Where in the world do I start? I want to tell you all everything! But I might have to break it down into parts. Sorry the updates were not better along the way but after about hour 10, we had to use all the energy we had to drive and focus on the dogs.
First, here is a little video that Brittany took before we left which will give you a better idea of the layout.
The drive really wasn't too bad. I drove from Columbiana, Alabama to Marion, Virginia. That is the first time we let any dogs out. We had one beautiful and sweet 4 year old yellow lab and knew we just had to let her out because she was probably holding it. We let about 5 of the bigger (older) dogs out but only had success with two of them. It was very hard to let them out but also very hard not to.
Here is our sweet lab friend Josie.Brittany started driving from there and drove us from Virginia through West Virginia, Maryland, and most of Pennsylvania. We stopped again to get gas somewhere in north Pennsylvania and it was dark at this point. The van runs on diesel and at most place they only had diesel in the 'trucker' areas where the big rigs fill up. Not very fun but we survived. At one stop around West Virginia we found a gas station that had diesel at the regular pumps and we decided it was probably time to try to give the dogs some water. We pulled over towards the back of the building and started the process. It was very dark and the van did not have lights in the back so we had to use flash lights. We managed to give everyone a little bit of water but there was one small puppy in the very back that would not drink any. (Thinking about this makes me cry) She was in a cage with a friend and they were just pretzeled around each other at the back of their cage. I got her out and she just snuggled up into the nape of my neck. I am so upset that we did not get a better photo of her because she was adorable but so skinny. I got down on the pavement and put her in between my legs with the water in front of her. She wanted nothing to do with it and was just leaning as hard as she could into my leg. All she wanted was to be close to another living being. She had her tail in between her legs but as I started to put her back in the cage it perked up a little. She really wanted to be with her kennel mate. Brittany suggested putting her up front with us and had she been alone I would have, but I knew she was happiest with her friend. (there is a happy ending to this, I promise)
I started driving from there and got us through New Jersey. This is about the time I started noticing the 'grinding' noise. It wasn't that bad on the interstate but very loud when going slow speeds. I just ignored it because there was nothing we could do in the middle of the night and we just had to focus on the dogs. We made our way into NYC and just as Brittany was typing up a post on my phone about seeing the Statue of Liberty, there was a fork in the road. The GPS did not specify which way to go and so I just took a 50/50 shot and it ended up being the wrong one. It was around 3 in the morning and suddenly we were in the streets of NYC. Not a good feeling. I would have been very nervous driving my own car through New York but driving this van with 31 dogs which was making a scary grinding noise certainly made for a stressful situation. The GPS was redirecting us but it was an awfully long route back to the interstate. We went through Holland tunnel and ended up on West street in Chelsea and drove right by the piers and saw all the big ships. We went about 6 miles down West Street which had lights at every block.
Holland Tunnel-as we went through 'Without You' from Rent came on my ipod. So appropriate.
The stopping and starting was killing me but we finally made it back on route and only lost about 20 minutes. And I actually think the adrenaline from it kept me feeling wide awake for quite sometime!
We made it into Connecticut and took a quick bathroom break. I went first and then Brittany, the dogs were going crazy so I just circled the parking lot. It was so amazing, as long as the car was in motion they were fine. But, as soon as it came to a stop they would get restless and bark. Obviously taking this trip is a lot better for them than the alternative but looking back there and seeing their puppy dog eyes just broke my heart.
This little guy was right behind us. He was very protective, at one stop during the night some poeple walked by the van and he went crazy doing this deep bark.
I was really getting anxious and just wanted to get them out of the cages. We continued through Connecticut and saw the sun rise there. It was very beautiful although it started to get very foggy. We entered Massachusetts and kept on trucking, Brittany took over driving somewhere along the way. Things start to get a little bit fuzzy about this time. We went through a lot of tolls and finally entered into New Hampshire. We arrived at our first shelter around 7:30 am. There were a few volunteers there to help us out. Each kennel had clear a plastic envelope with their information in it which had the name of the shelter they were going to written on it. We just started pulling the papers and getting the dogs out one at a time. We transported them to a big fenced in area where they had baby pools full of water. One of the puppies ran straight to one and just laid down in it. They were so happy.
This shelter took most of the puppies. When we were unloading I wasn't paying much attention to anything as I just wanted to get them unloaded as soon as possible. We still had the other half to take to another shelter so we didn't have much time but when we finally had everyone in that group unloaded I stood there for a moment and tried to take it all in. Then I spotted her, my little friend that wouldn't take any water back in West Virginia. Her tail was up as high as possible and wagging and she was playing with everyone. (I'm about to start crying again). I think that might have been my favorite moment of the trip. They told us that they leave them out for most of the day which made me happy to know that they could run around and play. I also made sure to point out my special friend and told them that she should share a kennel with someone else.
I felt very uneasy as we still have the other dogs in the van most of which were the larger ones so I really wanted to move on and get them to our next stop. It was about 30 minutes to the other shelter and our route was through the gorgeous quaint neighborhoods of New Hampshire. I am a little upset that we didn't take any photos but at that point the one and only goal was to get there. But Brittany and I kept telling the pups how lucky they were because this was their new home!
We arrived by about 8 at the New Hampshire SPCA and it was a very nice facility.
They had a lot of people there to help us unload and yet again all I was focused on was getting them unloaded as quickly as possible. Unfortunately as they were unloaded they were taken inside, checked in and then taken to the back into the clinic. I'm sure we could have asked to go see them but we were focusing on cleaning out the van so we didn't get to say goodbye or love on any of the dogs. But that is ok, it isn't about us! About this time is when the reality of the 'ginding noise' started to set it. Also, the van was due for an oil change and the light kept coming on saying that we were low on oil. As much as I wanted to ignore these two issues and just hit the road, I knew that we had to get it checked out.
Part two coming later today!
Here are just a few more photos of the pups!