Monday, March 21, 2011

Pilots N Paws Rescue Flight

First let me say that my sister married someone I can honestly describe as a really "good guy."  Someone she can share her interest in charities with and more.  His name is Mike.  He's an accomplished engineer and pilot with several cool hobbies including motorcycling and auto
restoration.  Needless to say, sharing similar interests, we get along well.  This is a good thing if you're going to be in a small plane together with 17 dogs for 12 hours.

Last week, I had an opportunity to tag along on a rescue mission with Mike.  We flew down to Lawrenceville, a WWII airfield in southern Illinois to pick up 17 dogs that had been flown there by an equally altruistic Woman by the name of Rhonda Miles. Click here to learn more about Rhonda: 

Rhonda flew from Chattanooga, TN to Savannah, GA to retrieve these dogs.  Then, when weather prevented the trip north, she found housing for them until the trip could be completed.  The Savannah shelter had told her that if these dogs were not picked up, they would be euthanized.  But not to worry, she was told, they would have a "new batch" within a week.

Break for a Public Announcement:  Please spay or neuter your pets.  Puppies are cute but there are too many and not enough homes as these photos will attest.

Our destination was Happily Ever After based in Green Bay, WI.             

This no kill shelter has a great story in itself. Amanda founded this organization after attending college and visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab,  Utah.
She started working out of her grandparent's barn and continues to build a terrific legacy.

These 17 dogs bring Mikes shuttling total to 52 animals.  As a point of reference, Mike has only been doing this for a year.  And, Mike has shuttled almost exclusively between the Savannah shelter and Happily Ever After.  Doesn't that make you stop and think how many other shelters there are and the staggering number of animals that don't get a second chance?

If you know a pilot or even someone with a car that can transport a single animal or 17 in crates as we did please let them know the need exists.  And believe me, a small private plane has less room than most sedans would afford.  Even if it's for just a few miles as part of a relay or during a trip that you'd be taking anyway, PLEASE contact Pilots N Paws or your local shelter or any rescue group that interests you.  It doesn't take a lot of time, a fancy building or a pile of money to make a big difference to these animals.

Working with the Wisconsin Saint Bernard rescue we have driven to Chicago to pick up a dog from another transporter as part of a relay.  We fostered when we could and have adopted three fantastic Saint Bernards over 11 years.  However, we haven't come close to repaying the kindness shown by Jan, the tireless advocate of this organization . 

What I'm trying to say is that the effort you put in is small compared to what you receive in return.  Please take some time to visit these links and do what you can through volunteering, contributions of needed supplies or monetary donations.  

And, if you are able to share your life and your home with a companion, please consider adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue rather than from a breeder or breeding your own pet.  Almost every breed imaginable has a rescue group that picks up the pieces of those left behind.  And non-specific breeds (mutts) can be just as rewarding and often have better lifetime health than heavily concentrated breeds. 

Puppies and kittens to adults.  All have a story.  You can be their happy ending.

Aluminitus Runs Rampant In Wisconsin!

I can hear it now. "What did you do?!?"  or "What do you think you're going to do with that?!?"  or "You haven't even finished the first one yet!"

And, these comments would be justified...especially since the person - (name withheld for peaceful home life purposes) - has not read anyone else's blog.  If they had, they'd see this is an addiction.  Or at the very least, an affliction.  And the chances of relapse are great, indeed.  Plus, anyone who knows me knows I cannot let anything suffer. I'd rather drag it home and give it a better place to live.

So is the case with my newest "adoption."  A '70's something Safari. Unmolested but well used.  Worn but not worn out. In need of TLC but previously unmolested and in "original" condition. 

Gotta love fate. While riding a snowmobile trail I kept passing this old girl. I finally worked up the courage to stop in and speak to the property owner. He didn't own the trailer and directed me to the house down the street who did. No answer.

Home to the computer I went. I did a quick reverse look-up of the potential addresses and confirmed the resident names with the county tax record website.  After 3 calls I managed to get the owner...who had just returned home.

His answer:  "Why yes, I am looking to get rid of that piece of junk. We used to travel in it but now it's sat for several years. It was so heavy and unruly behind my Dodge Ram Pickup that I didn't like to tow it far. Now I don't have a big truck, so I can't use it.  Was going to tear it apart for scrap, but if you want it, take it."

Suffice to say I just have to wait for the snow to melt to tow it home...less than 3 miles. 

The history of this Safari is cloudy.  Supposedly, some guy driving through Wisconsin many years ago asked a farmer if he could leave this trailer on his property and pick it up on his way back through.  The guy never came back, believe it or not.  After some time, the farmer offered it to his neighbor, the current owner's uncle.  He applied for a replacement title and enjoyed camping in it for years.  About 10 years ago he sold it to his nephew, the current owner. 

And I didn't mention the best part.  After speaking with the owner he figured out that as teen-agers we worked together Lifeguarding in Milwaukee.  We've had some good talks reminiscing the last two days.  I find it funny that I've been driving past his house for the last 5 years, here in the middle of no-where Wisconsin, and never would have known it if I hadn't spotted an old airstream sitting in a field along a snowmobile trail, less than 3 miles from home. 

What a lucky find. 

Had I not been snowmobiling, for the first time since moving here, I would never have known it existed. And, if that snowmobile wasn't a Vintage (slow) '79 John Deere, I probably would have been moving too fast to notice!  In a few months this Safari may have been melted down in a 6-pack of Miller Lite.

Don't ask me where I'll go with it from here. Just know she's safe and will have a good home as long as I do.

Happy Spring! 

UPDATE: 3-25-2011:  Received 2" of ice, then 4"-6" of heavy wet snow on top on 23rd-24th. This has postponed my retrieval.  What you can't see in the photos is a huge snowbank at the end of the neighbors drive needed to access this property.  C'mon Sun!  Melt me a path.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Holy Cow, What a Winter!

I'll admit it. I LOVE WINTER.

1.  No bugs.
2.  No bugs.
3.  No bugs.
4.  Walking dogs is fun...because there are no bugs...especially ticks!
5.  Snowmobiling is awesome, especially if you ride vintage.

Now the disclaimers.
1.  Must have plenty of snow.
2.  Must have more sunny days than cloudy.
3.  Must have warm fire to keep out the cold.

That's it. And since these items were met with abundance, I've been a happy hibernator.

Here are some updates from the winter.

Some of  our Wild Turkey Visitors.
We have 10-20 birds per group.
Several Groups per Day.

Two of our Guinea Hens taking a sun bath.

Hank (Left) Molly (Right) & Me

Wendy and Molly

'79 John Deere resurected and out on the trail
"Anyone can ride a new machine...
riding an old machine takes tools, skills and
the ability to walk long distances...
if the tools and skills don't work out."

'78 Airens runs like a champ!