I have lived in a noisy, congested, big city for most of my life, and for most of my life I have dreamt of moving to the quiet, serene, nature-filled country.  About 12 years ago, my spouse and I were finally ready to make the move.  At that time, we had only 2 dogs and 4 cats.  Moving would have been quite easy back then.

But just as we were getting ready to move, Hurricane Katrina struck a devastating blow to the Gulf Coast in August of 2005.  And instead of moving, I found myself travelling down to the Gulf Coast with hundreds of other Pet Rescue Volunteers from all over the country.  We rescued thousands of abandoned and left behind dogs and cats in the months following Katrina; and I myself eventually brought home two rescued dogs and a rescued cat.  I also helped transport dozens of rescued dogs and cats all over America.

Now my spouse and I had 4 dogs and 5 cats at home.  Moving then would have still been relatively easy.  But soon after returning to Chicago, I found myself being inundated with phone calls and e-mails from people who had heard of my Katrina Pet Rescue efforts, and who now begged me to start trapping abandoned homeless cats and dogs wandering the streets of Chicago.

So instead of moving then when we should have, I found myself out on the streets of Chicago at all hours of the day and night, trapping dozens of homeless cats and dogs.  And with every call or e-mail that I got, my first question to the person calling or e-mailing me was:  “Sure, I can trap this dog or cat, but what will you do with it when I do trap it?”  And their answers always were:  “We’ll Adopt It!” or “We’ll Pay Its Animal Hospital Costs!” or “We’ll Find It A Good Home!”  And 9 out of 10 times, these people wouldn’t keep their promises, and my spouse and I were stuck with another enormous vet bill, and we had yet another homeless dog or cat on our hands.

Since I refuse to take any dog or cat that I rescue from the mean streets to a ‘Kill Shelter,’ my spouse and I ended up with a houseful of cats and dogs that no one else would adopt.  But the calls, and the texts, and the e-mails from people begging me to “Trap Just One More!” never ended.  So last summer, we finally decided that it was definitely time to move to the country with our houseful of rescued cats and dogs because we sadly had no more room to take in any more.

We spent months looking at homes out in the country in several states, and last Fall we finally found one that we thought would be perfect for us and for our extremely large pet family.  But now, the hard part would begin – transporting all of our many cats and dogs to our new home.

Numerous friends offered to help us transport our pets to our new home in the country, and although I trust most of my friends, I also now see more and more horror stories of pets that are being transported somewhere escaping from vehicles at rest stops or on busy highways, and I was not about to let that happen to any of our pets.  And sadly, many of these pets that are lost in transit, are never seen again.  So I told my spouse that we would have to transport all of them ourselves.

transporting the dogsTrip One:  My vehicle was loaded with Cats; Rebecca’s vehicle was loaded with our Small Dogs, which I affectionately call ‘The Poopers.’  Rebecca had the much easier ride.  Our small dogs all love her immensely, and they would follow her anywhere, so they were quite happy on this long new journey with her.  The cats in my vehicle however were not very happy at all – they were all stressed out, and they all cried and meowed and cried some more until we finally reached our destination.

Trip Two:  We had decided that Rebecca would stay at our new home with this first batch of cats and dogs, and I would return to our old home in the city to transport the next batch.  On Trip Two, I transported three of our large rescued dogs (which I affectionately call The Beasty Boys) to their new home, and since they would follow me anywhere, all three of them enjoyed the long journey immensely.

Watchers Trip Three:  Three cats and three dogs still remained at our old home, so I decided to transport these three cats next – Gracie Lou, Tina, and Buttons.  Little did I realize that these three felines were already extremely stressed out, having watched us already take away many of their feline friends.  I managed to get Gracie Lou and Tina into Cat Carriers against their will, and when I picked up poor terrorized Buttons to place her into a Carrier, she panicked and bit down on one of my fingers to the bone.

I had to literally prise her teeth out of my finger, and now, I was in immense pain.  But all three traumatized cats were in carriers, so I decided to immediately transport them anyway.  Within an hour on our trip, my entire left hand had swollen up like a baseball mitt, and the pain in my left hand was now almost unbearable – but I drove on.

