We featured Slinky and all of her many names (Slanken, Slinks, Sausages, Snaussie, Slankadoo...) in a post we had hoped would find her that one in a million home where she'd be able to meet all of her sausagey potential. It took a little longer and worked out a little differently than we'd originally thought, but the sausage has landed somewhere amazing that she will be able to call home at least until she's ready for the next step in her journey!
We will be forever thankful that Best Friends Animal Society was able to take Slinky into their program, offer her their expertise and experience, and put her on the path to being adopted by someone who will love and appreciate her for all of her silly, wonderful, sausageyness.
What follows is a photo journal of Slinky's last week as an APA! dog. Just like Slanken, her journey has many names...The Sausage Liberation Front, Mission Save Slinky, A Sausage Goes to Utah, A Weenie Crosses the Desert, Team Snausage Freedom...you get the idea. The most important thing is that the journey has a happy ending and a bright future!
In the days before Slinky hit the road to Utah, hope had begun to seep out of the meetings we were having about our sausage girl. It was not for lack of love, or trying, or fighting on her behalf.
APA! is an incredible organization that saves a lot of lives. We have even become adept at saving extraordinary medical cases and challenging behavior cases. But we are still a young organization with limited resources, and some behavior challenges fall outside the realm of what we are able to truly support and safely adopt into the community. We hope and work hard for the day when that isn't the case but Slinky is an example of a dog whose needs we couldn't meet without support.
Just like one of the crazy movie cliches, "It's always darkest before the dawn," or "Help comes when you least expect it," we got a phone call that Slinky had been accepted into the program at Best Friends.
Before the shock had even worn off, we put together The Sausage Liberation Front road trip crew and were ready to leave just a handful of days later to take our girl to her new life in Utah! Her final slumber party at my house was a much happier occasion.
Slanken hopped into the car like she owned the place and was ready to hit the road! She dined on goldfish crackers, decimated her new rainbow toy, put lots of doggie nose prints on the windows, and eventually settled in for a nap.
Her very first road trip stop was a picnic in West Texas. It was also the first time where, moments after this photo was taken, we were reminded why we were making the journey to Best Friends. Slinky must have overheard us laughing that Best Friends would send us back when they saw this perfect, cuddly weenie dog that we brought with us. Slank wanted to give us a little reminder lest we get too big for our britches.
After a little walkin', some "let's be friends" goldfish, and some well-timed distraction, Slanken settled back in to road trip nap mode. She aaaaalmost made it all the way to the lovely Desert Aire hotel in Alamogordo, NM where we'd be spending the first night.
Somewhere around Cloudcroft, NM, the elevation got to her and her floppy weenie ears started popping. It was a long, peanut butter and uh-oh filled last few miles through the beautiful forest of Cloudcroft. Sadly, peanut butter covered, sausage wrangling fingers were not able to take any photos of beautiful Cloudcroft, NM. And certain other passengers could not move in order to take photos for reasons very clear to all in the car. But it really was beautiful! We promise!
Slanken got an excellent evening walk, complete with thunderstorm, in Alamogordo, NM, a great night snuggled sleepily under the covers with her Sam, breakfast, and yet another walk in the morning, before heading over to start the day at White Sands, NM. White Sands was absolutely beautiful and Slinky had an awesome time exploring the new landscape!
We sniffed far & wide.
Did LOTS of frolicking!
Got some crazy on-leash zoomies!
And even snuggled in the sand.
Then, she went exploring some more with her Sam.
And we took the official photo for "A Sausage in the Desert."
Slanken then promptly settled down for a road trip nap.
In fact, we discovered an awesome Slanken routine for road trip day 2 called, "FROLIC! NAP! FROLIC! NAP!"
After White Sands, we noticed a place on the map called Valley of the Fires and decided it sounded like a perfect spot for some more frolicking. It's called that because of the nifty black rocks left behind from a volcano eruption many moons ago.
Slanken was pleased. She is fiery.
After a hearty dose of frolicking, Slanken curled up to nap again on her Sam. (See the pattern?)
I believe this may also have been the stretch of the trip where Snaussie sharked down the rest of the goldfish. Mary and her fingers would remember.
Next, we noticed something on the map called the Petrified Forest. This is a place filled with petrified logs and tree remnants dating back to the triassic. Who doesn't want to frolic with dinosaur wood, right?!
Slanken sniffed the dino wood.
She paused to commune with her inner T-Rex.
She tasted the triassic in the air.
And she felt pleased again. Like queen of the triassic tree stump. Snaussie-Rex.
On the way back to the car, she contemplated a pee on Rexy's turf.
Then she settled back in for more nap time.
When she woke up, we were in a new state!
We quickly discovered that the doggie restroom accommodations in our new state were very treacherous.
We decided to take a reprieve from frolicking pit stops for a bit and take some moving vehicle photos. Slanken helped by adding nose prints. We started hitting some crazy elevation again (remember Cloudcroft, NM?) and Slanken's little ears were feeling the effects.
The atmosphere in the car began to feel a little dicey and we decided to pull off for some emergency frolicking at what we thought was a dusty little rest stop next to some random bridge. Sam & I hopped out with Slinky and walked over to the bridge...smack into the north rim of the grand canyon.
It was magical. All of those adjectives guide books probably use when describing the grand canyon...breathtaking, awe-inspiring, humbling...and all the more incredible because we had absolutely no idea it was even there. And because Slinky had found it for us. We would probably have not even stopped were it not for a special little sausage and her poppy, ouchy ears.
Slanken was pleased again. She couldn't believe the silly humans had almost driven right by the big canyon place! It had the very best frolicking! Thank you, Slanken!
Having accomplished epic frolicking, our Snaussie settled back in for another nap.
