On the road from Turkey – The team:
- Bill Holcomb (veterinarian...and all around nice guy)
- Chris Cooper (aka: the meteoroligist)
- Melissa Shipley (all around dog lover with the tunes)
- Yvette Woodworth (the humorist- assigned to keep things fun)
- Kevin Shipley (the snacker and pit stop team leader)
Los Angeles GRRR ground team, in addition to the transport team:
- Brian Kohout (assigned to wear out 10 month old Tellie and snack man)
- Karen Martens (the smuggler- packed her suit case with dog pads, towels, wipes, dog food (not sure what TSA must have thought))
For those following the story of GRRR rescuing abandoned purebred Golden Retrievers from Istanbul, Turkey (aka: turkey dogs), I thought we would let you know they are safe and sound at GRRR. View the Operation Turkey Dog Valentines Trip Home Photo Gallery.
The journey and all the MANY moving parts have been worked on, literally, daily for 2 ½ months. Finally it was time. After a last minute 24 hour delay, the dogs were arriving Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles International airport, in a specially equipped animal transport 747.
We, with the help of Linda Fox/Care transport, rented a high top animal transport vehicle along with another vehicle to follow along. Flash forward as GRRR volunteers flew into LA along with a couple GRRR volunteers already there, we all arrived at the airport cargo area. The SoCal GR rescue and GRRR were waiting for our (total) 20 dogs to arrive. 35 people waiting with nervous energy and a stomachs full of butterflies.
All of a sudden we looked up and saw that cargo plane landing, soon to be unloading it’s precious cargo into the holding warehouse. Our GRRR volunteer driver and travelling veterinarian, Bill Holcomb, was allowed to check on each dog following their arrival. At last, doggie passports and paperwork approved, we were allowed to begin the process of getting the dogs from their crates, feeding and watering them and (yuk) cleaning their travel crates.
An instant explosion of happiness, joy and hunger was released on American soil. Despite their terrible past, they remain loving, happy and all Golden Retriever. Tails wagging, snuggling with each touch, they were almost home. After the airport hoopla, it was time for the straight through, non-stop drive to GRRR. We got everyone loaded in their crates, except Colorado-Honey who was in the driver’s seat had decided to be part of the driving team. The lack of opposing thumbs made her driving imossible, so she got in her travel crate.
Yvette, Chris, Bill, Melissa and Kevin said goodbye to our ground team of Brian and Karen and hit the road. It didn’t take long before our plan went awry. We stopped for food in Barstow California, while Chris became our on board meteorologist. Unfortunately snow and chain laws had hit our original path through Vail pass. Thanks to our meteorologist we made the decision to go south through Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM and up I-25.
At every stop people could hear Fraser announce to the world that we had arrived. All total, with food, water and dog walk stops, it was a 22 hour journey to GRRR where we were greeted by about 20 enthusiastic volunteers, sponsors and board members. Many sponsors were able to meet the dog they helped get to America. Others reveled in the joy these Goldens were experiencing.
Our new Colorado citizens were great travelers with not a single mess in their kennels. Driving at night and the hum of the transport vehicle made for sweet dreams. Of course Fraser was always the first one to announce our stops. A look in the eye, a wag of the tail and you knew he was about to announce our next arrival.
Estes had her crate behind the driver’s seat so whenever the passenger would look over their shoulder, Estes was looking at them through the side of her crate. Once you acknowledged her stare, you could hear her tail wagging against the side. Bill, in addition to being a great guy, was invaluable, as he was able to check on the dogs and help Windsor with his infection from a cyst removal.
Once at GRRR Windsor was dressed in a new turtle neck shirt. It covered his healing wound and was a stylish addition.
Given the very difficult life they all had, these Goldens were well loved by our Istanbul partners. They arrived safe, sound and very happy. They have their first ever bed, first ever toy and a few have even discovered a lawn for the first time, loving to roll and stretch out. They each have their own special personalities that has already begun to emerge.
Thank you to all who supported this truly remarkable experience. The financial support to help offset the expense was simply amazing. As I told a sponsor of three dogs, “it takes a lot to make me speechless”, but they really did it.
We have been working behind the scenes with our excellent logistics contact and believe we have a way to bring them through Denver next time. We would love to do this again. We help these sweet dogs and help some waiting, qualified adopters give a dog a forever home.
If you can give to Operation Turkey Dog, it will help rescue another 20 dogs for GRRR. www.coloradogives.org/operationturkeydog
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