WE ALL NEED THESE HAPPY ENDING STORIES!!!
After FIVE YEARS in a rescue facility,
Tipper-Lab/Pit will be in his new home tonight!!!!!!!
It took him five years and nearly 2,000 miles, but Tipper is so close to getting a permanent home today that he can practically smell it.
The black Labrador retriever and pit bull mix is in the home stretch of an inspiring 1,985-mile journey that will have taken him from a struggling rescue organization in Arizona a week ago to the De Pere residence of Kurt and Connie Peters, where he'll be able to lay his head tonight.
And in the days and miles between, there were 18 people who volunteered to drive him cross-country and countless others who helped in other ways, all in an effort to give a very patient dog a long-overdue second chance.
Tipper's story begins at Maricopa County Animal Control in Mesa, Ariz., where he was first adopted six years ago. When his owner divorced a year later and couldn't find an apartment that would allow dogs, he was turned over to Robin Hood Animal Rescue, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization in Glendale that works to find homes for hard-to-place animals that might otherwise be euthanized.
For five years, Tipper has lived at the rescue facility. But when Robin Hood's two owners both recently lost their jobs and are now each in or near foreclosure, they've been forced to hustle to find homes for the 70 animals in their care. Enter Kurt Peters, a longtime animal lover who discovered a video link to a news story about the group on the Facebook page of a high school friend.
He watched it first, and then called his wife into the room to take a look.
"The guy was almost in tears over having to find homes for animals he had for five years,'' Kurt said. "It just pulled at my heartstrings. I just couldn't imagine waiting for five years for a home and then possibly being put down.''
That's when Kurt turned to Connie and said, " 'What do you think, honey? Do you think we could find out which dog has been there the longest and give that dog a home?' ''
The Peters had just lost one of their own dogs on Sept. 1. Their other two dogs, a black pit bull named Lakota and a Siberian husky named Miska, are both rescues. But before they considered adopting another they wanted to make sure it had a history of getting along well with other dogs.
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So Kurt called Robin Hood Rescue to find out which dog had been there the longest. He never thought to ask about breed.
"I didn't even know what kind of dog he was,'' he said. "I didn't care.''
He learned that a 6-year-old dog named Tipper had been there for five years, had a sweet disposition and got along well with other dogs. He did have one problem, however: He hates baths and having his nails trimmed.
"That's nothing new,'' Kurt told the man on the other end of the phone.
By the time he logged on to a Web site to see Tipper's picture, it was a done deal. But how to get him all the way from Arizona to Wisconsin?
Roads of Hope, an animal transport organization, with an assist from Dogtime.com, assembled a network of relay volunteers who agreed to drive Tipper on various legs of his trek through New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. On Oct. 3, his adventure began. In the days since, the Peters have received e-mail updates and photos on his whereabouts. His most recent virtual postcard had him visiting pigs on a farm in Nebraska, where he was spending several days with a foster family.
"This must be really exciting for him, meeting all these new people, seeing all these new places, meeting a cat for the first time, meeting a pig for the first time,'' Kurt said.
Tipper has even tolerated the addition of two Chihuahuas that hitched a ride in Santa Fe on the way to their own rescue.
At 10 p.m. today, he is expected to roll into De Pere, where the Peters can't wait to welcome him. They went to the city of De Pere to get the proper variance that allows a resident to have more than two dogs, have personally talked to their neighbors and plan to introduce their new canine family on neutral territory to ensure nobody is overwhelmed.
As excited as he is to meet Tipper, Kurt, who has been rescuing animals since he was a kid, wishes there was more he could do for the 41 animals at the 5-year-old Robin Hood Rescue that still need to find homes before the impending foreclosure.
"I'm one of those bleeding-heart types,'' he said. "I love animals. If I could save a lot more, I would.''
Tipper is expected to join his new family in De Pere tonight after spending five years in an Arizona rescue facility. S