Wednesday, June 28, marked our 9th day on the road. In a little over a week we covered 3123 miles of our beautiful country and met countless people doing amazing things for animals. We were blessed with beautiful weather, clear skies, and only minimal mishaps, and for that I am very grateful!
We began the day in Hays, Kansas. You may not realize - we didn't until our server at dinner told us - there are three schools in Hays: the state university, the technical college, and the hair & beauty college. Another thing you might not know about Kansas in general... they have a very high 'kill' rate, meaning a large number of animals going into shelters do not find new homes. That's why BOGO Bowl came into existence; if we can take the line item "food" out of shelters' budgets, and those dollars can be freed up to keep pets longer, or provide medical care, or spay/neuter, or ___ else might rehome more animals more successfully, let's do it.
From Hays we ventured on to Wichita, where we met Mary Pat, a university professor of philosophy by day, and an angel for animals - well, the rest of the time.
Fifteen years ago she gave the majority of her five acre property to help animals. Now her organization, Lifeline Animal Placement, cares for hundreds of dogs and cats, some likely permanent residence. She and her volunteers work hard to rehome and keep safe their charges. I will forever be amazed by the hearts of these people. While we were there, a woman and her daughter drove up with a kitten she'd found wrapped in a towel. Mary Pat took the kitten, saying to one of the volunteers "I don't know where we'll put him but we'll find a space." That's the way it works. "We'll find a space."
From Wichita, we moved north west to Kansas City, Missouri, where we met Tori and Teresa, two of the women running the brand-spanking-new (6 month old) KC Pet Project. We chatted for a while and then had a tour of their facility, which used to be a vet's office. A team of local Starbucks employees were doing some volunteering, painting one of the office areas. One very nice volunteer walked three different dogs during our short visit.
It was hard, seeing so many animals needing homes, but while we were there we got to see two dogs go to their forever homes, and we met Hugo, a darling long-haired chihuahua who was found with two of his siblings in the yard of an abandoned house. Very busy place!
Now that our adventure has come to a close (for now - we have trips on the books for July, September and October) I can digest everything we've seen and learned. There are so many types of organizations, doing a variety of things: breed-specific rescue, shelters taking in any animal in need, pantries trying to slow the flow to shelters, bloggers who write about the passions they have for animals, men who make videos of the incredible things dogs do for humans, women who start amazing websites from their apartments and end up saving millions of animals a year, guys who hear about dogs living in dumps and save them, and the everyday people who can't help but squeal or coo when they meet a new animal.
We humans have a lot of challenges. Some might wonder why we focus on animals, when there are so many humans in need. My answer... because loving animals is one of the best things we humans do for ourselves, the animals, and the world in general. Interacting with animals soothes us, entertains us, and heals us. Unconditional love can wipe away memories of a long, difficult day and give us strength to get up and do it again tomorrow. Having someone listen to us, whether we speak aloud or merely through our actions, is comforting. Mood altering. (Even if 'someone' has four paws and says hello in ways we would never consider.)
Think about this: You can be in a room with ten people and still feel alone. But if you're in the room with a cat or dog, you'll never feel alone.
With warm thoughts from Iowa, there's no place like home!