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The Kerry Karavan: 520 miles, 12 hours, four vehicles, and two Kerries delivered to their new Forever Home


© 2014 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

Virginia Barishek and her beloved Kerries: Andy, Rosie and Finn. Andy crossed the Rainbow Bridge before Virginia, but Finn and Rosie needed new homes when Virginia found herself too ill to care for them. (Photo courtesy of Rich Knecht Photography

At some time in our lives we all think about what might happen to our Kerry when something catastrophic and debilitating happens to us, especially when there is no one in the family to take up the leash and provide affection and care for your darlings. This was the situation that Kerry owner and self-confessed obedience junky Virginia Barishek found herself in last October: her cancer had returned, she was going back into the hospital, and she strongly (and rightly) suspected that she would never return to her home and her two Kerries, Finn and Rosie.

Virginia lived by herself in downtown Philadelphia and those two Kerries were her family. Finn is 13 and never met a dog or person he did not like. Eleven year old Rosie, on the other hand, is a different story. She does not get along with other female dogs. Both have obedience titles and have been together for years. Keeping them together would be a dream that Virginia would have loved to have come true.

The path to finding them a new home started with Virigina's friend Evelyn Gansfussin New Jersey contacting her good friend and fellow Kerry owner Louise Lang in Ontario about Virginia's condition and concern for her Kerries. Louise turned to Linda Grisley, Rescue Director for the Canada KBTF. Linda put out a plea for help in placing Finn and Rosie in both the US and Canada.

But first they had to find the dogs: Virginia was in the hospital, no one could contact her, and no one seemed to know where the dogs were! The SPCA visited the house looking for the dogs; no one was home. There was no sign of the dogs.

Eventually they were found at Virginia's veterinarian's office. There was no one in the Philadelphia area to foster them, it was decided to leave them in the vet's care as they had settled down and were well cared for. Now that the Kerries were found, the search for a new forever home could begin. In one of those magic blessings of fate, Nancy Silveira was having dinner at Louise Lang's home in Ontario that evening. Nancy had lost her Kerry two years earlier; after listening to the story of Finn and Rosie, she decided the next day to open her home to them both! You probably heard the cheers on both sides of the border!

With a home found, the next question was how best to get two Kerries the 520 plus miles from Philadelphia PA to Toronto ON, which, of course, included crossing the border from the US to Canada. Plane travel would just be too complicated so another plea went out, this time from both Linda Grisley in Canada and US East Rescue Director Dianne Collins: "Help us get these Kerries to their new homes; we need transporters! Please, please, please help --drive a small part, drive a big part, but help us transport Virginia's "Babies" from Philadelphia to their new home in Toronto." (The pleading got really desperate as the stakes were high.)

Then magically, compassionately, thrillingly, a Kerry Karavan was formed. Four vehicles, seven people, over 520 miles, and 12 hours of driving later (not counting rest stops), Finn and Rosie jumped out of their travel crates and began kissing Nancy immediately. The rest is a happy history!

Here in their own words are the stories shared by those incredibly generous people who put their lives on hold to help transport two Kerries in need:

First Leg: Philadelphia to Scranton PA; 130 miles, 3.5 hours

Priscilla Harvey with Rosie and Finn at the vet's office, getting ready to start their long journey.

Priscilla Harvey who travelled with her friend and greyhound rescuer Karen:

With a zillion emails in place, the transport logistics were worked out. I was going south to outside of Philadelphia to pick up Finn and Rosie, then drive back north to my house to let them out for a break, then drive north to Scranton, PA. I located a Best Western very close to the exit for Scranton, PA and thought that would be a good parking lot to transfer them to the next driver.

The pickup at the vet's was scheduled for Friday, Nov. 15th. Arriving at the vet's office in the morning, I will always remember seeing "the couple" for the first time: those dear little Kerries were so excited...they knew an event was taking place. Way too cute! I have a Honda Odyssey which has a nice cargo space when all of the rear seats are down. We juggled the crates in right behind the front seats to make the dogs comfortable for the ride and, with wire crates, we could see each other easily. That left some nice space for the things the veterinary staff said were the Kerries' and were off to one side in the clinic. How much stuff could two Kerries have? It was probably some kind of record. Karen and I started hauling their belongings to the parking lot then went in for Finn and Rosie. Here came the traumatic part of the rescue: in his excitement at being outside, Finn pulled back and slipped his collar! I made a lunging tackle and had him in my arms. Pretty sure that took a year off my life. I held his squirming self while Karen got his collar back on and tightened it then we put the two in their crates. Next, we packed their accumulation of supplies, leaving a small crawl space to let them out later. We also had a box of emergency equipment like paper towels, water, etc., because I'd been warned that there was a nervous diarrhea possibility.

On the road Rosie seemed more at ease that Finn. After the first few miles, she sat down and stopped panting. Finn didn't relax that quickly and panted longer. As the trip went on, he did finally sit and only popped up from time to time. It was nice to see them and try to reassure them and they could almost touch each other. Because of the pressure of the timing for the next drivers, we only used a few minutes for a short break, and that's my one regret about the whole rescue: we both wish now that we could have played with them and hugged them more.

We had an easy exit in Scranton to the Best Western. Sandy and Larry Conklin had arrived only a few minutes before us. We unpacked my car and Finn and Rosie and repacked their car. A quick photo and they were off to return to Syracuse.

It was 285 miles and seven hours round trip for Karen and me. I am so grateful for everyone involved from a barrage of emails, paperwork, car-packing, driving, worrying, etc., but especially for the miracle of Finn and Rosie being able to stay together for the rest of their lives. I felt Virginia's hand in this and hope she's proud of us all.

