High Park Fire, 9, relocating dogs

posted in: Current Affairs, Dogs, Serendipity | 7

Our friends Kris and Earl Paige have eleven llamas, four livestock guardian dogs, and two cats (one still missing, and we are hoping she found a safe place during the fire: it's possible). Since their house and barn burned down, the Paiges need a place to live, but first the animals need to be settled.

The llamas have been in a first set of temporary digs (two locations, one for the males and one for the females). They are in the process of being moved to a second set of temporary, but more long-term, housing, since it's obvious now that rebuilding will have to occur before they can go home.

Two dogs, Bear and Lady, have been with us, while the other two, Hoss and Heather (siblings), have been boarded at a vet clinic. Just before July 4, Bear was moved over with Hoss and Heather because, while he will protect his llamas from mountain lions, coyotes, and bears, he's afraid of thunder, lightning, and other things that go boom. We have been having daily bouts of thunder and lightning (without much rain), and even with a fireworks ban, we didn't trust folks not to explode things around here. (For the most part, they haven't. But a small handful of people did ignore the prohibition.) 

Hoss, Heather, and Bear now need to be transported to North Carolina to be cared for and to have work to do while demolition and reconstruction happen on the home front. They will be with the friend of the Paiges who introduced them to livestock-dog rescue. The trick is getting the dogs there.

Obviously, with the heat and distance involved the transport vehicle will need to be air-conditioned in the cargo area as well as the passenger area. Unfortunately, it appears that auto rental agencies don't do one-way rentals on cargo vans. What's needed is probably an air-conditioned panel van. The driver who is available and familiar to the dogs has a regular, rather than commercial, driver's license. We're working on finding interior measurements of regular vans to see whether big-dog crates will fit. That information is not readily available online (we keep finding cargo-area width measurements but not length measurements).

Putting this together is like building a house of cards and hoping it doesn't fall over.

All of the dogs were rescues and all have been given appropriate work to do with the Paiges. Directly after the fire, Kris thought she was going to have to turn three of the four over again to guardian-dog rescue for rehoming, until the friend stepped in with the North Carolina solution (offer of housing, as well as support for the expenses of transporting the dogs)—a great relief all around, even if the logistics are complicated.

Bear is a true sweetheart as long as you don't threaten his family, four-legged or two-legged. He's not a house dog or he'd be in our house.

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We've done our best to keep him entertained, mostly with frozen peanut-butter-filled bones. When bored or anxious, he tends to go through fences. We thought ours was sturdy. He's determined. It's been reinforced several times during his visit.

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We were really sorry to see Bear go to board elsewhere, but we couldn't protect him adequately from the daily weather rumblings and he was so happy to be allowed to share a run with Heather! He was also lonely here, despite our best efforts. We even took our work to the back yard and sat with him to keep him company, but he needs a job to do.

These are Heather and Hoss, in what Kris describes as "an unusual calm moment." Someone in California intentionally crossed Akbash and Irish Wolfhound (I think I have the breeds right) and then, when the pups were ten months old, became alarmed at how large they were getting (this was a surprise?) and wanted to get rid of them.

Hoss-Heather

They're statuesque, and LIVELY. We didn't even consider trying to keep them entertained at our house.

This is Heather:

Heather

That's a corner of the house in the background. Kris and Earl were on the property yesterday and in another post I'll share some photos of what is left there. Throughout evacuation and all the other phases of this process, getting the animals settled has come first. Then the people. Then the buildings and property can be dealt with.

And this is Hoss, up on a hay bale, looking for trouble:

Hoss

His paws are HUGE. So's his nose. Kris says of that photo, "Hoss, standing on the TOP of the hay, woofing down (from about 8 feet up) at me walking into the barn . . . it's his favorite trick."

This morning, FedEx delivered to our house three GIANT dog crates for the transport of Bear, Heather, and Hoss.

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Those boxes weigh more than 50 pounds (23 kg) each. I had to hip-shove them out of the way so we could get our bikes in and out of the garage.

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Lady understands how to behave in a house, so she will be staying in Colorado during the regrouping time. She can walk on a leash, and do other tricks. She's not as good a livestock guardian as the others, but she's very protective of "her" people. 

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We now count in that number of honored folks.

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It took a number of days before Lady was willing to come in the house, even when Kris was staying with us. (She and Earl are now with friends who have more space than we do.) Then it took a while longer before she decided she could go on walks with us. Now she's in the house most of the time, and walks with Ceilidh (the Border collie rescue) and Tussah (the red-dog rescue) twice a day.

Which is pretty darn nice.

I'll be glad when all the transport pieces are in place and Bear, Heather, and Hoss can be past this phase of the dislocation. This morning, we measured big dogs for harnesses to be used during travel, and those are being ordered. Food has been ordered for them (four big bags of dog food burned up). The crates have arrived. Now all that's needed is a vehicle that will hold three big crates and is air conditioned.

One step at a time.

Kris and Lady

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(The photos are a combination of mine and Kris Paige's.)

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7 Responses

  1. Barbara

    I’ve had to transport rescue mastiffs across the country before many years ago and used one of these transportation services similar to this one.

    http://www.caninecarriers.com/story.html

    http://www.smallanimaldelivery.com/index.php

    There are others out there – perhaps someone working to provide fire victim services can assist in locating transportation?

    We had to move a rescue Neopolitain from Arizona to New Hampshire once and put together a railroad of people who were willing to transport certain legs. That is probably not practical for 3 large dogs at once but it might be possible. Especially if the person going with the dogs could ride along.

    Good luck with trying to get the dogs to their destination and my heart goes out to the family – I lost my house to a fire in the 80’s and my heart still hurts.

  2. Deb Robson

    This is great, Barbara! I think they just found a cargo van one-way, special rate for fire survivors, but we've also recently had some need ourselves to research transport for animals (and we won't fly them in cargo).

  3. Deb Robson

    That's REALLY cool, Barbara! Thanks again! We usually do our rescues one at a time (i.e., adopt rescues, and have a total of two at any given moment) so I haven't been involved with the groups. Wonderful! I need to check that out.

  4. Kris

    Thank you all so very much–and to Enterprise Rentals for being willing to adjust their policies to allow our middle son to come drive them. Our vet surprised us today by saying that ALL the boarding fees have been waived. Only medications are being billed. Bear dog was son’s college graduation present, and they have been seriously bonded since. Lady, the “house rescue” is that normal-in-rescue-circles called a “Failed Foster”. She earned her life supply of kibble the first week she stayed with me.

  5. Dina

    What wonderful news in the midst of so much tragedy. Enterprise just earned my business for an upcoming car rental. So glad to hear your transportation needs are met and your boarding fees were waived.

    My heart aches for Colorado’s firestorm victims – human and animal.

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