I had not planned on getting a new foster dog. Our house is too small, too much under construction, and we already have three needy dogs.
We’re still getting settled here in Virginia, figuring out what’s what and where, and have no actual yard, so another dog means another four or five walks around the block a day (this would probably be good for me after a two-week vacation in Florida!). Plus, I’m too busy with Waldo and am writing to a deadline for a new book.
But then I saw the sweet face of a little dog in Texas who was scheduled to be ‘euthanized.’ The shelter was full and she’d been there too long with no interest.
X-Port Paws, a remarkable rescue created by two very determined, resourceful, and passionate women, wanted to save this dog but they were out of foster homes and money and couldn’t find a rescue willing to go all the way to southern Texas to save one little dog.
Last Wednesday, I shared their post on Waldo:
Surely, some rescue connection would come forward. For heaven’s sake, it wasn’t like I was asking anyone to rescue a nine-year-old heartworm positive 70-pound pit bull—we were talking about a one-year-old, doe-eyed, 30 pound, shepherd mix. A dog so terrified about her circumstances that she peed when anyone touched her (which wasn’t often as this is a shelter that sprays out their kennels with the dogs in them and does not handle the dogs at all).
On Wednesday night I checked in with Michelle at X-Port Paws –Anyone speak up for that little dog?
Nope. Lots of shares, no commitment.
And that’s when I turned to Nick and said, “What if….”
You see, most shelters ‘euthanize’ on Thursdays or Fridays because the weekends are when more dogs always arrive, plus many don’t have a full staff on weekends (some don’t have any staff on weekends). Time was up for this little princess.
So I texted Michelle and asked, “What if I paid her vetting and transport costs and fostered her? Could you save her?”
She said she’d try, but she wasn’t even sure if the dog was still alive.
Thursday morning I got a message, “We tagged her.” Which in rescue-speak means that X-Port Paws committed to taking the dog.
After that Michelle got to work. Finding a local rescue person to physically pull the dog, a local foster to take her in and get her to the vet, and a transport company willing to bring the dog east. Did I mention that Michelle and Liz are in Florida?
From their laptops and phones they saved 422 dogs in 2021 and are on course to save even more this year. They raise the money, find the rescues, tag the dogs, make all the veterinary and transport arrangements and move dogs from south Texas where they will certainly die to places as far away as Maine.
The name is X-Port Paws. Not just because they export dogs—because they save the dogs who have an X on their kennel. The dogs who will die if no one steps up.
Michelle and Liz aren’t shelter professionals or fundraising gurus. They don’t have a shelter or kennel or farm or transport van or large rescue organization or unlimited resources. They are two women who decided that they would save dogs.
And then they did it.
While traveling for Waldo, Nancy and I got to witness their work firsthand. We stayed with Michelle for part of our week, and watched her working her cellphone (sometimes using google translate to communicate with rescuers near the Mexican border who didn’t speak English). She lined up transports, paid vet bills, begged rescues all over the country to take dogs. When we woke up Michelle was already on the phone. When we came back from visiting shelters, Michelle was on the phone. When we went to bed, Michelle was still on the phone.
Michelle is calm and methodical, a retired dentist who likely works more hours now (for nothing) than she worked in her professional life. That outer calm is remarkable when you realize just how many mental balls Michelle is always juggling. Her resourcefulness astounds me, as does the size of her heart. That woman will find a way to rescue anything, no matter how much it taxes her mind, her life, or her soul.
Later in the week, we went with Liz, the other half of the team, to meet one of their transports from TX that landed in FL at a big rescue (Furry Friends).
We helped unload and settle the dogs and puppies in the holding facility before scooping up one remaining little dog with no rescue commitment.
With our stowaway in tow, we headed to Palm Beach to grab dinner. Instead of eating fast food in the car, Liz talked our way into a busy, packed, tableclothed restaurant, and I sat with Honey, a chunky, depressed, elderly, HW+ chihuahua on my lap because Liz said there was no way we were leaving the sweet, sad dog in the car. Honey was added to the transport last minute when her owner died. Knowing her fate if she was sent to the shelter, Liz and Michelle said bring her to us. They found a local foster and were still working out the plan to get Honey treated for Heartworm and then adopted or off to a rescue. (Update: Honey has started HW treatment and also been treated for an undiagnosed thyroid condition which explained her weight, thin coat, and lack of energy.)
Liz operates on a much faster rpm than the rest of us. She’s a tennis professional who spends her days teaching the ladies how to serve, and every other moment of her days saving dogs. She has a generous heart and a razor-sharp BS detector. We listened to her rattle away in Spanish on her phone, all the while rolling her eyes in frustration when the rescuing didn’t happen at the speed with which she functions. One of my favorite things about Liz is that she is never afraid to name the elephant in the room, the obstacle in the way, or the real issue below all the excuses. She simply lays it out.
But back to the little yellow dog in Texas. When a local rescuer pulled her out of the shelter, she smothered her (or her knees as she is pretty little) in kisses. Her tail goes nonstop like a metronome.
She’s doing well in her foster home, getting along great with people and other dogs.
She’s already been to the vet for her health certificate, vaccines, and testing. Michelle has found a transport for her and hopefully she’ll be in Woodstock sometime early next week.
I’ll fill you all in on the events as they happen. Once she’s here, I’ll have her spayed at our local clinic and then she’ll be looking for a forever family.
Michelle asked me to give the little dog a name and the first word that came to me was Serendipity. Partly because it’s one of my favorite words, but also because saving her life feels very serendipitous. I had been staying off Facebook while on vacation in Florida. I still don’t even know why I logged on last Wednesday morning.
Maybe it was time I got off the bench and back to rescuing. Enough of the excuses.
Or maybe this little dog was never meant to die in a shelter. Maybe she has a family out here somewhere just waiting for her.
I’ll be sharing Dipity’s journey here and on the Another Good Dog Facebook page. Follow along and help us find her a family!
Without XPort Paws, Dipity would surely have died last week. If you’d like to contribute to the incredible life-saving work of X-Port Paws, click here. It costs them between $400-$500 to save each dog (with the price of gasoline, I expect that will go up). To see more of their amazing rescues, visit them on Facebook.
Until Each One Has a Home,
For information on me, my writing, and books, visit CaraWrites.com.
If you’d like regular updates of all our foster dogs past and present, plus occasional dog care/training tips, and occasional foster cat updates (!) be sure to join the Facebook group, Another Good Dog.
And if you’d like to know where all these dogs come from and how you can help solve the crisis of too many unwanted dogs in our shelters, visit WhoWillLetTheDogsOut.org and subscribe to our blog where we share stories of our travels to shelters, rescues, and dog pounds.
If you can’t get enough foster dog stories, check out my book: Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Or its follow up that takes you to the shelters in the south One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues.
I love to hear from readers and dog-hearted people! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of the pictures on my blog are taken by photographer Nancy Slattery. If you’d like to connect with Nancy to take gorgeous pictures of your pup (or your family), contact: email@example.com.