Welcome to Arizona, Carter

Sharon Flores and her foster dog Carter after his haircut

Sharon Flores and her foster dog Carter after his haircut

Jan Bobbett

Here is a true story with a Sun Lakes connection, and I’ll tell you right now, it has a somber beginning but a happy ending. It’s about those golden retrievers so many of us love.

Nearly all dogs in China either start as pets or are sent to the slaughterhouse, or both. Dog meat there is a delicacy, so goldens are highly sought after both for their meat and for their pelts.

Most dogs that are slaughterhouse-bound are tortured to death by clubbing or some other gruesome means. Some in China believe that the meat is more tender and medicinal if the dog has a lot of adrenaline in its system at the time of death. Sure enough, brutal deaths would force adrenaline to surge through the system, but we probably would agree that that doesn’t excuse it.

As you can see, this is a desperate situation for dogs. Still, a few lucky dogs do escape or are somehow rescued. In the case of these dogs from China, the goal was to save them from the slaughterhouse truck, keep them alive, and get them all the way to Phoenix area homes.

Blessings to those volunteers who care for dogs in China and throughout the world. We know the need is great, as are the challenges. For example, in China, volunteers have tried to keep fresh water for goldens and other dogs, but it often freezes at night.

Those lucky dogs that are rescued are taken care of by volunteers, some of whom are doctors. As in this country, volunteers at the group shelters or individual homes share love, kindness, and life-saving skills with the dogs. Besides keeping them alive, they try to prepare the rescues for their upcoming journey. This step of their rescue involves moving the group of dogs from where they were rescued to get them aboard a flight to Beijing.

No matter what kind of shelter or safe home, quarantine is required for travel outside of China  — typically a process taking six to twelve weeks. Following the quarantine, the dogs were readied for a second flight — from Beijing to Los Angeles.

All of the dogs and also a volunteer travelling companion boarded the flight. Each of the dogs had its very own kennel for this leg of the journey — as well as disposable mat, a bottle of water, required paperwork, and a passport. There was also some time to enjoy the attention of other passengers during a layover. They had layovers just like those for people. Such a long flight plus a four-hour layover!

After arriving in Los Angeles, there was a night in a hotel with small amounts of food every two hours. From L.A., they travelled eight hours to their next temporary home, which was in the Phoenix area. There they discovered a yard to run in, fresh water whenever needed, and a welcoming family — not the forever family, but one that was happy to be a link in this amazing journey.

Don’t you wonder what the dogs were thinking? Don’t YOU wonder how big a risk these dog rescuers were taking?

The experience described here started over a year ago with saving a single golden from its demise in China. This year, eight more were saved. Carter is one of those lucky eight. Thanks to Sharon and everyone else in Arizona Golden Rescue.

Altogether, the trip covered over 7,000 miles and involved untold volunteer — saviors and supporters. By the time you read this, all eight goldens are in their forever homes in the Phoenix area.

This is not a solicitation, but many of us who are golden fans appreciate the dedication of these volunteers and understand the love, courage, and expense involved. Remember that name: Arizona Golden Rescue.