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Pilots N Paws

Seeking Bingo . . . . A Holiday Story

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Bingo was a lovable and precious terrier who was on the manifest for a Pilots N Paws transport mission from New Iberia, LA, to Pearland Regional Airport back last May. Like a lot of endangered rescue dogs that I had flown from Louisiana previously (and since), she was picked up by volunteer ground transport and delivered to The Humane Society of Brazoria County (BCHS), a non-profit, no-kill shelter south of Houston. I develop connections to and strong feelings for every dog I fly, but some just seem to come to occupy a special place in my heart. Bingo was one of those. A day after the flight, I donated a couple of hundred dollars to BHCS for her care, and inquired in an email if I could visit her outside the shelter and if I could be informed about her status (I did write “outside the shelter”; it’s a hypocritical denial thing, I know, but shelter visits are so painful that I do my best to avoid them). I never heard anything back. In the weeks to come, I often thought of the little girl. After a few months went by, I got a call from Carolyn Harris, the rescuer/foster/rescue and transport coordinator in New Iberia who had gotten Bingo pulled from a Louisiana high-kill shelter; the BCHS founder and director had called her with word that Bingo had been adopted. The news made me ecstatic. In early November, BCHS suddenly closed. Volunteer rescuers who flocked to the shelter to help discovered a tragedy: kennels were overcrowded, dogs were emaciated, some had died of distemper and other unvaccinated dogs were exposed, and previously heartworm-free dogs had contracted the infection because they weren’t medicated with the preventative. Vets were putting down puppies and dogs at the “no-kill” shelter, and it seemed as if the authorities would step in any day for a mass euthanasia. Rescue groups and volunteer fosters pulled as many dogs as they could. Then came word that the intake and adoption records were in complete disarray: many “adoptions” could not be confirmed and the well being of many other dogs could not be determined. Carolyn received a tip that Bingo might still have been in the shelter when it was closed. We were both frantic to find out what had happened to her. I was greatly disturbed and felt betrayed; when I fly rescues, I take it on faith and trust that I am flying my innocent and deserving dogs to better futures and brighter lives (fosters, no-kill rescues and shelters and adopters) and, soon or eventually, loving homes. It didn’t help that the holiday season has, for years, been especially melancholy for me. It coincides with the birthdays or anniversaries of the deaths of my sister, my mom and my dad. Finally, Carolyn got word that a dog that MIGHT have been Bingo had been pulled from BCHS by Mutts & Meows, a foster-based Houston rescue group. She was undernourished, had never been spayed, and was in deplorable condition, but was in a foster’s care and was being cared for and tended to. Last week, Carolyn and I were notified that the foster was taking the dog-who-might-be-Bingo to an adoption event. I promised Carolyn and myself that I would attend to confirm that Bingo was still alive. So, yesterday, my birthday (normally an especially sad day for me because of my losses), I made the 50-mile drive from the southeast side of Houston to the Petsmart in Katy, TX, to the west, the whole time dreading disappointment: that it would turn out NOT to be Bingo. I arrived early, a little before noon, and waited near the adoption area. Then, a woman appeared with a terrier on a leash. I recognized the girl immediately and she remembered me. It was Bingo! I teared up, born of relief and delight that she was safe. I thought about taking her home, but sadly and immediately dismissed the idea. I was already spread thin with five rescue dogs of my own, and, after her six-month ordeal, Bingo deserved undivided love and attention. The Mutts & Meows foster, Cathy Linch, assured me that Bingo would receive care and attention until she was adopted and found a forever home. Cathy promised to stay in touch with any news, so I made the drive home, comforted, but, somehow, still forlorn. About a quarter to four, my cell rang. It was Cathy. Bingo had been adopted, was now named Jitterbug, and was heading to her new home. I bawled again, this time out of joy. For some reason, I was reminded of the closing line in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row”: “Once more, the world was spinning in greased grooves.” This was the happiest birthday I had ever had, or, likely, ever would have. Even better (I just have to reference the great Jean Shepherd this time of year) than the birthday I received my Daisy BB rifle. For the first time, I noticed the sky was clear and blue, seemingly without end, full of hope and promise.

