On April 16, 2011 we were invited to participate in Animal Rescue SuperHighway's award ceremony for their Koala Kids Club Poster Contest. This program introduces school age kids to the virtues of being kind to animals and animal abuse prevention. WTRF-TV coverage of the event is on the right.
In developing a presentation and recording a rehearsal CD, Ed "The Chauffeur" found he had recorded our complete story in 5 short audio tracks. Along with the introduction, the six audio files below are our story as prepared for the April 16, 2011 event in Steubenville, Ohio. Also, the rehearsal transcript of the presentation is provided at the bottom of this page.
Read a rare blog post by Ed "The Chauffeur" that tells the story about a great group of kids we met a few days later at Shenandoah National Park and how they rescued a dog when they got home to New Jersey.
(1) Hello. My name is Ed. This is Prospect; Prospect is my roommate, traveling companion, and best friend. And ever since Prospect successfully convinced me to be his personal driver throughout the Dog World so he can visit as many parks, experience as many places, and meet as many humans & dogs as possible, he simply calls me “The Chauffeur.”
We would like to thank Melanie for inviting us to be part of today’s events. With Animal Rescue SuperHighway, she’s doing a great job raising awareness about animal cruelty and educating the public that there is just “No Excuse for Animal Abuse.”
I believe animals experience the same set of emotions as humans. Dogs and animals respond similarly when treated mean, yelled at, or hopefully given proper attention and love. Now Prospect never thinks he gets enough good attention.. he is an attention hound. He made me promise today that I would help him get as much attention as possible. And return for a few extra treats he has promised to be really good at “shaking” and “high-fiving.”
-- Volunteer from crowd ---
(2) I want to continue talking about the benefits we humans can receive from animals, specifically dogs.
I was raised in a rural community. Farming, hunting, and outdoor activities were a large part of my childhood. My Dad and older brother taught me to respect wildlife and animals; that I should always make sure I never allow any animal to needlessly suffer.
Throughout my childhood we had dogs of various sorts; hunting dogs, outside dogs and house dogs. One of my earliest memories as a toddler is riding on the back of my Dad’s bird dog “Bandit” as my Dad led us around the yard like horse and rider. Somewhere there is a picture of me sharing an ice cream cone with Bandit.
Despite my close interactions with dogs, cats, and other animals growing up it was not until two years ago before I started to recognize fully the companionship and unconditional love that animals can provide.
Two years ago tomorrow (April 17, 2009) I met Prospect for the first time. As I’ve mentioned, I had always been around and liked dogs but as an adult never gave serious thought to having a pet. I always was too busy working long hours, putting myself through college & grad school, and advancing my career. I made little extra time for myself let alone time for properly training and caring for an animal.
But a few months before I met Prospect, my life had completely changed. Everything I thought HAD been important to me was gone and, though not by my choice, I had plenty of time in my life for a furry companion.
As I walked into an industrial St. Louis office late on a Friday, Prospect ran from behind the desk, greeted me, and changed my life forever. I learned he was a stray. If his human couldn’t be located that weekend the office staff was going to find him a good home (they had several dogs and couldn’t properly care for another long-term).
Over the next few days it was learned Prospect was micro-chipped from the humane society but his human did not want him back. Apparently Prospect had been rescued once, but that human was either unable or unwilling to fulfill the responsibilities of properly caring for a pet.
The following Wednesday I picked up Prospect and he became not only my roommate but eventually my best friend. We soon started exploring area parks and other places I wouldn’t have enjoyed otherwise. Challenges in my new life often found me driving several hundred miles each week; Prospect enjoyed the trips with me. And I enjoyed the trips more by having Prospect in the passenger seat.
I used to laugh at my sister when she wouldn’t stop at certain places because “they were not good spots for her dogs to get out and take a travel stop.” After meeting Prospect I soon found myself pondering the question: “Which stop would be best for Prospect?”
(3) After nearly a year together, Prospect & I decided we would start a website to help others find and share dog spots. Maybe we could help another human be comfortable in taking trips with their dog; whether an afternoon get-a-way or longer trip. Whether visiting a new park nearby or a travel stop along a vacation route, we wanted to help humans enjoy the same level of companionship with their dog that Prospect & I had.
That decision in February 2010 led to the creation of K9RoadTrip.com – a website for all dogs. Our slogan is “Every Dog Day is a Journey – Even at Home.” Whether going for a walk around the neighborhood, checking out a new park across town, or a longer trip we wanted to provide a resource for humans to know it’s ok to take the dog. And it IS ok to make sure the dog enjoy the trip too.
