A Glade couple do what they can for critters
By JIM ARBER
For The Vista
It’s 8 P.M. on Friday, January 27th. It’s cold, dark with a light dusting of snow on the ground. Not a real cheerful setting for the start of a long road trip.
Nevertheless, our fearless travelers are ready and anxious to “get it on.” Fairfield Glade residents Ricky and Dawniel Kendall are among the many volunteers for AARF and have just arrived in Cookeville from whence they will travel up the pike to the Chicago, IL area.
They rendezvoused with Ariel Marengo at her home at precisely the designated time 8:00PM. Ariel Marengo is part of the driving force of loving humans that helps make AARF and the Freedom Ride program the successful and important organization it has become over the years.
So, just what is AARF? It stands for: “All About Rescue and Fixin”. Their main objective is to relocate Pooches and Kitties to another part of our country where they stand a better chance of being adopted. Absent AARF, euthanasia here would be unavoidable as their time limit for adoption would have run out. It should be noted that the euthanization rate for our area has gone down from 90% to 10% largely because of AARF.
So just where do Ricky and Dawniel fit in? These two intrepid folks volunteered to transport a truck load of doomed critters to an area where they will be welcome and have that high probability of adoption.
The Kendall’s number came up and here they are in Cookeville ready to head north with a truck load of Dogs and Cats. Yes, it is a truckload. AARF owns a van that is wrapped in yellow with pictures of loveable dogs and cats all over the thing. For this trip the AARF van is loaded to the max with 56 dogs and 25 cats all in their separate cages. The cargo area is stacked to the roof with nervous critters. No, they aren’t real happy but then dogs and cats just can’t get a handle on the big picture.
So, off they go. The trip will take 11 hours up and then another 11 hours home. No, not exactly a joy ride but then the mission they were on made all the difference. There was a little snow on the road, a little wind and — most important because ot the time of day — very little traffic. The trip up proved to be uneventful and easy, but still a long and tiring ride.
The animals were an OK bunch. The dogs mostly slept and the kitties meowed a lot until they gave it up and went to sleep as well. As you can imagine, the fragrance got a little more pronounced as the trip progressed. Most of the passengers slept but still … stuff happens. After awhile Rick and Dawniel thought maybe their olfactories just gave in and stopped working.
Up the Interstate, over the rivers and through the bridges they managed to arrive at their destination at 6:30 A.M., right on time. They had to as a team of volunteers had been waiting since 5 A.M. getting ready to process the little critters. What a team it was. They were like a well-oiled machine.
The facility itself was amazing. Absolutely no kennel smell, instead it simply smelled clean and fresh. The crates got unloaded and the volunteers unloaded the guys and gals from their crates. The big dogs were beyond happy to get out and stretch. They all got a bath (they needed it) and they all got a little health check and brushed. The cats received a little bell around their necks and the confused doggies each got a little scarf. Guess that made them feel a little better … dogs and cats can be a little vain.
The paper work for a transfer like this must be precise. The folks at the animal shelters here are extremely good, efficient — and everything went smooth like silk. After many hours the transfer was complete and the Kendalls were “on the road again”.
Dawniel had never seen Lake Michigan. Since the trip back was not on a strict timetable they took a small side trip to the shores of Lake Michigan.
As you can imagine, the Lake Michigan shore in January is not a vacation or leisure destination. They had the beach to themselves. Problem is, it was so cold they could only stay for a very short time. Not only that, they may have been on someone’s private road. It should be remembered that they were in an AARF truck with pictures of cute Pooches and Kitties all over it. Who, I ask you, could bust a couple driving a truck like that?
The way home was as easy as the way up except it smelled a little different. A stop at the Purdue campus for lunch, couple of pit stops and they were back home. Tired, very tired, but with that satisfying feeling that they truly did something extra nice.
Thanks to Ricky, Dawniel, Ariel Marengo, Star Amador and all the many volunteers that comprise AARF which is a totally volunteer organization. You have wonderfully big hearts for our loveable animal friends and they need it.
You should know that AARF has their annual Fund Raiser on June 24. They are looking for sponsors, volunteers and donations for this, their 10th year anniversary.
For more information about AARF or to help go to their website: www.aarf-tn.com or call Ariel Marengo at 931-510-8638.
Jim Arber is a freelance writer living in Cumberland County. Comments can go to: [email protected]