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Happy New Years!

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  • Ryan Courtade
    Dear Activists, It s the time of year where people get together with families, celebrate the holidays, and make a resolution for the upcoming year. A
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2002

      Dear Activists,

      It's the time of year where people get together with families, celebrate the holidays, and make a resolution for the upcoming year. A resolution... something that will make your next year better than last year. It could be anything. Won't fight with the family, get good grades, work hard in school... or it could be deeper, it could go to helping the ones that thousands of people fight for, and millions killed. The group of mammals that have experienced the most injustice, the most oppression, and the cruelest treatment in history. More than any amount of life killed in war, more than in slavery, we must fight for the animals, because we can't afford to see them suffer any longer. I'm asking you today... please... make a new year resolution this year that will benifit animals, go vegan, buy cruelty free products, because then in the most religious time of the year, you will be spreading the word of peace and compassion, you will have taken the first step and be sending a message that the animals need to be set free, and you will no longer fund these cruel acts. The people that cause these acts, your time is up, we're coming for you, and we won't stop until we find you, and put you out of business.

      CompassionFest2002 (http://www.compassionfest.org), urgently needs your help with volunteering, and/or funding. We are currently looking for media contacts, cruelty free vendors, vegan food vendors, and more! Please visit our website, http://www.compassionfest.org, for more information, this event will only be sucessful with your help and support. We urgently need you.

      During the holidays I have attached an inspirational story that I would like you to read, the author would like to remain anonomous. I hope you all had a great holiday.

      For the Animals,

      Ryan Courtade

      "The Puppy Express"

      The Topps stood on the shoulder of the road and watched as their truck's engine shuddered and died. Nancy and Joe, their two childre, Jodi, twelve, and Matthew, fifteen, and their elderly dog, Snoopy, were 1,500 miles from home, stranded on a highway in Wyoming, with the old truck clearly beyond even Joe's gift for repairs. The little dog, peering around the circle of faces with cataract- dimmed eyes, seemed to reflect their anxiety.

      The Topps were on the road because five months before, a nephew had told Joe there was work to be had in the Napa Valley and he and Nancy decided to gamble. Breaking up their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana, they packed up the kids and Snoopy and set out for California. But once there, the warehousing job Joe hoped for didn't
      materialize, Nancy and the kids were very homesick, and their funds melted away. Now it was January and, the gamble lost, they were on their way back to Fort Wayne.

      The truck had taken them as far as Rock Springs, Wyoming, but now there was nothing to do but sell it to a junk dealer for twenty-five dollars and hitch a ride to the bus station. Two pieces of bad news greeted them at the station. Four tickets to Fort Wayne came to much more money than they had, and dogs were not allowed
      on the bus.

      "But we've got to take Snoopy with us." Nancy pleaded with the ticket-seller, tears welling in her eyes.

      Joe drew her away from the window. It was no use getting upset about Snoopy, he told, her, util they figured how to get themselves on the bus. With no choice but to ask for help, they called Traveler' Aid, and with kind efficiency, the local representative arranged for a motel room for them for the night. There, with their boxes and bags
      piled around them, they put in a call to relatives back home, who promised to get together money for the fare, and wire it the next day.

      "But what about Snoopy?" Matthew said as soon as his parents got off the phone.

      "We can't go without Snoopy," Jodi stated flatly. At seventeen, Snoopy, a beagle-dachshund mix, had a bit of a heart condition and some kidney problems, and the family worried about her.

      Joe picked up the little dog. "Snoopy," he said, tugging her floppy ears in the way she liked. "I think you're going to have to hitchhike."

      "Don't tease, Joe," said Nancy shortly.

      "I'm not teasing, honey," he assured her, tucking Snoopy into the crook of his arm. "I'm going to try to find an eastbound trucker to take the old girl back for us."

      At the local truck stop, Joe sat Snoopy on a stool beside him while he fell in conversation with drivers who stopped to put her. "Gee, I'd like to help you out," one after another said. "She's awful cute and I wouldn't mind the company, but I'm not going through Fort Wayne this trip." The only driver who could have taken her picked Snoopy up and looked at her closely. "Naw," the man growled, "with an old dog like her, there'd be too many pit stops. I got to make time." Still hopeful, Joe tacked up a sign and gave the motel's phone number.

      "Somebody'll call before bus time tomorrow," he predicted to the kids when he and Snoopy got back to the motel.