By this time, it was starting to get late. We made it to the Kaibab National Forest and got to watch the sunset there and see some more incredibly beautiful scenery. Sadly, we didn't manage any photos. Slanken slept peacefully and we thought about how awesome it was that we were almost to Kanab and we'd soon be able to do the same.
We also joked about how the guide book told us there was no reason to "hit the breaks" in Fredonia, AZ...a town just over the border from Utah and a scant 7 miles from our destination. We laughed right up until the lights started flashing in the rear window.
There may not be a reason to actually stop in Fredonia, but a ticket and tricky sausage escape later, we learned there is totally a reason to um, hit the breaks. Cathy made a quick exit from the vehicle with her hands up in surrender like a naughty sausage smuggling fugitive and explained about our weenie shaped cargo, while I wrangled Slanken out of officer biting range as soon as we were given the go ahead.
Once we made it safely to Kanab, the reality of the next day's goodbyes set in and I don't think anyone (except for maybe Slinky) slept very well despite our very long and action packed day.
We arrived at the sanctuary early the next morning. I'm sorry to say there are no photos from the actual Slanken transition. I think there was just way too much emotion going on for any of us to have had the presence of mind to take pictures. It was probably the best possible goodbye and the best possible place for Slinky to be but it was still tough and the start of a new and challenging journey that I think we all really wish we could still be a part of somehow.
First, we checked Slinky into Dog Headquarters and spoke with some of her new Caregivers. One of the trainers, a very sweet, tall guy named Paul (who we dubbed the "Best Friend's version of APA! Adoption Counselor, Aaron") came out and told us he was going to do the hand off. We explained that Slanken sometimes had some strong feelings about males, especially tall ones, and Paul came back wearing some heavy duty gloves, a relaxed and reassuring smile, and accompanied by two female trainers who would also be working with Slanken.
Sure enough, Slanken hopped out of the car and told Paul she was not about to be his new friend quite so easily. One of the female trainers and I walked off with Slanken and did the standard filling in the blanks info on our spicy little snausage girl. From where Cathy, Mary, & Sam watched with Paul and the other female trainer, we stepped behind a bush with Slinky's leash in my hand and walked out the other side with her leash in the new trainer's hand. It was a seamless transfer.
We then took Slinky over to the pens in the assessment area where she'd spend the next 14 days before getting her first placement and official Dogtown address. Slinky walked in and promptly took a poo to let everyone know the space was hers. While I went over some more things with the female trainer, Paul came back and asked what some of Slinky's favorite things were. A splash pool and multiple stuffed animal toys then appeared like magic.
As we were leaving, we were all really struck by the attitude of Slinky's new people. Not only did they seem completely comfortable with her behavior challenges, confident in their ability to help her, and completely relaxed and positive about the whole situation, they also seemed genuinely happy and excited to have this new dog in their care.
As we were leaving, the female trainer who'd taken Slinky's leash from me said, "We'll figure it out." I believe with all my heart that they will.
After saying goodbye to Sausages, we headed out for a tour of Best Friends. To say it's beautiful there is an understatement. They say the scenery does as much for the animals as the sanctuary itself and I think that's entirely possible. It also really gives credence to the word sanctuary. The care the animals receive, the environment in which they live, the quality present in the attention to detail all combine to make Best Friends a place filled with hope for animals who had very little and an incredible example of what is possible for the rest of the animal welfare community.
After our tour, we walked over to a quick orientation before hitting the awesome vegetarian lunch buffet in the Best Friend's cafeteria so we'd have plenty of energy to spend the day volunteering!
Of course we wanted to volunteer with doggies! Sam & I were assigned to a part of Dogtown called The Fairway where we got to spend time with dogs like Gear, April, & Patty! Cathy & Mary were assigned to a part of Dogtown called The Gardens where they spent time with dogs like Alfie, Glenn, & Amy!
We'd gotten to see where the cats, dogs, bunnies, birds, and wildlife lived on our tour and had an amazing day volunteering with the pooches...but we still wanted to see where the farm animals lived! Like sheep!
When our day at Best Friends was done, we spent a very nice night in Kanab, UT before hitting the road the next morning with Mission Save Slanken ACCOMPLISHED!
The next day, we stopped in Monument Valley for some awesome off-road style exploring with huge rocks.
We saw Elephant Butte!
The Three Sisters!
We also got our Utah sign photo that we kinda missed on the way in!
After some more drivin', lots more scenery, a stop at The Four Corners (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, & Colorado) so Sam could go, um, "tushy up in four states" (a moment I have been banned from posting the photo of), & plenty of Slinky reminiscing, some very tired ladies arrived in beautiful Santa Fe, NM. There was an awesome dinner where Cathy & I both briefly lost our ability to read (though somehow managed to say "margarita" and "beer") before guacamole revived us enough to manage a menu, followed by a really wonderful night's sleep.
The last day home was fairly uneventful and mostly took us through scenic (ahem) West Texas. We did manage to blow out a tire just before we crossed the border of our fair state though! Right on that very stretch of highway!
For the record, ALL of the ladies on the trip know how to change a tire. Getting the tire off the darn Yukon, however, wasn't quite as easy. We tried our best!
Sam perservered despite many injuries. Including a tire iron to the head!
Finally, we were rescued by a real life cowboy! It was awesome.
Those of us on the trip definitely spent time talking about how amazing it would be to move to Kanab and be part of Best Friends. I think though, that it is even more amazing to come back here to Austin Pets Alive! and continue working our very hardest to make our own organization better and better each day. We will keep pushing until dogs like Slinky can get the help they need right here in Austin.
APA! is where our hearts are and where Slinky will always have a place as our little sausage shaped symbol of hope for what is possible if we never, ever give up.