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The Lake News Online
  • Robbie's journey

  • The following story was submitted by Paul Rhodes, owner of Paws Place, Inc., an animal rescue and shelter in Rocky Mount. It’s the story of “Robbie” who was aptly renamed “Robbie Reprieve” and is written from a dog’s perspective by Rhodes.
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  • Editor’s Note: The following story was submitted by Paul Rhodes, owner of Paws Place, Inc., an animal rescue and shelter in Rocky Mount. It’s the story of “Robbie” who was aptly renamed “Robbie Reprieve” and is written from a dog’s perspective by Rhodes.
    Imagine this.
    One day I find myself in a Texas jail that humans call a holding facility. I don’t know why I’m here or what I did to be locked up. I’m hungry, cold and scared. What is going to happen to me in this place?
    I tried to listen to what the humans were saying, but I didn’t understand. I could hear so many of the other dogs yelling to let them out. After being there a few days, I noticed some of my colleagues being taken away never to return. I was starting to wonder, where are they going? When is it my turn to leave this place?
    I keep hearing the humans speaking about a deadline for this canine or that one. What was this deadline thing, and do I have one? Well, to make a long story short, I had heard that it was bad to have a deadline and that I had one — Jan. 1 at 5 p.m.
    As time went on, my senses told me this deadline thing was nearing. Then one day I heard a human speak my name and said today at 5 o’clock.
    Oh, no, the deadline thing. I sense something bad is going to happen to me, I just know it. I was a nervous wreck all day when all of a sudden I hear a human say “just got a call on Robbie, just minutes before his deadline.”
    Again, I didn’t know what to think, and worrying so much made me tired so I fell asleep. The next day — I was still scared — a human opened my jail cell and took me out and led me into a room with more humans.
    I could not stop shaking. At this time I hear this lady human say “so this is Robbie.” She put a leash on me and took me outside. She let me potty, then put me in a box and put the box in her car. She seemed like a nice lady, but I didn’t know if I could trust her or not. After a long time riding in the car, we stopped. She leashed me again and took me into a building that made me feel unsafe.
    The humans called this place “The Vet.” Let me tell you, I did not like it. Now, back in the car we are riding again. After being poked on, stuck and squeezed, I was tired and started to fall asleep.
    Page 2 of 4 - Then the car stopped moving again.
    I was leashed again and taken inside a house where I remained for many days with a different human lady. By this time, I had lost count of how many times I peed on myself. After a routine started to set in, I was again picked up by another human lady. She was real nice, and I had other canines to play with. They made me feel safe and I fit right in.
    Just about the time I started to make friends, a man human put me in another box they called a crate. After being walked on a leash here and there, put in a box off and on, going on rides to this place and that, being with this human or that one, I didn’t know what to expect anymore.
    All of a sudden, I hear a loud engine start up, but it didn’t sound like a car engine. Now what? Should I be nervous? Should I be scared? Should I be excited?
    Oh, no! I think we are moving. But this time, my stomach has never felt this way in a car! What’s happening? This doesn’t feel or sound like my car rides in the past. The monotonous sound of the engine made me sleepy, so I slept most of the trip. What woke me up felt like we hit something or ran over a big bump in the road. Something must have happened because we came to a stop and the engine quit. It was very quiet.
    A nice man human opened the door and let me out of that box. That was good because I needed to stretch my legs. A few days passed and the man human played with me, walked with me, and gave me food and water during this time. Just when I was getting used to him taking care of me, back in the box I went again for another ride. My experience this time was identical to a few days earlier. Except for one thing, when the engine stopped. I could hear other humans talking and they sounded happy with excited energy. They all took me out of the box and started kissing and hugging me. I think that I peed on myself again for good measure.
    As a young pup, what I have learned so far: It’s been one heck of a journey and the past 30 days have been crazy. So, at this point, I’m going to take a nap and let my new human owner finish the story.
     
    The rest of the story
    Well, as Robbie Reprieve said, what a month it’s been.
    Page 3 of 4 - Robbie was neutered Jan. 29, so hard telling what he might have to say about that experience.
    He was just minutes away from being euthanized in Tyler, Texas, when he was given a reprieve because of an adoption in faraway Eldon.
    After being cared for in two short-term foster homes — one in Sugar Land, Texas, and the other in Baytown, Texas — he caught a flight to Ellington, Mo., and then to Eldon where he is now safe for the rest of his life. Or until he gets adopted by a parent who wants to give him the love and care that he deserves forever.
    Paws Place owner Paul Rhodes says there’s an equally interesting side note to the story.
    The pilot (and owner of the plane) who flew Robbie Reprieve from Texas to Missouri is Don Hill, someone Rhodes had not seen or talked to in 32 years.
    “From the goodness of his heart, he unselfishly helped an old friend,” Rhodes said. “This story is the perfect example of true friendship at its highest, all in the welfare of one dog who could not have done it on his own.
    Rhodes said there is a network of people around the country interested in rescuing dogs from euthanization. These pet lovers communicate among themselves, trying to make connections for dogs to be adopted or moved to a foster home.
    Getting dogs from Texas is especially difficult because of stringent regulations, and Rhodes said dogs are often euthanized before arrangements can be made. In the case of Robbie, his hour of need was very narrow.
    Through the network, someone stepped forward to rescue Robbie and help make the connection to Rhodes hundreds of miles away. The difficult part, however, was figuring how to get Robbie transported from there to here.
    Thirty years ago, Rhodes made the acquaintance of a man named Don Hill in St. Louis. Rhodes and Hill were heavy equipment operators. Hill moved to Texas to avoid the harsh Midwest winters.
    “I lost contact with him,” Rhodes explained. “So, I started calling around the Houston area and finally found him on the Internet. The irony is, he tried to find me about a year ago, but didn’t.”
    The coincidence deepens when Rhodes learned that Hill’s daughter, who was born in Houston, is also deeply involved in animal rescues and encouraged her dad to get involved.
    “When I got a hold of Don, I didn’t know he was a pilot,” Rhodes said. “He owns a company called Pilots N Paws Pet Rescue Services.
    Rhodes said there are all kinds of heroes in the world, and he has the highest regard for the men and women who have sacrificed for this country. However, he sees a bit of heroism in what his long-time friend Don Hall did.
    Page 4 of 4 - “We see heroes on CNN, the veterans, the everyday heroes,” Rhodes said. “But here we’re talking about Don doing a heroic thing. And the twist is that the dog, Robbie Reprieve, never died.”
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