      "But suppose nobody does?" Jodi said.

      Joe answered, "Sweetie, we've got to be on that bus. The Travelers' Aid can only pay for us to stay here one night."

      The next day Joe went off to collect the wired funds while Nancy and the kids sorted through their possessions, trying to decide what could be crammed into the six pieces of baggage they were allowed on the bus and what had to be left behind. Ordinarliy Snoopy would have napped, but now her eyes followed every move of Nancy and the children, and if one of them paused to think, even for a minute, Snoopy nosed at the idle hand, asking to be touched, to be held.

      "She knows," Jodi said, cradling her. "She knows something awful is going to happen."

      The Travelers' Aid representative arrived to take the belongings they couldn't pack for donation to the local thrift shop. A nice man, he was caught between being sympathetic and being practical when he looked at Snoopy. "Seventeen is really old for a dog," he said gently. "Maybe you just have to figure she's had a long life and a good one." When nobody spoke, he took a deep breath, "If
      you want, you can leave her with me and I"ll have her put to sleep after you've gone."

      The children looked at Nancy but said nothing; they understood there wasn't any choice and they didn't want to make it harder on their mother by protesting. Nancy bowed her head. She thought of all the walks, all the romps, all the picnics, all the times she'd gone in to kiss the children goodnight and Snoopy had lifted her head to
      be kissed too.

      "Thank you," she told the man. "It's kind of you to offer. But no. No," she repeated firmly, "Snoopy's part of the family, and families don't give up on each other." She reached for the telephone book, looked up "Kennels" in the Yellow Pages,and began dialing. Scrupulously, she started each call with the explanation that the family was down on their luck. "But," she begged, "if you'll just keep our little dog until we can find a way to get her to Fort Wayne, I give you my word we'll pay. Please trust me. Please."

      A veterinary clinic, which also boarded pets, finally agreed, and the Travelers' Aid representative drove them to the place. Nancy was the last to say good-bye. She knelt and took Snoopy's frosted muzzle in her hands. "You know we'd never leave you if we could help it," she whispered, "so don't give up; don't you dare give up. We'll get you back somehow. I promise."

      Once back in Fort Wayne, the Topps found a mobile home to rent, one of Joe's brothers gave them his old car, sisters-in-law provided pots and pans and bed linens, the children returned to their old schools, and Nancy and Joe found jobs. Bit by bit the family got itself together. But the circle had a painful gap in it. Snoopy was missing. Every day Nancy telephoned a different moving company, a different trucking company, begging for a ride for Snoopy. Every day Jodi, and Matthew came through the door asking if she'd had any luck, and she had to say no.

      By March, they'd been back in Fort Wayne six weeks and Nancy was in despair. She dreaded hearing from Wyoming that Snoopy had died out there, never knowing how hard they'd tried to get her back. One day, having tried everything else, she telephoned the Fort Wayne Department of Animal Control and told them the story.

      "I don't know what I can do to help," the director, a man named Rod, said when she'd finished. "But I'll tell you this: I'm sure going to try."

      A week later, he too had exhausted the obvious approaches. Snoopy was too frail to be shipped in the unheated baggage compartment of a plane. A professional animal transporting company wanted $665 to bring her east. Shipping companies refused to be responsible for her. Rod hung up from his latest call and shook his head. "I wish the old-time Pony Express was still in existence," he remarked to his assistant, Skip. "They'd have brought
      the dog back."

      "They'd have passed her along from one driver to another. It would've been a Puppy Express," Skip joked.

      Rod thought for a minute. "By golly, that may be the answer." He got out a map and a list of animal shelters in Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and began telephoning. Could he enlist enough volunteers to put together a Puppy Express to transport Snoopy by
      stages across five states? Would enough people believe it mattered so for a little seventeen-year-old dog to be reunited with her family that they'd drive a hundred or so miles east to deliver her to the next driver?

      A week later, Rod called the Topps. "The Puppy Express starts tomorrow. Snoopy's coming home!" he told Nancy jubilantly.

      The animal control officer in Rock Springs had volunteered to be Snoopy's first driver. When he pulled up outside the clinic, the vet bundled Snoopy in a sweater and carried her to the car. "She's got a cold," the vet said, "so keep her warm. Medicine and instructions and the special food for her kidney condition are in the shopping bag."