Bingo on Dec 15, 2013

Bingo on Dec 15, 2013

Bingo on Dec. 15 2013

Bingo on Dec. 15 2013

Bingo on Dec. 15, 2013

Bingo on Dec. 15, 2013

Bingo, after May 2013 rescue flight

Bingo, after May 2013 rescue flight

17 thoughts on “Seeking Bingo . . . . A Holiday Story”

  1. sandy copley says:

    Made me cry. I wish you had been able 2 keep
    her. Hope you can go see her..

  2. Melanie Rizzo says:

    I cry for you now, and Bingo, cries of joy this time; cries for the pain and suffering you & Bingo went through but it’s over now, only healing now. God is good!!
    Melanie Rizzo (waiting to see my Bodee again)

  3. Rita Chesterton says:

    I hope you continue to check up on Bingo/Jitterbug. Ya never know.

  4. Valerie Thomassie says:

    after the last couple of dogs i transported to Carolyn in Lafayette she told me a few things about a couple of the dogs i transported from Jeff. Parish Animal Shelter. she told me one was put down for supposedly biting someone, (Carolyn had that dog at her house for a while and it exhibited no aggression, and later found out the person it supposedly bit was terminated for not doing her job) i could tell Carolyn was upset about it and then she told me one was put to sleep for distemper. i told her that if it came to her with distemper from a local shelter, the shelter should have been notified and the transporters should have been notified. from reading you message it must have gotten it from Brazoria. there were a few more dogs that were slated for Brazoria but i would have told Carolyn that i wouldn’t do the transport for her if they were going to Brazoria. i sent the message Shirley had about the shelter closing to Carolyn and she was told that they would still honor the agreement to take them but i’m glad they were adopted. glad you little buddy made it out alive but so sad that another rescue went down the drain.

  5. Patti Elsasser says:

    The most beautiful bittersweet real life story I have heard in too long of a while. Bless you, and all the other pilots and rescuers who really do care!

  6. Karen says:

    …tears reading this. xoxo

  7. Sandra says:

    Thank you for all the work you have done transporting dogs in need.

  8. Ann Llamas says:

    These wonderful pilots, who fly these little souls to freedom, have my total admiration to start with. For one to be so dedicated to go to such lengths to follow-up on one little dog, brought tears to my eyes.

    Bless you, for your goodness, and your caring heart!

  9. Susan Deets says:

    This really touched my heart so of course I cried. We have 21 dogs that were all rescued. They’re all fine and thriving. Your story show strength of your character. P.S. I liked her name of Bingo better than her new name. Thank you for all you do. Merry Christmas.

  10. J. Keith Decker says:

    What a beautiful story! This is what we all try to do, but you put your heart into wonderful words for all of us to enjoy. Merry Christmas and God Bless. Keith

  11. cary petry says:

    Beautiful story that touches my heart deeply for the dogs and for persons like you and the others that helped save this little dogs life. I am glad that others besides me cry with sadness about the tragedy and cry with happiness about the wonderful exceptions.

  12. carolegill says:

    this is beautiful. What wonderful work you do! Merry Christmas and thank you!

  13. Dale Govus says:

    What a wonderful ending…or should I say, beginning! thank s so much for caring~~

  14. Tree Ethington says:

    I am so very glad you saved this little dog. I hope that you meet someone or something that makes your future Christmas just as great as the moment you saw that it was indeed the little dog you saved.

  15. Allyson White says:

    Please do not give up on these pups that you “fly” to a “new Hope”. Bingo had a rough 6 months but she would have died if you had not stepped in. For 6 months she did have “hope” and most important “she was remembered” and cared by you and others. Thank you for all you do.

  16. Priscila Wille says:

    So happy and relieved at Bingo’s story. But,very ,very upset over that disaster.

  17. patti bell says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this sweet story with us. Merry Christmas!

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