Priscilla Harvey

Second Leg: Scranton PA to Syracuse NY; 130 miles, 3 hours

Larry & Sandy Conklin, with Rosie and Finn in their crates and ready to go.

Larry and Sandy Conklin:

There wasn't a lot of drama in our part of this adventure. Everything went so well, it was almost boring. We were a little concerned that the timing of the meet-ups might be hard to manage, but they went off without a hitch. At both ends of our link, both parties arrived within about a two minute window. Priscilla told us that one of the dogs had slipped his collar when they let the two of them out for a potty break so we didn't risk it--just transferred both dogs from one car to the other right in their crates. Finn got a little nervous and let out a couple of mild "lonesome wolf" cries but Sandy gave him some lovin' scratches and he settled down pretty quickly. By the time we got back on the road both of them were pretty settled in and never made a complaint all the way back to Syracuse. We let them out for a short walk about when we got to Syracuse, which went off without any problems. Transferred them to Brian's car around 3 PM and they were off again, this time to Canada.

Our only regret in the whole experience was that we didn't really get to know Finn and Rosie. They seem to be very nice and well-behaved dogs. Their final adopted owners are very lucky to have them I think. I'd expect that they probably adapted to their new home very quickly.

Larry & Sandy Conklin

Third Leg: Syracuse NY across the US Canada Border to Burlington Ontario; 210 miles, 4 hours

Brian Gibson with his Kerries Rosie and Keegan.

Brian Gibson:

When Linda Grisley sent out an email for assistance in placing Finn and Rosie, I knew that I had a full house at the time (2 – Kerry rescues and a Lab/Border Collie rescue) and my only way of helping was to get the word out and offer to assist in transport. I posted Linda's email on Facebook and the Kerry Blue Facebook page. We got great response from the Kerry Blue Facebook page and soon realized that many groups were aware of the situation and were trying to help. I had offered to travel to Philadelphia, PA to pick up the dogs and transport back to Toronto, but again the amazing people in this community come forward and we developed a transport chain starting in Philadelphia, next to Scranton, PA, then on to Syracuse, NY where I picked them up for the next leg to Burlington, ON. This where George Moad and the new owner Nancy would pick them up. The transport could not have gone any better, weather was perfect and the hand offs were timed to the minute so the dogs spent as little time as possible in transit.

My leg was uneventful to say the least. Finn and Rosie slept most of the way and only got excited when the Canada Customs officers decided to take a closer look. I have transported many rescues before and Finn and Rosie were by far the easiest I have done. Most of my previous transports were straight out of puppy mills and their condition was usually heartbreaking and disgusting. This was the first time I did not have to take my truck in to be cleaned after!! Although my days of adopting a rescue or even taking in fosters are over for the time being, I feel it necessary to do whatever I can to help with these rescues. I have had a Kerry for my entire life (in fact my Mother got her first Kerry in the 1930s) and I will always be loyal to these wonderful dogs.

Brian Gibson

Last Leg: Burlington to Toronto and the new forever home; 50 miles, 2 hours

At home with Nancy.

George Moad drove Nancy Silveira, the generous person who offered to give Finn and Rosie both a place in her home and heart.

Meeting Brian in Burlington ON in the early evening for the last leg of their long journey, upon being released from their crates Finn and Rosie stretched for a few moments until Nancy and George arrived. Here is Nancy's story:

I first saw Finn and Rosie from George's vehicle as we drove up: I had watery eyes when I first saw them. I opened the door while the car was still moving - I was so excited! It didn't even faze me to approach two dogs I had never met!! I went to my knees and said, "I am your mom now," Finn began licking my face while Rosie was more apprehensive but allowed me to scratch her bum.

After transferring the crates into George's car, the new family was off. Both of the Kerries settled nicely into their crates again while Nancy checked on them to ensure they were not in distress. Finn and Rosie quickly took over their new home: Nancy had bought them each lovely soft doggie beds, which they still visit from time to time but they adore a futon where the three of them (Finn, Rosie, and Nancy) can all watch TV together. Of course, being typical Kerries, they no longer sleep on the doggie beds but join Nancy in "their" queen sized bed!

They have become best friends with their neighbor Tresor, a 9 year old rescued apricot poodle and together all three of them love their walks. Both Kerries have snow boots and lovely "jackets" for the Toronto winter and seem to be very happy in their new home with all the new love and attention.

This beautiful success story was possible only because of dedicated rescue teams on both sides of the border, and the people who stepped forward to help organize logistics and transport Finn and Rosie to their new home. In the mileage you see above, remember that it was actually double that for the transporters, as they had to make a round trip to and from their own homes. But every one of them was excited about helping and should be very proud of their part in this rescue.

Rosie, Finn and their buddy, Tresor, walking in the snow.

Now that you have read their transport stories, you can see that it does not involve a great deal of time but it makes all the difference to those Kerries in need of our support and help. The KBTF has a special place for you to volunteer to be considered for a transporter if needed: the direct link to the KBTF Dog Transport can be found at here.

Take a moment and visit this site and sign up if you can find it in your heart to volunteer. Signing up does not mean you are required to transport if called, but just that you might be able to do so. It helps save time and panic when transport is needed—and can make a truly positive difference in the lives of a rescue Kerry.

I think Priscilla Harvey said it best when she said, "I felt Virginia's hand in all this and hope she's proud of us all." I have no doubt that she is very, very proud of every one who helped Finn and Rosie as they moved into this wonderful new life and very happy for her beloved Finn and Rosie. Cheers for all the volunteers who helped make this all happen.

Well done!

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Today is July 17, 2019

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