      She put the little dog on the seat and held out her hand. Snoopy placed her paw in it. "You're welcome, old girl," the vet said, shaking it. "It's been a pleasure taking care of you. The best of luck. Get home safely!"

      They drove the 108 miles to Rawlings, Wyoming. There they rendezvoused with a woman named Cathy, who'd come 118 miles from Casper to meet them. Cathy laughed when she saw Snoopy. "What a funny-looking little serious creature you are to be traveling in such style," she teased. "Imagine, private chauffeurs across five states." But that evening, when she phoned Rod in Indiana to
      report that Snoopy had arrived safely in Casper, she called her "a dear old girl," and admitted that, "If she were mine, I'd go to a lot of trouble to get her back, too."

      Snoopy went to bed at Cathy's house a nondescript little
      brown-and-white dog, very long in the tooth, and woke the the next morning a celebrity. Word of the seventeen-year- old puppy with a bad cold who was being shuttled across mid-America to rejoin her family had reached the news media. After breakfast, dazed by the camera but, as always, polite, Snoopy sat on a desk at the Casper
      Humane Society and obligingly cocked her head and showed off the new leash that was a gift from Cathy. And that night, in Fort Wayne, the Topps were caught between laughter and tears as they saw their old girl peer out at them from the television set.

      With the interview behind her, Snoopy set out for North Platte, 350 miles away, in the company of a humane society official in Casper who had volunteered for the longest single hop on Snoopy's journey. The two of them stopped overnight and arrived in North Platte at noon the next day. More reporters and cameramen awaited them,
      but as soon as she'd been interviewed, Snoopy was back on the road for a 138-mile trip to Grand Island.

      Twice more that day she was passed along, arriving in Lincoln Nebraska, after dark and so tired that she curled up in the first doggie bed she saw despite the growls of its rightful owner.

      With a gift of a new wicker sleeping basket and a not: "Happy to be part of the chain reuniting Snoopy with her family," Nebraska passed the little dog on to Iowa. After a change of car and drive in Des Moines, Snoopy sped on and by nightfall was in Ceader Rapids.

      At nightfall of her fifth day on the road, Snoopy was in Chicago, her next-to-last stop. Whether it was that she was getting close to home or just because her cold had run its course, she was clearly better. Indeed, the vet who examined her told the reporters that, "For an old lady who's been traveling all week and has come more than
      1,300 miles, she's in grand shape. She's going to make it home tomorrow just fine." The Topps, watching the nightly update of Snoopy's journey on the Fort Wayne TV station, broke into cheers.

      The next day was Saturday, March 17th. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, the little dog sported a new green coat with a green derby pinned to the collar. The Chicago press did one last interview with her, and then Snoopy has nothing to do but nap until Rod's assistant, Skip, arrived from Fort Wayne to drive her the 160 miles home.

      Hours before Snoopy and Skip were expected in Fort Wayne, the Topps were waiting excitedly at the humane shelter. Jodi and Matthew worked on a room-size banner SNOOPY! FROM ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING, TO FORT WAYNE, INDIANA, VIA THE PUPPY EXPRESS, with her route outlined across the bottom and their signatures in the corner. Reporters from the Fort Wayne TV
      stations and newspaper, the Topps, friends, and family and the shelter's staff all crowded into the shelter's waiting room

      Somewhere amid the fuss and confusion, Rod found time to draw Nancy aside and give her word that Snoopy would be arriving home with her boarding bill marked "Paid in Full." An anonymous friend of the Humane Society in Casper had taken care of it.

      Then the CB radio crackled, and Skip's voice filled the crowded room. "Coming in! The Puppy Express is coming in!"

      Nancy and Joe and the children rushed out in the subfreezing air, the reporters on their heels. Around the corner came the pickup truck, lights flashing, siren sounding. "Snoopy's home!" screamed the children. "Snoopy's home!"

      And there the little dog was, sitting up on the front seat in her St. Patrick's day outfit, peering nearsightedly out of the window at all the commotion. After two months of separation from the family, after a week on the road, after traveling across five states for 1,500 miles in the company of strangers, Snoopy's odyssey was over.

      Nancy got to the truck first. In the instant before she snatched the door open, Snoopy recognized her. Barking wildly, she scrambled across the seat and into Nancy's arms. Then Joe was there, and the children. Laughing, crying, they hugged Snoopy and each other. The family that didn't give up on even its smallest member was back together again!

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