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August 31, 2010 > Ohlone Humane Society: Clayton makes his move

Ohlone Humane Society: Clayton makes his move

By Nancy Lyon

Working with a shelter you come across a pretty broad cross section of humanity... the good, the bad and the ugly. Overall, it can be pretty rewarding but there are those moments when your faith in humanity is shaken to its foundation. The question that is often heard is "how can people do this?"

One evening a few months ago when the weather was cold and wet, a small senior Pug was brought into a local veterinarian by a Good Samaritan who had found him cold and wet in a roadside ditch in rural Niles Canyon.

It was obvious that the poor old fellow was a "dump" as there was no lost report and he was severely disabled in his hind quarters and unable to walk... he couldn't have just "wandered off." Add to this that he was further disabled with a missing eye.

Given his age and condition, although a sweet old boy about 13-years-old, he wasn't exactly a prime adoption candidate. He was a love and the shelter agreed to hold on to him while we scrambled for options to save him. Local rescues were full and had no fosters available for a special needs, perhaps a hospice dog.

Plainly, we had to reach farther afield for responsible rescues that would consider taking on old and disabled animals. Brighthaven Sanctuary in Sebastopol and Healing Hearts Sanctuary in Utah were the first contacted to ask for assistance with "Mr. No Name", as he was to be posted on their websites. From there his predicament was broadcast over the Internet rescue network with the help of peninsula animal lover Barbara Kohn.

Rescuers responded from Washington State to Arizona and the right place for our boy... renamed "Clayton" was carefully considered and it was decided his best option was with Kati Koktavy a foster with Arizona Pug Rescue and Adoption Network.

The next big question was how to get him from the Bay Area to Arizona. One of the people that responded to the problem was Livermore-based Big Dawgz Rescue foster Cindy Smith. Cindy is a pilot and a very active rescue transporter with Pilots N Paws (PNP) an amazing nationwide nonprofit network of pilots who offer their time and airplanes free of charge to transport animals at risk to safety. Cindy put the word out and soon a response came from pilot Joe Radford a wonderful person who would be landing at Livermore Airport that week to do a transfer of a rescue dog to another PNP pilot heading north.

On the appointed day, my husband P.J. and I gathered up Clayton at the shelter and headed out to the airport to meet Cindy and the plane. Bad weather over the Sierras raised concern over the flight safety to Arizona but the sky appeared bright and clear as we waited for Joe to land.

As Joe's arrival time lengthened to a couple hours past schedule, Cindy was able to make contact and we learned his departure had been delayed from Southern California. As we waited on the tarmac the sky started to cloud over and we worried whether they would be able to leave.

When Joe finally arrived, with his other rescue dog riding co-pilot, he completed the transfer, and then refueled, by then flight safety to Arizona was in question. Joe and Cindy spent additional time pouring over computerized weather information searching for a safe flight path to Arizona. Having found a potential way through the storms Joe and Clayton took off. We were to learn that the plane had to turn back to Livermore when the weather worsened close to the mountains. The flight would have to be the following day weather permitting.

Mother Nature was kind and the next day they arrived safely at Deer Valley Airport in Arizona where Clayton met his future foster mom Kati who will probably hospice him for the rest of his life.

Kati later updated everyone on his progress, "Clayton so deserves to be loved and to feel safe. He is getting spoiled and loved on every day. It is interesting to see his personality develop as he gets more and more comfortable and as we work through things... you get so used to someone that relies on you 24/7 that it becomes part of you. He can get around much, much better than before, although he will always need a lot of assistance. I still want to get him a cart at some point since it is a struggle for him.

He is determined and can get from point A to point B pretty well when he wants. He gets carried around a lot and he is really getting attached and now insists on getting up on my lap when we watch TV at night, he will actually try to get up on his own. He loves to be outside and he likes to sit out in the sun on nice days. If he's in the house, he'll cry if you aren't in the same room or he can't see you, but he is getting better. I'm sure he's still insecure and doesn't want to be tossed away again."

As Clayton might tell it, "My foster mom has this really cool stroller that she puts me in and pushes me around, and everyone who meets me says things like, 'Oh how cute! Isn't he sweet!' and they say I am like a sweet, trusting teddy bear! I sure like all the attention. She said that APARN is getting me something called a Four Wheeled Cart! I can't wait for that to get here. She said it will give me lots of freedom to get around on my own."

No more Mr. No Name... we all need happy endings.

Pilots N Paws is great organization that can use your help. This year their goal is to transport 5,000 rescue/shelter animals to safety. Website:

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