to Columbus – I was thinking a lot about what lay ahead; the joy of meeting up with our dear relatives and the dedication of a final resting place for Grandma Barbara’s remains. I was thinking how great it will be for all of us to have a special place where we can go visit with Grandma Barbara. Columbus was a place where she spent many of her early years and it was a place that was very dear to her.
So, off we drove to meet in Montana. We settled in for the first night at a small motel in Elko, NV and we all had a hard time sleeping. As for me, I was so excited about being in a motel again with all those animal and people scents. Even before first light I woke up my man servant to go out for a potty and a walk – I was so excited about the adventure that lay before us. As we often do on road trips, we ate a hearty breakfast of an egg and sausage McMuffin – Miss Kitty ate her usual ocean mix cat food – and off we set off
eastbound Interstate 80. It was a relatively early morning departure from Elko, and it was a bright sunny day in September of 2013. Attendance to Miss Kitty’s travel necessities had prevented an earlier morning departure and as it turned out that was a good thing!
Heading east on I-80 we took in the views and listened to a local radio station playing my favorite classic country tunes. The sky was bright blue and the terrain was quite brown, as it always is at this time of year. About twenty miles out of Elko my man servant and I saw what appeared to be a medium sized white dog sitting on the Interstate highway only a few feet from where the eastbound cars were whizzing by. I thought to myself, this is a white animal of some sort sitting up in the roadway AND IT MIGHT GET RUN OVER! As we got closer we could see it was a dog and although it was sitting up, it was not moving. I immediately thought “what a smart dog to just sit there”. And PLEASE don’t step out into traffic! My man servant sensed my concern and after we passed the dog he pulled off onto the shoulder as soon as he could and began backing up to where the dog was sitting. When we got near the dog we noticed the dog was no longer sitting but was lying down on the highway. We were both afraid the dog had been hit by a car while we were backing up. Although I wanted to go to that white dog to see if it was injured, my man servant pack-mate asked me to stay in the car and protect Miss Kitty, who was quite concerned about all the commotion. As my man servant approached the dog, we could all see it was motionless. With my keen eyes I could see the white dog breathing and at one point watched his eyes roll back into its head. My heart sank. This poor little pup needed help and fast. Maybe it was already too late. Also realizing the urgency, my man servant hurried back to the car and grabbed a towel and quickly cleared the front seat. Miss Kitty and I were so anxious and worried about the poor white dog that we paced back and forth inside the car. My man servant hurried back to the dog and carefully wrapped the dog in the towel, lifted the dog, carried it to our car, and laid the motionless white dog on the front seat. The dog did not say anything but moaned a little. I was leaning over the seat trying to talk with the dog to find out what was wrong, but it was no use as the dog was out of it.
As we headed back to Elko, and hopefully to a veterinarian hospital, I continued to hover over the poor white dog trying to encourage it to hang on. The white dog began to stir just a little; I think it was trying to communicate with me. Although the poor brave dog tried to move and even sit up, it was just not happening. My man servant tried to reassure the white dog that everything would be all right – although none of us really thought they would be. Miss Kitty, inside her hut in the back seat, was a little anxious about this strange pup now lying in a ball on the passenger seat. Since it was a Sunday morning in a strange town my man servant and I decided we should head to the Sheriff’s Department or Police Department, which ever we found first. As luck would have it we first found the Elko County Sheriff’s Office and a wonderful Sheriff’s Deputy who gave us a speedy official escort across town to the Elko County Animal Shelter. Once there we met a very kind woman who quickly arranged for an examination of the white dog by the on-duty veterinarian at a local veterinarian clinic. So, we saddled up again (the white dog had been curled up in a ball on the passenger seat the whole time) and we were again had an official Sheriff’s Deputy escort to the veterinarian clinic. Once we arrived, my man servant and the Sheriff’s Deputy went in to talk with the receptionist/technician while I did my best to comfort the poor white dog. The sweet dog was trying so hard to move and communicate with me, and I was trying so hard to convince the dog, and myself, that this poor creature would be OK. The poor pup had hardly moved at all during the ride to Elko, he seemed to be severely injured.
