The Saga of Saving Abigail
Some weeks ago, I got a call from Ashley Pugh, a Houston rescuer. Ashley had heard about a stray-hoarder in Conroe TX, north of Houston, who was threatening to abandon her dogs at Conroe’s high-kill shelter. The woman, apparently, had been taking in strays and had decided that she could no longer afford to feed them. Ashley had driven to Conroe, collected a Great Dane and a couple of Chihuahuas, and had transported them toward a foster in Boerne TX, outside of San Antonio.
There was the sweetest girl, Ashley said, that she had to leave behind. The Boerne foster, she said, had agreed to take her and she was wondering if I could fly her. We made tentative arrangements for Saturday, 5/17, but, the night before the flight, everything unraveled. There had been a miscommunication between Ashley and the foster, who had no more room. Ashley was exasperated and threw up her hands. The girl had nowhere to go, and her time was running out.
When I commit to a rescue mission, I commit to it. Sometimes, the weather forces a delay or postponement; sometimes, a postponement is necessary on a long cross-country transport because of a missing leg. Whatever it takes, I do what I can to honor the commitments I make. I felt that I had an obligation to this girl. And so it was that, on Wednesday, 5/21, I found myself before dawn in the parking lot of a Hooter’s in Spring TX, waiting on Abigail.
Poor Abi was skinny, flea-infested and had a bad ear infection and intestinal parasites. Despite all of that, she was the sweetest, most trusting and most affectionate girl. Abi hopped right into the back seat of my Yukon. We drove the 90 minutes back to my vet, Friendswood Animal Clinic, which had agreed to spay her, vaccinate her, and treat her at a generous rescue discount. Abi was a hit with the vet techs, one of who exclaimed, “So she’s a Hooters girl!”
With five rescue dogs of my own, I couldn’t keep Abi indefinitely, so I picked her up on Thursday, 5/22, and drove her to German Manzo, a big-hearted dog groomer/boarder, who had agreed to keep her until I could find a foster/adopter/rescue group. I broadcast some pleas. Jerry Dunham in Austin TX, possibly the hardest-working transport coordinator there is, had gotten Abi accepted by the Elmbrook Humane Society in Brookfield WI, based upon my photos and description of her demeanor. AND, David and Diane Newton, who fly for Pilots N Paws, were going to Wisconsin early Saturday, 5/24, and had room for Abi and some other dogs. I picked up Abi from German on Friday, drove her back home to Friendswood TX and crated her in the garage.
I thought about flying her on Saturday from Pearland Regional Airport, where N20223, my Cessna Cardinal is based, to Lone Star Executive in Conroe, where the Newtons were based, but quickly rejected the idea. Pearland Regional is south of Houston and Lone Star Exec is north of Houston; in between are Hobby and Bush Intercontinental airports, Houston’s two commercial fields. What would be a 20-minute flight direct becomes more like 45 minutes once vectored by ATC. Plus, I’d have the pre-flight check to do and would have to pull 223 out of the hangar. I decided that it would be less stressful for Abi if I drove her.
Turning in for the night and another pre-dawn drive, I heard Abi crying and whimpering. Cessna, my elderly Schnoodle, and I slept on a mat on the garage floor to keep her company. The next morning, I delivered Abi to the Newtons. She hopped right into the back of their Piper Saratoga. I whispered what I always whisper to my transport dogs: “Only special dogs get to fly.” Before I closed the door, Abi turned around, licked my face and put her paw on my arm. I bawled the entire long drive back home.
I have a strong connection to all of my rescues, but some just burrow deeper into my heart and soul. Abi was one of those. About 10 days later, Abi was adopted. She now has a bright future and the loving and caring home the sweet girl deserved. So: no flying this time, just a precious soul saved.
Story from Wade Roberts
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