On March 22 2004 while browsing the Petfinder shelter listings I found this picture of a dog scheduled to be euthanized within three hours. I was sitting at my computer...eight hundred miles away yet I was struck with the beauty and seeming inner peace and strength reflected in the eyes of this young, Newfoundland mix.
This was "Danny" as he sat in The Greene County Humane Society shelter...waiting to die. Just one more big black dog...no fancy coloring or other features...nothing special. This shelter located in Linton, Indiana has a staggering 85% "kill rate" and "Danny" was to be one more death as of 5PM. I immediately committed to save him. I called the shelter and also posted a plea for help within the Petfinders message boards. The shelter worker I spoke to seemed indifferent to my request for a postponement...I guaranteed his adoption and offered to pay all costs over the phone. Fortunately there is a young woman living in Greene County, Indiana named Lisa, operating a rescue organization called Midwest Friends of Animals who works tirelessly as the Guardian Angel for these helpless animals. I first spoke with her when she arrived at the Humane Society shelter hoping to stop not only Danny's death but several others scheduled for that day. With my assurance that I would adopt Danny, she managed to pull him from the shelter and have him placed in temporary foster care, until transport arrangements to our home in New York were completed. Immediately efforts began in the Petfinders Transport Boards and several other internet transport groups attempting to line up volunteers who would each drive a select portion of the needed distance. By Thursday it was apparent that despite several volunteers, there were gaps in the planned transport. So Maureen & I decided to drive to Indiana and pick him up. We also agreed to help transport two puppies from the Marion, Indiana shelter. On Friday March 26 we left Argyle, NY. Early Saturday evening we arrived in Brazil, Indiana picked up Danny from Lisa, stopped to pick up Arial & Isaac for their trip to Rhode Island then drove straight to Pittsburgh where we spent the night. Sunday we drove back to New York, stopping in Albany to meet Kristine who was helping to provide Arial & Isaac transport to their forever home. In 48 hours we had traveled 1,880 miles...and been a link in the chain that saved three wonderful companions. It was a great feeling.
"Danny", had only been named "Danny" for a few days...having been named by the shelter workers. We knew we would rename him, but it took seeing him to know what that name would be. The similarities to our beloved Scout were overwhelming...everything from his beautiful coat to his playful puppy-like nature. So it seemed altogether appropriate that the name would come, as Scout's did, from the Harper Lee novel "To Kill a Mockingbird". "Radley" ...named for the Arthur "Boo" Radley character... was our choice.
Radley has been neutered and micro-chipped. He's gained weight and muscle and is very athletic. When we adopted him he weighed 50 pounds...now 2 1/2 years later he weighs 99 pounds. Radley is very sweet, very affectionate and possesses a boundless energy; he loves to play ball and has become a pretty good walker. In the 2 1/2 years he has been with us I've only seen him sleep once. As he has matured he looks more and more like a flat coated retriever - Newfoundland mix.
The funniest dynamic of our pack involves Radley and Zack. In the year since Zack joined our family he has become the clear "Alpha" or leader of the entire six dog pack. Zack controls everything...including Radley. They really enjoy each other...romping and wrestling, but watching 17 pound Zack control 96 pound Radley is something to see. I'm sure Radley's sweet demeanor plays into to Zack's dominance.
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