Just plane fun…

What would you do if you had: A plane, free time, and a desire to be useful?

Studley has all of the above. For the past two months, he’s shared a gig with me that may be the most delightful volunteer job imaginable.

The network of animal rescue organizations is robust and highly organized. Large or small, the people involved are devoted to saving animals from terrible circumstances, and finding loving, safe, permanent homes.

Since becoming a foster dog momma, i’ve learned just how extensive this network is… Frantic pleas go up: “I need someone to drive to Carbunkle, Kentucky to pick up a new mom and her puppies.” “Is there anyone in Fleahaven, Connecticut that can pull this beauty from a kill-shelter before Monday?” “Can someone pick up a transport leg between Hoarkston, Indiana and Fartknocker, Illinois on Saturday?”

It turns out, there are also volunteer pilots who do specialty transport for animals that can’t tolerate ground transport – through Pilots and Paws. Studley decided that this was the definition of an exceptionally good reason to fly!

He checked the mission board for locations, and checked our calendar for availability. Weather was a factor, even though he’s rated to fly in crappy weather, it’s not as much fun. Complex multi-leg transport missions required coordination with other pilots. It took some work on his part, but it finally came together.

First mission in October was to pick up a Lab and her nine puppies. They were about 2 months old, and as squiggly as a bucket of octopii! And adorable!

Gracie's puppies

We met the woman with the rescue dogs at a small airport in Tennessee, and she immediately handed us two adorable, squirmy pups! Loading them in the plane presented a small challenge, but the crate full o’wiggle was safely in the back seat.

Pilot with paws

My job? Dog wrangler. Just ride shotgun, keep an eye on the critters, feed Studley snacks and scream “PUPPIES!” every few minutes…

gracie in flight

The little bits howled for the first few minutes of the flight, then settled down for a good snooze… Mom eventually got comfortable on a nest of blankets on the floor.

into the terminal

At the destination airport, our cargo got a good bit of attention. Workers provided a luggage cart to help get the dogs into the terminal. A passing pilot decided mom needed a good scritch behind the ears…

It was another month before the timing worked out for round two.

A momma Beagle and ten week-old puppies! Too small to touch, they were crated from pick up to hand off. As Studley says “about the size of biscuits”, they were all bellies, paws and stayed in a tiny fur ball the entire time.

Ashley and Pups

If you look at the grand challenge of abandoned animals? It’s overwhelming. You can’t save them all. It’s worth an effort to do what you can, though. Human or canine, there are many good creatures out there – and it simply feels good to contribute (even if i’m just ‘meat in a seat’ screaming “PUPPIES!” every ten minutes).

The network is powerful, and politically agnostic – a collection of strangers working together to solve a problem. More of this, please…


21 thoughts on “Just plane fun…

    • It makes for a very satisfying day! Studley loves to fly, but it’s far more enjoyable when he’s got the opportunity to do something useful… The plan is we’ll try to do this every month. Lucky? You betcha!

    • So many good people looking after so many lost critters. i am a fan of the organizations that trap/neuter as well. There’s no way to end this problem, but that’s going to the source.

  1. Brilliant, what a rewarding and kind thing to do. I don’t undertstand people abandoning pets when there are organisations that can help re-house them. It’s laziness at best, callousness at worst.

    And what a great situation for Studley to be in! Enjoy the “gig”!

    • Even better situation for me – i don’t have to do anything difficult, and i get to play with dogs! One of these days i’m going to have to learn to fly that plane, though. Well, at least be able to land it…

    • i’ll check out ‘thoughts’… i’m already in love with WeRateDogs! My life wouldn’t be nearly as pleasant without dogs…and the world wouldn’t be quite the same.

  2. My favorite aspect of this is the politically agnostic part. It gives me hope. And the Mr. had a plane? Dang. When do you get your pilot’s license? Glad to hear all this but I still think cats are superior. Sorry. Can we still be friends?

    • That also gives me hope. i became facebook friends with the woman who rescued Tank and have since learned that we carry polar opposite politics – but we agree that good animals deserve to be treated kindly. i can work with that… at least it’s a start.

      Studley got his pilots license when he was 16 – earned flying lessons working as a lineboy at a small airport. It’s expensive. i’m probably not going to get a full-up license… i can do basic communication and navigation, and have been working on visual flight observations so i could do it some day. Most likely, i’ll take a ‘pinch hitter’ class – just know how to land the plane in an emergency. That’s really all i need to be able to do…

      Cats vs Dogs: i think one of the reasons people carry this belief is that cats are so enigmatic, you can ascribe whatever motive and feelings you NEED for the cat. yes. we can be friends. you just haven’t met the right dog yet.

    • Flying is indeed an expensive endeavor! If you factor in annual maintenance costs (for a private plane, not a rental), it’s about $90/hour. Because he’s flying for a non-profit, he can deduct a portion of the fuel costs, and most of the airports also give a slight fuel discount. So in the end, it’s a slightly less expensive way to get in some flying time – and it’s a LOT of fun!

      i was delightfully surprised that there were no big messes, especially with the younger pups! Momma beagle did a good job of cleaning up after them, so the crate was in good shape when we did the hand off to the next pilot. She’s a good momma…

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