By Annie Hart
We're racing 50 miles per hour down Santa Monica Boulevard. Somewhere ahead is a bus that we blindly follow. Five minutes earlier I got a call from Sam of WagAware that a homeless man had four puppies in a Tupperware bin with the lid on it. They weren't getting nearly enough air to breathe. So I jumped into my car with my husband, James, and our dog, Arnold.
Red light. Have to stop. Time stretches as Sam updates me on her location. I tell her to drive in front of the bus and purposefully drive slowly, which might allow us time to catch up (do NOT try this!). It works. I hear the horn from the bus in the distance, angry with Sam for slowing it down. Half a mile back turns to a quarter mile and then, the glowing taillights and silhouette of a bus emerge in the night. The shadowy vehicle merges into the left lane, probably in an attempt to get away from Sam, the crazy lady driving so slow in front of him. Sam follows suit. The bus hits its brakes, pulls over, and stops. Because of Sam and her driving? No: The doors fly open and passengers step off onto the sidewalk at the bus stop.
James hits the gas and slides up behind the bus, I hop out and dash for its open door. It closes. Like a lunatic I am jumping up and down, calling for the driver to open the doors. Like a completely sane person, he drives away. I jump back in the car and we take off after it. James calmly driving, myself coordinating with Sam, and Arnold leaning his head against the center console curious as to the source of the chaos.
Another stop comes up and the bus pulls over, Sam stops in front of it and James stops on the side to sandwich it in. I run up to the doors and again they close in my face and I am shouting at the driver to please open the door. He looks at me with hesitation when I yell, "A homeless man has puppies on your bus! They are in a plastic container with the lid on and they could run out of air!!" To his credit, he opens the doors.
I step up and pay the fare. I don't know who I am looking for; I just know what Sam told me. There was a homeless man, with a cart of sorts, and in the cart was a large plastic Tupperware tub with a lid. Inside it were four puppies. My phone was in my pocket on speaker; I had called James before stepping on the bus so he could listen in and, if anything went wrong, could be ready to rescue me.
I look around to get my bearings, "Hey, don't bump into me," a man grumbles. "Sorry," I respond, unsure of my surroundings.
Then I see him. A young man with a motorized cart and a Tupperware container, which jostles from small creatures moving inside. He's thin, in secondhand clothes with brown moppish hair. I strike up a conversation. His thick Southern accent is friendly and reserved.
After a few minutes of small talk, I bring up what I do for a living and suggest we get off the bus to discuss how I can help his puppies. The bus stops and I help him make his way off.
By the time he and I hit the street James has already pulled over; I asked him to keep his distance until I needed him. Arnold sits in the passenger seat, intently monitoring his Mom's progress. A giant man and a giant pit bull/Great Dane have my back.
After no small amount of convincing and all the cash in my pocket, the man finally agrees to give me three of the puppies, but he says the last is already promised to someone. I ask him to contact me if he needs anything for the fourth. I had no desire to leave any of them, but I agreed ... as a starting point.
James hopped out to help me put them in the car, and before anyone can change their minds we drive away.
We pull into the parking lot of a local grocery store and Sam's car quickly appears beside us. Grabbing the three babies, who Arnold is already skeptical about (he likes being the baby), I step out of the car. Sam sets up a small area in her back seat for them.
James heads back to find the guy, armed with a little more cash (from Sam) and his convincing 6-foot-6 stature. This is for all the marbles, the last of the puppies. Luckily the young man hadn't moved far.
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James makes his case. "You aren't sure your friend is going to take this puppy. Tell you what: You give your friend some of the money I'm paying you, then he can pay the fee to rescue another dog from the shelter. Two dogs get saved." The man gives no rebuttal and relents. The puppy (who was far too small and not moving much) was handed over and soon settled in with James holding him, so tiny in the hands of a giant.
This was our action movie rescue. It is sort of ridiculous that it worked out. The young man could have said no; we could have given up; the bus driver could not have stopped ... and this list goes on. These are all the "what ifs" that haunt our lives.
I can't say how the man got the puppies. I can't say whether he really did have a home for Luke, our littlest angel. I can't say what would have happened if one aspect of this stranger-than-fiction rescue didn't work -- it would all be speculation.
What I can say is this rescue happened because Sam made a phone call. Because my husband didn't hesitate when I asked for his help. Because the bus driver believed a crazy woman in overalls at midnight. Because we gave it a try, four puppies now have a good shot at great lives in this world.
This should serve as an example to all those out there who say the pet overpopulation and shelter system is broken and it can't be fixed. This problem will never end, they say, so why bother with funding and aid?
If we do nothing, that is all true. If we do nothing. But, if we do everything we can, who can say what possibilities lie hidden in the fabric of fate? There was a time when the world was flat, when space was unreachable and when women were not allowed to vote.
One day perhaps we will include shelter death and pet overpopulation among the things that WERE, and enduring hope among the things that ARE. Thank you to WagAware for donating to these pups' rescue. And thank you in advance to so many villagers who might donate even a few dollars to help us care for this little family. We need all the help we can get.
Next: Kittens Rescued From Trash
The Xavier puppies are getting round-the-clock supervision at the vet and being treated for worms. We think they are about seven weeks old. To meet our action movie rescue pups, please check out their photos on Flickr. And share this story far and wide.
Annie Hart is the executive director of Bill Foundation Dog Rescue. Follow the Bill Foundation on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Twitter.