After a stressful week of finding a rescue to take Balto, pulling him from the shelter, getting him neutered, and keeping him relaxed in our house, it was finally time to hit the road. The GPS said it would take 18 hours to reach Wisconsin, but we knew that with frequent puppy breaks it would take longer. We have our GPS set to tell us what time we will arrive at our destination. As we were getting ready to leave, I jokingly said to my husband, “If we drive straight through, we could get there by 9 am tomorrow”.
We figured this would let us feel less rushed if we hit traffic or needed to take more frequent stops for Balto. We both had to be back for work on Monday!
We got the car all packed and let Mauja and Atka see Balto one last time before we hit the road. It’s almost like they knew what was happening. As we put Balto in the car, they both started crying and howling. They don’t do that when we leave, so we knew it was about Balto.
Nick and I took turns driving so the other could relax and cuddle in the back seat with Balto. He’s definitely a velcro dog and I’m sure he would have been stressed if we just left him in the back seat by himself.
About 6 hours into the drive, I just started sobbing. I couldn’t believe I was going to have to give this dog up. We had only had him in our care for two days, but we bonded so much. I spent all my free time with him and even slept on the floor with him to try and make him feel more comfortable in our home. We barely knew anything about the rescue we were taking him to; just trusting things we had read about them online.
Nick and I seriously discussed (for a few hours) turning back around and taking him home with us. Taking him home would come with some consequences. Nick is Air Force and we are currently living in military housing, which means we technically rent. The company we rent from has a two animal limit and we are already at our quota. We would have to try and find a way for them to give us an exception, which would be highly unlikely, or we would have to move off base. This town isn’t exactly the most giant breed friendly place. Finding a home to rent would be nearly impossible, so we would have to buy a home. Since we will only be here for two to three more years and we’re not in the best situation to buy a home, that did not seem like a feasible option.
But back to the drive.
Every time it was my turn to rest, I would lie in the back seat, cuddle with Balto, and try to sleep. I have serious issues sleeping and take medication to help me get some rest at night. It was amazing how easy it was for me to sleep without my medication simply because of Balto. My dogs aren’t quite the cuddlebugs like him.
After about 20 hours, we finally made it to our destination. Balto was wonderful in the car. We couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. As we pulled up to the house, my stomach dropped and I started crying again. The house was extremely run down, there were several unkempt dogs running around, and there was a tiny yard full of trash. I immediately looked at Nick and said, “If this is the right place, there is no way we are leaving him here”. Thankfully, he agreed with me.
I got Balto out of the car and Nick went to knock on the door. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Nick came back over and said we did have the wrong place. She knew who we were looking for and gave us the correct directions.
When we finally reached the actual rescue, I started to feel much better. The place was absolutely lovely and the dogs looked well taken care of. The woman in charge was extremely nice and seemed to care so much for the dogs. Of course, that didn’t help me from (once again) crying like a child. I’m even tearing us as I write this. I couldn’t believe I had gone through so much just to put Balto at another stopping point before his forever home. I know the rescue is going to make sure he gets into the perfect home, but I still couldn’t help wishing that home was our home.
After talking with the family for quite some time, we finally said our tear-filled goodbyes to Balto. There was silence and tears for the first few hours of the drive back. I haven’t slept well since.
Some dogs just capture your heart in an unexpected way. You bond with them like no other dog. I still see Balto’s soulful eyes looking at me. He needed me as much as I needed him. Two days is all I had with him and I can’t seem to get over “losing” him.
For those of you involved in rescue, I applaud what you do day in and day out. I still believe Balto was special to me and I wouldn’t have had the same experience with another dog, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s this hard every time. Thankfully, the rescue has promised to keep me updated on him. Some family is about to be extremely lucky.