The technician and my man servant came out with a gurney and they carefully laid the white dog on it. As they then wheeled the dog into the clinic, I was certain that this dog would not survive and the best that could happen for it was to be euthanized. I was also concerned that even if the pup survived it probably did not have a family that cared about it. It seemed so odd that the dog was sitting next to the highway in the first place and my thought at the time we found it was that it had fallen out of the back of a pickup truck on the highway and its owners had just driven away. When my man servant came back to the car and we began to drive away, it was apparent that he shared my concerns and my sadness about this poor white dog and its fate. We had to accept that the little white dog’s fate was out of our control. The clinic and the animal shelter would take care of her if they could and maybe the guardian would find her. We just couldn’t get over that little pup. She was on minds during the rest of our trip.
We drove along in silence for many, many miles, and then the country Western music finally came back on and Miss Kitty came out of her hut to reclaim her territory.
We finally arrived in Billings, Montana and met up with our relatives. The next day we went to Columbus to bury Grandma’s ashes. It was a grand day and I logged some great nap time among the grave markers and shady trees. I have attached a photo of me in that glorious cemetery.
After our great reunion and the burial of Grandma Barbara’s ashes, my pack headed back to San Francisco. When we neared Elko we contacted the Animal Shelter but we were not able to speak to a person about the fate of the poor white dog. My man servant left a message. We had been thinking about the white dog nearly every second of our journey, and our hearts were heavy as we waited to hear about its outcome. The next day, while at a rest stop near Truckee, CA we were contacted by the sweet lady at the Elko animal shelter who was returning our call and said they had found the dog’s owners and they were asking for our telephone number. We had bittersweet feelings about this information, as we were certain the dog had died and the owner wanted only to thank us for our efforts. My man servant timidly asked if the dog had survived and the sweet lady from the Elko Animal Shelter said “yes, the dog is back with her owners and pack mates and doing very well!” WE WERE ECSTATIC!! We were jumping and prancing around in the snow drifts outside of the rest stop. We were all overjoyed and cried buckets of tears. We thanked the kind lady and said sure; the owners could call us at any time. We immediately called our family and friends who were following the saga of the poor white dog and told them the wonderful news. Soon thereafter we received a call from Judy, one of the white dog’s guardians; it was such a joyous conversation!! We learned that Starr was one of three dogs belonging to a family that lived on the edge of Elko. When the dog went missing from their ranchette, they launched an extensive search and rescue effort with their friends, including an aerial search. Great efforts went into the search, but alas Starr was at this time probably on her way to the veterinarian in Elko. In a fortuitous twist, the vet that we delivered Starr to on that fateful day was her regular vet and it did not take long for him to call the family and let them know where Starr was. Crazy! The vet told the family that Starr was safe and although beaten up, with many lacerations and some damage to some of her internal organs, she would survive and was essentially OK.
We were all elated to know of this. To celebrate we turned into the first fast food diner we came across and gorged ourselves on brats and burgers for the pack (except not for Miss Kitty).
Later, back at our little San Francisco ranchette, we received further news from Judy, Starr’s guardian and owner. It was a joyous conversation about Starr and her fast healing and that she had joined her pack once again.
Later Judy wrote; “Starr is almost 100%. She has gone on several five mile runs this last week!” Her expression of thanks, brought more tears. “If you had not so graciously picked her up and taken care of her we would not have her today. She is strong, rowdy and ready to be the Alpha Female that she is over her 4 siblings!” The photos showed a very happy Starr, the Alpha Female, leading her pack mates Ruby, followed by Bodhi. Ruby came out of her depression once Starr returned, and the little family is back to the usual shenanigans. Judy also wrote; “When you lose a pet that is viewed as a child it is beyond comprehension of pain. Every night Starr sleeps between Trevor and me, with Ruby and Bodhi at my feet.”
They were all quite happy to say the least, and we will certainly take them up on the invitation to stop by on our next road trip to see the little shining Starr.
As I think back to the little road trip, I find more meaning and think how interesting it was that the main reason for the road trip was to find a final burial for my Grandma. Ironically, she was a guiding light, a person that mentored all around her about the meaning of all life, and caring for every creature, large and small. She, herself, rescued a variety of four-legged critters. I know she would have been ecstatic to know we veered off the trail; we made a light detour to rescue yet another little four-legged critter.
Thanks for the inspiration Grandma!!