From the Editor,
I haven’t always been a crazy animal person. I didn’t own a dog til I was 30. I thought agility was a measurement on the Presidential Fitness Test. I didn’t know about TNR for cats, or that there was an annual Humane Lobby Day at the state capitol. And I never would have guessed that a pocket-pet rescue would exist to help animals like the rats we studied in fourth grade science.
In 2007, a professional athlete with a dog fighting business catapulted me in to the world of rescue and caused me to become sensitive to animals in a way I never had been.
A few years ago, I was driving on a two-lane highway when a dog zoomed past me in the other lane, ahead of about five cars. I turned around and followed the runaway to a large ditch between two busy roads. The ditch was triangular in shape, with a fence on one side. Another couple had stopped on the third side, and we had this dog in our sights.
I grabbed my leash. They grabbed a granola bar. And for about 45 minutes, we silently, carefully walked closer to the dog, a Brittany Spaniel, who was simultaneously on alert and exhausted from running. She was skittish, unwilling to let us get too close. We didn’t want to move too fast and spook her. Without exchanging more than a few words, the three of us were able to get down on the ground and catch her, finally.
With hearts pounding, we hooked the the leash and called the Nevada number on her tag.
A relieved owner said he was on his way.
Her name was Lucy, and she was seven miles from home. Her owner had moved to Minnesota for a new job a month earlier, and Lucy had been missing for three days. “I have no friends and no family here except my two dogs,” he told me later in an email. “I posted her picture up on Craigslist, the Humane Society, as well as printouts all over my neighborhood area, hoping someone would find her before she got hurt.”
The experienced changed the way he saw loose dogs, too.
“I used to see runaways and think how sad it was and hope the poor little dog doesn’t get hurt,” he said. “But I’d keep driving on my way. You guys didn’t. You decided to make a difference and you have. I’m going to start keeping a leash and some treats in my car in case.”
The couple who stopped in the ditch with me were on the way to their anniversary dinner. “All evening we would smile at the thought of Lucy and her owner being together.”
Now, four years later, I think back on that experience, grateful for the serendipitous timing between two busy highways. It could have had a very different ending.
That professional athlete from 2007 was Michael Vick, and one of his former fighting dogs, Hector, was adopted by Rochester dog advocates Roo and Clara Yori.
And now Roo is in the national spotlight himself—using his athletic fame for the good of dogs.
Roo is making a difference for animals on a large scale. And I think he would agree that anyone can impact the life of an animal, whether it’s by adopting, advocating, volunteering, or even stopping in a ditch to help a scared pup get home.
Thank you, Roo, for walking the walk—and climbing the salmon ladder.