Along with our map where you can share your favorite dog spots, you can upload photos of your own dog journey, and read Prospect’s blog about his own explorations. A big piece of K9RoadTrip.com is the Stray & Rescue tab where you can find or share your favorite rescue organization.
In the past few months since we’ve officially launched K9RoadTrip.com, Prospect’s fans -- in addition to adding rescue organizations and dog spots on the map -- have sent us over 130 rescue organizations in 36 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and Mexico. We have added links to each of these organizations hoping the links facilitate just one more human-canine relationship.
(4) I hope our story inspires one more human to bring a dog into his/her life. I am living proof that when you provide a responsible, loving environment for a dog – that dog will give you more than you can ever give him. No matter what I do for Prospect, I will never be able to match the unconditional love, companionship, smiles, and laughs he provides me each day.
The past couple of years have been personally difficult for me – from reinventing my professional career to the death of my mother in a car accident last November; but, Prospect has been there each day to encourage me to get outside, get some exercise, try something new and experience a new place. Despite what difficulties or challenges I may be facing, Prospect helps me find the motivation to get through each day. And, when I find myself focused too much on things that aren’t really important he literally drags his leash over to my desk and reminds me it’s time for a break.
I am very grateful that two years ago tomorrow (April 17, 2009) Prospect and I crossed paths. I call him my “Helper Spirit” because he helps me focus on what is truly important in life, to appreciate my surroundings, and recognize the blessings I have in life.
Before I met Prospect I could not have imagined my life with a pet. Now I cannot imagine my life without Prospect, the opportunities we have, and the changed perspective he has given me. I’ve finally found someone that will enjoy all the road trips I’ve dreamed of making; and he doesn’t complain about my driving… too much.
To date, we’ve traveled about 50,000 miles together. Without Prospect I would not be enjoying the “trip.” With Prospect, I stop places I would never have stopped and met people & dogs I would never have met. Prospect has taught me a lesson my Mother tried to teach me: helping others brings a greater reward than anything else I can do.
In helping Prospect, I got my best friend. Along our travels we often find that when we offer assistance to others, we are typically receiving similar help within the same week.
(5) The number of rescued dogs we meet on the road lets us know kindness and generosity are all around us if we just look (I had to find it first from Prospect the Dog). Some of the rescued dogs I remember are Lucky from Pittsburgh who was rescued by a truck driver and we met at Texas rest area; Hank the Fort Smith beagle who had been a stray and was going to his forever home in Chicago; and Echo in Oklahoma City whose human gave us a place to sleep one night – an offer of assistance that was very insignificant at the time but turned out to be huge to Prospect and me. Because of that human’s generosity, we were better rested the next afternoon when we got the phone call about my Mother and had a 5 ½ hour drive to be with family.
Without Prospect I would never have been in the places to meet those dogs, their humans, and learn their stories; but because I have met those dogs and people I am a better person for experiencing the LOVE they live in their own lives and shared with us.
(6) And, just like humans, each dog has its own personality. Some dogs listen better than Prospect. Some dogs bark more than Prospect. Some dogs don’t like car rides as much as Prospect. Some dogs will be friendly to cats while Prospect will not tolerate any cat. That’s OK. Just like I enjoy different hobbies and activities than my brother, have a different personality, and look a little different, that makes me unique and gives me unique characteristics to share with my friends.
Prospect and every dog has a unique personality. And because of that each dog has something unique to offer. We humans have to have patience to look and find that uniqueness. Just like your friends cannot expect you to be someone you are not, we cannot expect dogs to be something they are not. But with love, patience, and understanding each one of us humans can benefit from knowing a dog, cat, or other animal.
If you think you’re too busy for a dog or pet, you’re probably correct. And from my experience I will say you are like I was: Focused on things in the world that are not as rewarding as helping others however you can.
Simple every day actions can make a big difference. A simple smile and hello to a stranger can be the best part of that person’s day. Helping a lost dog find a loving home can provide both that dog and other humans years of companionship and love they would not have known without your action. I am very thankful the staff of that trucking company were kind enough to provide Prospect a temporary home until we met.
If you consider bringing a dog or other pet into your own life, it is a long-term commitment for many years. The responsibilities aren’t always fun but they are required each day. Much like having children, we cannot ignore animals one day and enjoy them whenever we please. Picking up pet waste, cleaning gunk out of the ears, making sure a pet eats properly & stays healthy, and caring for a pet when it gets old are not necessarily the activities we think about when we consider getting a pet. But if you’re responsible in helping an animal enjoy life each day, I guarantee the daily joy you receive will be far greater than you could ever imagine.