Lou Dillon Rescue- Part Two
We have broken this story into three parts because it is pretty long. This is Part Two of Three
If you haven’t read the first part of this story, please be sure to read Lou Dillon Rescue- Part One first!
The day dawned sunny and warm when we were scheduled to pick up Lou Dillon. We were considering waiting until the weekend to pick him up, but it was supposed to rain very hard, and after our previous communication issues with the shelter, we thought it best that we picked him up sooner rather than later.
The day crew was out when I got down there- they promised to get Lou Dillon’s stall ready with fluffy shavings and clean his waterer and feeder. Everything seemed to be going well- we put new hay and shavings in the trailer and made sure there was a breakaway traveling halter ready. I hooked up the trailer and we headed out to pick up the horses.
Except we didn’t. Head out, that is. For some reason, the electric brake wasn’t registering from the trailer. I tried cleaning out the connectors, but nothing seemed to work. I decided to drive to the nearest gas station about mile away- I needed gas, anyway, and decided to see if maybe we could use the air compressor to blow out any dirt that might prevent a good connection. We stopped, got gas, and used the air compressor. Still, nothing. There was no way I could trailer a horse safely without the electric brake. My wonderful morning where everything was going so well seemed to be disintegrating.
The simplest answer would be to take our other trailer, but unfortunately, our neighbors had previously complained about both trailers being on the street and requested that one be moved up onto the property. We had explained that when it rained, our driveway was impassable, and the trailer would be stuck up there. They didn’t really care- and our concern that our trailer would be stuck up there is exactly what happened. Realizing that retrieving our second trailer was not an option, I called a friend and asked him if we could use his trailer.
I have to say that our horse community is an incredibly caring, giving group of people. Without missing a beat, he offered to let us use his trailer, and said that he and his wife could be there in 20 minutes to meet us. Just… awesome people.
As I began driving back home, however- a minor miracle. The electric brake finally started working. I was a bit circumspect at first- after all, it is a safety issue if the brake stops working, but it seemed fine for some reason. I think it was the universe testing to see if we would do the right thing , and when we passed, it decided to cut us a break. In any case, I called my friend back, told him we were OK, and we drove up to L.A. to rescue Lou Dillon.
The electric brake worked the entire time, by the way, so you can continue to read without worrying that there is some terrible accident. This story ends happily.
I was thankful that I did not have to navigate- Kathi, our social media coordinator who came with me, navigated the route, and I swear I have never gotten up to L.A. in such a short amount of time. We pulled into the shelter a few minutes earlier than we anticipated, even with the brake issue.
The shelter is hidden back off the main road on a small, pitted driveway behind several old garages that looked like they had been built sometime in the early part of the 20th century. Most of them appeared to have been garages for car mechanics in the Truman Era. I thought that we were on the wrong street, actually, for a moment, but a sign indicated that the rescue was up ahead. When I pulled up, I wasn’t sure where to park, so I pulled up alongside of the shelter and parked so I wasn’t blocking the driveway. We texted one of the volunteers, and walked up, but weren’t sure exactly who to talk to.
The place was packed with people. There were kids running around, yanking small, understanding dogs on leashes around the front. A few people were holding dogs. I saw one woman with what looked like a Maltese mix- just holding the poor dog against her with one hand, with the dog’s legs dangling. The dog looked like he hadn’t had a bath in a very long time, but he was limp in her arms, as if he no longer even had the will to struggle. I had naively expected the place to be a bit larger, and laid out so I wouldn’t have to deal with the dog and cat area, as I knew that would be difficult emotionally for me. I hadn’t heard from the volunteer who we had been in contact with that week, and I wanted to move the truck and trailer so it would be a bit out of the way, so we walked back out and I pulled the truck into the nearby parking lot to turn it around.
The parking lot turned out to be part of a truck driving school, so I had plenty of room. There were cones set up, and I have to admit I did hit a cone- although I didn’t knock it over- so I figured I passed. I pulled back up near the shelter, but more out of the way, and we walked back up to the shelter.
The shelter works off of a ticket system, similar to the post office- you have to pull a ticket to talk with someone. I had hoped that all of the paperwork would have been done since I had let them know I was coming- and the time I was coming. Unfortunately, this was not the case. We pulled a ticket- we were number 50, and they were on number 35- and the volunteer came up and met us. We went back to see Lou Dillon.
The horse area is back through the area with the dogs, and the noise was difficult to tune out. I tried not to look at the sad faces of the dogs that were waiting for their forever owner, and instead tried to focus on the reason I was there- to pick up a horse.
The horse area was small, but well put together, with in-and-out stalls (a fully covered barn stall with an open area as well) and plenty of shavings. We walked up to the horses, and were met by the lieutenant of the shelter as well as the officer who helped rescue Lou Dillon. He was thin from months of neglect but obviously the shelter volunteers had brushed him and cleaned him up. His feet were not as bad as I feared, and he seemed very sweet, if a little shy. We also met the little Quarter horse who apparently had made an instant bond with Lou Dillon, and we were going to take her too, right?
“Um… right,” I murmured, and didn’t look over at Kathi. The paddock we prepared for Lou Dillon was big enough for two horses. And I had a two-horse trailer, after all.
