Take me home my heart is heavy and my feet are sore
Take me home I don't wanna roam no more.
~ Johnny Cash, "Take Me Home"
When Tim was planning his cross-country adventure with Brewster, he was looking forward to the time they'd spend together traveling to California. Man and dog on the road. So when Tim started talking about the return trip, how quiet it would be without Brewster and that it might be nice to transport a rescue dog back to Florida, I chalked this up to Tim's ever-present, pre-trip optimism and figured, "Let's see how he feels once he's traveled the first 2700 miles with a dog". And left it at that.
But even after more than two weeks on the road, going from hotel to hotel, including an emotional week of finding Brewster an awesome home with Joe, and my returning home by plane (I did my cross-country stint in my 22nd year and that was more than enough), Tim still insisted he'd like to help a/some dog(s) in need. Good boy :).
So a couple of days before leaving San Diego I reached out to some of my rescue friends to see if we could lend a hand. And as anyone in rescue can predict, that hand was grabbed quickly. Our friends at Tickled Pink Weimaraner Rescue needed 2 dogs transported from Phoenix to Albuquerque, which in the big scheme of things was a short trip. Tim's doggie companions were Phoebe (Blue Weimaraner) and Bella (Chihuahua/Min Pin mix), a sweet pair coming from a neglectful home. Phoebe had an anxious adopter awaiting her arrival and Bella was going to a great rescue. So, Tim picked the girls up and soon reported that they were excellent traveling companions. He delivered them to their destinations with wagging tails.
Now it's Friday. I am at my desk in Wellington. Tim calls and asks if I've looked at Facebook lately.
Tim's cruising down the Interstate 40 about 90 miles east of Oklahoma City through a rural, sparsely populated area. There, standing on the road, with cars speeding past him at 75mph is a small Border Collie looking dog, oblivious to the danger he's in.
Tim pulls over and when he calls the dog, he comes immediately. After he slips a Tickled Pink leash on him, he sees that he's young, very friendly, emaciated and filthy dirty. For 10 minutes Tim yells over to the mobile home park that borders the highway. Finally, a man that looks to be about 75 emerges. They start talking and here's the short version: the dog was his, he gave it to his son, his son gave him to the guy at the gas station. He would feed the dog (no name) "a couple times a week." Tim asks if anyone is going to miss him because he could find a great home for him. The answer? "No, I don't reckon he will." In the car he goes.
The buzz has already started on Facebook, including suggestions for names. The two that emerge right away come from Joe Daly (Cash - for Johnny Cash, the Highwayman) and Michelle Howard (Sue - for "A Boy Named Sue, because of his pink leash). So let me introduce you to "Sue Cash, the Highway Dog!"
Tim stops to get him some food and a collar. I call ahead to find a vet that can see them on short notice. He's needs a quick once over and most definitely a bath. The kind people at Park Hill Pet Clinic in North Little Rock, Arkansas welcome them with open arms. As Tim shares the story with them and the origin of the name, one of the vet tech's promptly lifts her sleeve to show off her collection of Johnny Cash tattoos. (Synchronicity) So they bath him twice, pull a ton of ticks off him, give him an exam, a rabies shot and determine he's about 12-18 months old. His health is okay but he's severely underweight and pale from the ticks and lack of nutrition. Onward they go.
The notion of finding a good home or solid rescue commitment on the way home quickly fades. We decide to foster him, knowing one of our great rescue contacts will help us find him a home. Tim and Cash spend two more nights in hotels. Cash is well mannered and sleeps peacefully. No accidents, no chewing, just a voracious appetite, a wagging tail and a lot of gratitude.
On his way to Wellington, Tim stops in Orlando to visit his parents, Joe and Loretta. He's told them about Cash and they are anxious to meet him. When they see him, they are taken aback by the next piece of synchronicity. Cash looks a lot like Tim's childhood dog, Tabs. His parents are smitten and want to adopt him. Cash loves them and they have a fun night together. They agree that Tim will take him home while they finish their kitchen renovation.
So Cash is with us for a short stint and in the meantime we are going to fatten him up, get him neutered and crate train him. He's doing great on all fronts. Our seniors, Roxie and Gunther, are being very patient, helping him understand pack hierarchy and playing with him occasionally. Cash is starved for attention. If he's not sitting in your lap, he sleeping in the kitchen or by the front door. He's figured out pretty quickly that receiving belly rubs, regular meals and long walks is heaven on earth.
Tim anticipated that he'd have time to process the whole Brewster experience on his return trip. And we both thought this first couple of weeks without Brewster would be a bit melancholy at best. We certainly miss Brewster a lot, but with Cash's arrival we got a lesson in expectations and opening ourselves up to the next adventure (dog) on the horizon (highway). Amen to that.