We watched the crowd assemble, then drove our car close to the gang, got out and watched from about 100 feet away. The truck’s shadow cast a covering of shade on the new dog owners; a gesture of kindness that I first thought was random until I met the people driving the truck. Kindness is not a random occurrence for the people who operate Alpha Dog Transport; it is deeply embedded in their DNA.
Two men got out of the cab and sauntered toward the trailer, smiling briefly at the folks who gathered outside of their transport before disappearing inside. We waited, some of us not knowing quite what to expect, others knowing exactly what was coming, because they had done it before.
Our new friends had been through a lot, the most recent being a four-day highway road trip. Dogs live in the moment, and as far as I know are unable to worry about the future. I imagine they are aware of the difference that different moments bring, and in all likelihood know when things are dull. They understand what is, and the what is that had been going on for days must have been an eternity to the dogs. For me, knowing that a destination waits at the end of a long journey makes the tedium bearable, being in the limbo of perpetual motion must have been difficult for them, as the miles and hours added up, the frequent stops to pee, eat and stretch the only breaks in the monotony.
The first people in line were the first to be introduced to their new pet. If those people were anything like me and Cheryl they had seen the pictures, read the description of their new friend, researched the breed, knew kind of what to expect, yet were still anxious over what waited for them. Adopting a homeless pet is a risky venture-especially one that had been transported over a thousand miles to find a home.
“Michael, look at him!” Cheryl said, barely able to contain her excitement. One of the people from the transport company had opened a side door of the trailer, the one nearest the cab and stepped out, holding the first adoptee. He wasn’t at all what I expected. I had envisioned a scared little rascal; timid, shy and unwilling so socialize. Instead, a bundle of energy and love appeared, and was handed off to his new owners. They let him onto the ground, and he circled his new owners, sniffed and sniffed some more then graciously let his new mom pick him up and hold him in her arms. The lady was overwhelmed with joy, and tears streamed down her face as she walked past us, holding the brown, mixed Labrador, hound dog, terrier thing so tightly I thought he might be crushed. But he wasn’t crushed, not even close. He was as overjoyed as she was, and he licked her face, and she didn’t mind, and the lady’s husband followed, a smile on his face that appeared as soon as he saw his new friend come out of the truck, and grew wider as he saw the effect his new friend had on his wife. It was a look of pure joy, true, uncomplicated, uninterrupted by phones or TV’s or internets- just a middle-aged man and his dog and his wife who was beyond happy, and they left, the three of them, lost in their new world that will revolve around their pet who had traveled so far to be with them.
“This is incredible,” I said to Cheryl as the man from the truck company went inside to get another one. She smiled then, a true, soulful smile that transcended time and place, and caught me, and I smiled too, and didn’t stop for hours.
We leaned on the hood of our car, not wanting to rush things, content for once to stand back and let what was happening happen. It was enough just to live in the moment and share that moment with a group of people who, for a little while anyway, forgot about their busy lives and focused on the miracle that was happening to us right now.