There was another horse at the shelter as well, a very cute little chestnut who had probably been charroed, and whose favorite past time was trying to bite and kick the shelter volunteers. “I want the sweet one,” I reminded them. “I have enough crazy ones at home.” They told me that the chestnut was going to the shelter in Agoura, where they had some trainers who could possibly help him.
At this point, I just wanted to put the horses in the trailer and go home. Unfortunately, we ended up waiting for an additional hour at the shelter, just standing at the front, waiting for our number to be called. I had to stand up there so I could be present when our number came up while Kathi stayed behind to bond with Lou Dillon. It took forever, probably because I watched more poor dogs come up as people relinquished them. A tattered terrier mix, not understanding why his family was leaving and he was being taken back to a pen in the shelter. A tiny Chihuahua, shaking and still dressed in a little red coat, being handed over. The shelter dogs began barking frantically in the back when he was being carried back. I wanted to tell everyone to just give me their dogs and I would find them homes, but unfortunately that was not possible on so many levels.
Now, I am not trying to bash the shelter at all- they provide an obviously necessary service, and the dogs who were there were clean and fed. It just made me sad to see so many animals in need and not be able to really do much for them. If you are looking for a dog, please, please, please go to a shelter or rescue and adopt one. There are so many lovely animals who are in need!
As I stood, forcing myself not to grab the dogs from those people who were relinquishing them, I talked with the volunteer at the shelter and the officer. Finally- FINALLY- our number came up, and we were helped. I completed the paperwork , and the officer paid the shelter fee for Lou Dillon, and the volunteer paid the shelter fee for “Estrella,” the horse who had bonded with Lou Dillon. This was a wonderful surprise, and we were very appreciative! All of the paperwork completed, we went back to pick them up, only to be told that we couldn’t get them for another 15 minutes because we needed a specialized officer to review their exit. The idea is to make sure that the people get the correct dog or cat they are supposed to be adopting, but I mean, really- there are only three horses, and we were taking two of them. I noted, however, that the timing was fine- it would take me a few minutes to get the truck backed up into the area with the horses, anyway.
I really needed the truck driving school at this point- I had to pull into the driveway, then back into the small area where the horses were. It took me a few minutes, but I finally had the trailer backed up to the horse area, and opened the trailer and made everything ready. The officer was there to make sure we were taking the correct horses, and we were ready to go.
Although the shelter offered to let the horses go with their halters, I always like to trailer with breakaway or leather halters for safety. I knew that the shelter probably needed their halters for emergencies as well. I always carry a few extra breakaway halters in the trailer, and we put one on Lou Dillon and one on “Estrella” and took the horses out of their stalls- Lou Dillon first, with “Estrella” behind- she was pretty upset when he got too far away, so we made sure they both came out at pretty much the same time.
This was actually the moment I had dreaded all morning- what would happen if Lou Dillon didn’t load? How long would I have to be there trying to get him into the trailer? I held my breath as I walked up to the trailer.
And… he walked right in.
OK, one down, one to go.
Lou Dillon and “Estrella” began yelling to each other at this point.
“Where are you?”
“I’m here! They’re kidnapping me!”
“I can’t see you!”
“I’m right here!”
Thankfully amidst all of this, “Estrella” walked right in as well, and they began talking to each other a little less noisily. They were both a little nervous, but they had plenty of food in front of them, and we closed up the trailer.
Unfortunately, the little chestnut was not happy with Lou Dillon and “Estrella” leaving, and began screaming and running around in his stall. The volunteer told us that he later calmed down, but it was difficult to see him so upset.
In addition to paying for Lou Dillon’s shelter fee, the officer also gave us some grain for him, and a promise to come out and see him. We pulled out, hoping that it was still early enough that we would miss rush-hour traffic, and headed home.
Kathi was relatively quiet, navigating our way back to the freeway. We talked about the fact that we were heading home with two horses instead of one.
“Well, we have a two-horse trailer,” I reminded her.
“What are we going to tell Lori?” she asked. Lori is our treasurer, and one of the original board members of Hanaeleh. She is often concerned about boring yet pragmatic issues like money. Thankfully the community had been very kind with donations to Lou Dillon, and I was sure that his care was covered so we would be able to take “Estrella” without a problem.
“Really, this is your fault,” I told her. “It’s not like you don’t know me. What did you guys really think would happen when they said there was another horse who needed a home?”
“True,” she acknowledged.
“Just feel lucky that we didn’t borrow Dave’s trailer,” I laughed. “That’s a three-horse trailer.”
It took her most of the trip back, but she crafted a text to Lori, breaking the news.
“She’s not going to be surprised,” I said. “But I’m still blaming you.”
Lori was not surprised; she’s known me a long time. I’m sure she just mentally shrugged and rolled her eyes.
“She’s very sweet,” Kathi said, talking about “Estrella.” “Are you going to keep her name?”
“I don’t particularly care for ‘Estrella’,” I said. I thought for several minutes. “How about Sweet Pea?” I suggested, on account that she was so sweet and all.
Kathi agreed, and that was that.
I looked out the rearview mirror at the trailer- Lou Dillon kept sticking his nose through the trailer window bars and flapped his lips, trying to taste the wind. I wished that I weren’t driving so I could take a video, but, alas, I needed both hands to drive. It was still fun to watch him, however, and know that he was finally with us and he was safe.
There were a few slow areas on the freeway, but we still got back down to Orange County in record time, both horses safely in tow.