How far would you go for a kiss? These days homeless dogs are traveling up to 1,000 miles in a wild attempt to save their lives. For Cricket, a Labrador mix from Louisiana, that first kiss came at the tender age of 4 months old, just as she was beginning to lose her puppy teeth.
Two weeks ago, Cricket was bundled into a cage with dozens of others in line for an early death at a zero-adoption facility in Louisiana. She came in with no fanfare, just an owner who dragged her in and walked away without a goodbye. There would be no happy ending to this story, had it not been for a few good Samaritans with a van and a vision.
“She just hugged my neck”
“I almost let her ride on my lap during transport,” said Ann Salzer, a volunteer for the charity Animal Rescue Front who took 17 dogs, including Cricket, away from their grim destiny earlier this month. “But having them loose in the vehicle always worries me for their safety, so I crated her in the back seat with the door open and loved on her instead. When I carried her into the veterinary office she just hugged my neck! She barked at the cat sitting behind the counter and the cat just ignored her…so funny. Tail wagging the whole way.”
I Missed Her Already and I’d Never Even Met Her
And with the immediate danger of the gas chamber put aside, the race was now on to find homes for Cricket and all the rest while costs to board them at a veterinary clinic mounted quickly. Calls were made to secure a receiving shelter in far away Cape Cod, and while most of those dogs would travel by truck, Cricket flew aboard Continental Airlines because she had already found a home….with me.
As Founder of the Harmony Fund International animal rescue charity, I see thousands of animals in crisis every month. Yet there was something about this little dog that gave me pause. I can’t quite explain it but when I looked at her photo, I was swept away. She felt familiar to me, like a long time friend, and I already missed her.
Teaching Her to Love
I started talking to my five-year-old daughter Sabrina about all the things we’d need to do to transition a puppy into our home. I said, we’ll need to teach her to go potty outside, to walk on a leash and not to chase our cats and bunny. But Sabrina knew I had it all wrong. ”That’s not right Mommy,” she said confidently. ”The first thing we need to teach her is to love.”
Those words ran deeper than she’d realized. After all, I suppose we would be the first to hold Cricket for more than a moment. The first to stroke her head as she fell asleep. The first to chase her as she wiggled across the living room floor. The first to bend down and give her a kiss. It was time now to bring her home.
The Plane Engine Lulls Them to Sleep
“You’d be surprised how unafraid they really are,” said Animal Rescue Front Founder Chris McLaughlin. ”The lull of the engine calms them right down. I have seen this time and again. She knows she is safe…once they leave the hell holes they were abandoned to they just seem to know. We’re blessed and something greater than us eases their fear once we have them in our arms.”
Chris is a rescue dynamo who began saving lives immediately after Hurricane Katrina and has since made it her mission to pull homeless dogs out of death row and to find them homes through shelters and foster homes in the New England area. Chris’ efforts have already saved a couple thousand dogs, and in her eyes, things are just getting started.
Part of a Global Rescue Squad to Save “Unreachable” Animals
When creating the Harmony Fund, it was my intention to raise funds to support projects like Animal Rescue Front. They became one of 16 rescue squads worldwide who fly with us under the banner of redefining the word ‘impossible’ for the animals in need. After all, a kennel full of dogs in a Louisiana animal control center which actually prohibits the public from adopting the animals is about as bleak as it gets. But as I write this, all the dogs are safe and we’re prepping to do it all over again in a couple weeks.
First Kiss Pups Waiting in Line Right Now
Because most of the dogs are heartworm positive, the cost of care is truly a burden. It seems that so few people are able to open their hearts in a tangible way these days, but there is no other way to keep this mission of love going. In fact, we’ve got another dozen dogs lined up right now, waiting for their first kiss too and we don’t intend to let them down.
If you’d like to support this blessed operation, please visit our website today. You are guaranteed goosebumps (the good kind) from the moment you arrive.