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Long and winding road comes to end

Posted: July 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Michelle Sathe, right, and Kara, her “Pit Stops” pit bull ambassador, returned from their national book tour to the Santa Clarita Valley on July 23. Kara was happily reunited with her foster, now adoptive, mother, Kyle Harris, left, of Canyon Country.

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It was time for the part of our trip that I enjoy least: making up the many miles across the Midwest. This required a lot of caffeine and good music. Still, once the first few hundred miles went by and the caffeine buzz wore off, it became a test of will. Watching the GPS, I’d note, OK, we’re halfway through, only 250, 200, 150, 100 miles to go. ... I can do that ... can’t I?

I’d look at Kara, snoozing peacefully, her little pink snout on the console, her breath on my forearm, with envy, because I too wanted to nap, as well as with gratitude for being such a trouper.

All she required was a potty and fetch break every 100 miles or so.

I’d pat Kara’s booty or rub her soft golden fur whenever I felt a little crazy from the endless asphalt. Instant stress relief.
Our last book-signing was June 23, at the Nevada Humane Society in Reno. It was our most successful event to date, and the staff/volunteers could not have been nicer.

I will write about this incredible, open-door/no-kill shelter in “Pit Stops 2.”

While many rescues are no-kill — meaning they select which animals come into a facility and set a limit of how many they can accept —  there are very few organizations that take every animal coming through the door (hence the open-door reference).

Nevada Humane Society does this by working with Reno Animal Care and Control, located next door, plus engaging a dedicated staff and passionate volunteers who work relentlessly to adopt its animals into homes.

We met many wonderful animals there, but one sticks in my mind.

His name is Cyrus, and he’s a sweet, handsome, deaf, black-and-white pit bull who’s been there 25 months, making him the longest-term canine resident at the place.

Cyrus was adopted once but returned when his new person couldn’t deal with the requirements of a deaf dog. Really, all it takes is a little human training.

Cyrus would make a wonderful companion for a patient person willing to put in the time. (You can help Cyrus by liking his Facebook page — “Find Cyrus His Forever Home” — and networking him).

On our way back home to California, I reflected on my journey with Kara. This trip was very different for me than the first Pit Stops trek with Loren.

The first time, I was a naïve new advocate who thought crossing the country with a sweet pit bull and passing out postcards would put an end to the problem facing these dogs.

Ha. I only opened a Pandora’s Box that made me realize just how complex and sad the reality is.

So when I set out with Kara some two years later, I was jaded, a bit burnt out and, at times, depressed.

Sure, I’d had some success stories with placing needy pit bulls and other dogs into homes following Loren, but I knew many, many more died than were saved.

It broke my heart. It made me feel quite helpless.

It made me hate people, actually.

For the first week on this book tour, I thought, “What am I doing? None of it makes a difference. It’s all a drop in the bucket.”

Then I met Ben of the Santa Fe Humane Society; Ashley of Lucky Dog Rescue; Erica of Dolly’s Foundation; Nichole and Aaron of Mended Hearts; Rae and JR of Carolina Care Bullies; Jen Carle, Pamela Black Townsend and Ashley Ferrell of BARCS; Eric and Kate of the Baltimore Bully Crew; Cynthia, Anisha and Ally of Safe Humane Chicago; Danyelle, Monica and Shirlene of Idaho Falls Animal Shelter; Julie of Boise Bully Breed Rescue, and all of their wonderful volunteers and supporters.

I reunited with Traci, Charlotte and Victoria of Animal Rescue New Orleans, Nina of Indy Pit Crew, Rebecca and Abby of Western Pennyslvania Humane Society and Daisy and Amy of Hello Bully.

We also met some passionate new advocates that work tirelessly, selflessly on each organization’s behalf. Every one of these people gave me something priceless. Hope. Inspiration. Laughter. Insight.

The will and vision to carry on.

When I’m sad or even despondent about the state of the animal world, I know I only have to reach out and they’ll be there. They are the most beautiful souls I’ve ever met and I’m proud to call them my friends.

As for Kara, her story has a happy ending. She was officially adopted by her foster family, the Harrises of Canyon Country.

Kyle Harris is a long-term foster and volunteer for Castaic Shelter. In Kara’s absence, Kyle decided she couldn’t live without her (and I don’t blame Kyle one bit. Kara is an amazingly sweet, good-natured dog).

Kara will be trained as a Canine Good Citizen, and become a therapy dog, a role in which I know she’ll shine.

Aunt Michelle is always welcome to visit, too.

Michelle Sathe and Kara, a rescue pit bull-mix, have traveled cross country and back visiting various shelters and rescue organizations along the way.

For more information on Sathe’s and Kara’s journey visit http://blog.pitstopsbook.com. For information on the book “Pit Stops” visit /www.pitstopsbook.com.

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