Unfortunately, I had to travel on a tollway to get to our new home, and when I handed the toll booth clerk my money with my swollen left hand, she gasped out loud and said:  “Man, That Is Nasty Looking!  What Happened?”  I pointed to the back seat and the three crying cats in carriers back there, and she yelled out as I drove off:  “Good Luck!”

When I finally reached our new home several hours later, Rebecca took one look at my swollen left hand and said:  “Man, That Is Nasty Looking!  You Better Go To The Doctor Right Away!”  Of course, I hate going to the doctors, so I waited several days, in excruciating pain, before doing so.  And when I walked into the doctor’s office and showed her my swollen left hand, she immediately proclaimed:  “Man, That Is Nasty Looking!”  I had to laugh as I told her that I had heard that a time or two before.

The doctor immediately gave me a Tetanus Shot, an Antibiotics Shot, and Gobs of Huge Antibiotic Pills that were bigger than any I had ever seen before, which I had to take every four hours for an entire week.  The swelling in my left hand didn’t go down for a whole month.  I have been bitten by snakes and dogs, and stung by bees, wasps, and hornets, but none of those bites and stings even came close to the pain that I endured from poor frightened Buttons’ cat bite.

We're getting our own roomsTrip Four:  Three Dogs Left – Jack, Shadow, and Tater.  Jack and Tater jumped right into my truck; they were ready to go!  Poor Shadow however immediately panicked, and he raced all around our yard in sheer terror.  He had been nervously watching me packing up cats and whisking his dog buddies away for the past few weeks now, and he must have now suddenly had a flashback to his prior life out on the streets.

Poor Shadow had been cruelly tossed out of someone’s van when he was only 8 months old, and he soon became feral.  He wandered the streets for months, trusting no human being, and it took us over a month to finally catch him.  And when I finally brought him home, I had to sleep out in our backyard dog kennel with him for over a month before he finally began to trust me.

me and my ShadowI really believe that poor Shadow thought that I was now rounding up all of our dogs and cats, whisking them away in my truck, and then abandoning them somewhere.  I finally had to lasso him, and then drag him inch by inch into a Dog Carrier.  Thankfully, he didn’t bite me like Buttons had, but the poor guy just could not stop shaking, trembling, crying, and moaning the entire trip.  Jack and Tater kept looking at him like:  “What the heck is your problem?  Everything will be OK.”

When we finally reached our new home, Jack and Tater happily jumped out of my truck and immediately joined their Beasty Boy Brothers in our new yard.  Poor traumatized Shadow, however, would not come out of the dog carrier for a very long time.  Then he finally sat up, looked all around, and spotted Rebecca and all of his Beasty Boy Buddies joyously romping around in our new yard. He suddenly came racing out of the carrier.

He happily raced around his new home’s backyard several times; very playfully reunited with his Beasty Boy Brothers; then he pounced on me and knocked me over in the grass.  Then he began lavishing me with non-stop, exuberant, wet, doggie kisses.  I laughed and I laughed, and I could now hear him thinking to himself:  “Oh, God!  Oh, God!  You Didn’t Abandon Us!”  “Oh, God, Oh God! This Is Our New Home!”  “Oh, God, Oh, God!  “I Love You!  I Love You!”

If You Ever Want To Experience True, Unaltered, Unconditional, Everlasting Love; Rescue An Abandoned Dog.

As For Buttons The Cat, She Is Still Making Me Laugh Several Months Later.  Every night now in our new home when I settle into my Recliner to watch a little television, I eventually hear her jump off the bed in the bedroom.  She then silently walks into the living room and she sits right at my feet, staring at me in silence.  Sometimes I ignore her for quite some time; and yet, she won’t move or stop staring at me.

Then I eventually laugh, and I look at her and I say:  “Buttons, I Forgive You For Biting Me!  Don’t Worry About It Anymore!”  And once I say that to her, she gets up, silently heads back to the bedroom, jumps up on the bed, and falls fast asleep.

And Life is Good, Once More.

Ed Kostro












Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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