Who wants to drive to Texas to get a dog? Also Whattaburger.

This is the story of an idea, and how that idea combined with fortune and timing to open up an entire new chapter in mine and my family’s lives. It’s also about driving 1500 miles in less than 36 hours to pick up a dog.

(Nothing says road trip like leaving at 5PM in the rain.)

It was a simple enough idea. I wanted a dog I could go trail running with. But like most things in my life simple and me weren’t bound to meet. For starters, and I can’t stress this enough, I have a family. Other people’s needs and feelings (not to mention space) had to be taken into consideration. The kids I knew would be an easy win. The wife on the other hand would not be swayed by just a damp nose and wagging tail. Personal experience had taught me as much. Assurances would have to be given. Proper thought and plans would have to be made.

There was also the fact that I already had a dog. Eve has been with us for over nine years and even though she wasn’t the right fit for what I needed in a running partner she’s been in the family longer than either of my sons so I knew she deserved a vote.

(Current dog Eve and her preferred state of motion.)

Then of course there was finding the right dog. I needed a dog that was confident but not aggressive, high energy but not hyper, and most import of all capable of throwing down 20+ miles of trail in a day. On top of all that I needed a dog with the right temperament to fit in with the other five heartbeats already inhabiting my home. It was no small bill to fill.

With that in mind as soon as I committed to the idea I committed myself to having the patience to wait. Getting any dog is no small decision. Getting a dog for a specific purpose is an even bigger one. Having owned dogs most of my life and worked and trained with them professionally I was confident I’d know when the right one came along. I just had to be patient and wait for the universe to serve it up.

Then my friend Tracy shared a post on Facebook. Hello Christmas Miracle.

(Just. Look. At. My. Face.)

In full disclosure I’ve missed some shots in my life because I didn’t see them in time. Sometimes you need a cipher to decode the universe and sometimes you’re just dense. This was not going to be one of those times. As soon as I saw that face I was in, and as soon as I spoke with my friend who had evaluated him and shared the post I knew Milo was the one. There was just one minor inconvenience. Milo was in Texas. I was very much not.

(It just takes caffeine and stubbornness.)

This was going to require some heavy lifting. Flying wasn’t going to be an option and as appealing as the 11 day hiking option was time is always of the essence. If it was going to be it was up to me to drive straight there to get it done.

Tracy kept me updated on Milo as the Holidays passed and by the time I was ready to load up and head out I was more certain than ever he was the one. Certain of the 1500 mile round trip that lay ahead of me I was not. Not only did I have to drive that far I had to do it in as little time as possible. My two days off were my only shot, so on the raining evening prior I loaded up the Subaru and headed West.

Scared Money Don’t Make None

Leaving at 5PM in January in the rain meant it was dark before I even hit Atlanta. I stopped by the wife’s work to surprise her and then with a literal fistful of caffeine I turned West and headed into the night. I had no idea how far I would make it driving through the night but I was determined to make it as far as I could. Turns out that was somewhere in east Louisiana with about three and a half hours of the drive still to go.

(When you pay for the amenities not the view.)

After a few hours of sleep in the back of the Forester in a Motel 6 parking lot I hit the Starbucks next door and was back on the road. Once I’d updated Tracy on my progress there were only two things left to do. Race the sun West to Beaumont, TX and our meeting location and find a Whattaburger for breakfast.

(If y’all want to see a grown man crying while he eats I’ll be inside.)

If you’ve never experienced the joy of Whattaburger my heart hurts for you. As a former resident of Whattaburger country and now an ex-pat I had to seize the opportunity while I could. Make hay while the day is long they say, or in this case increase your fat and cholesterol intake while you can. It’s not an overstatement to say rolling up on that Home Depot orange and white sign made me feel like Odysseus returning to Ithaca, and walking in the door to the smell of hot grease made me feel like home.

A short while later with my calorie intake maxed and my digestive track working overtime I headed out, a short ten minute drive separating me from gastronomical Valhalla and the dog I’d come 750 miles to meet.

It wasn’t until I got to our meeting spot that I realized just how excited I really was. Driving that long through the night I think had stretched my ability to focus, providing ample distraction from the real task at hand. But now in the stillness of waiting the monumental nature of what was happening finally settled in. By the time Tracy rolled up I couldn’t get the grin off my face, and when Milo finally came spilling out of his crate all legs and ears it was love at first sight.

The three of us spent some time together going over all the details and giving Milo and I a chance to meet. The real bonding and connecting would take time but in that short while I saw enough to know. He was the one. We took a few pictures and said our goodbyes, and in short order Milo and I were piled back up in the Subaru and ready to head East.

The drive back from Beaumont to Georgia is honestly one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The scenery and weather left a lot to be desired but the company was top notch. Milo’s confidence and ease in the car were amazing and it wasn’t long before he was passed out in the back with a tennis ball in his mouth.

Before long we’d blown out of Texas and back into Louisiana, blasting through the wet conditions and over bayous as the miles piled back up. Diving off the I-10 to avoid multiple wrecks from the rain we made good time, hitting Mississippi and then on into Mobile with the sun still up. Darkness finally caught up to us somewhere before Montgomery, but not before a final stop at Whattaburger could shine a little more light into our lives.

(Twice in one day is twice as nice.)

We finally made it back in just before midnight. In the short time since Milo has quickly adjusted to his new home, and his new home has welcomed him in with open arms. I can’t wait to start putting down trail miles instead of road miles but for now Milo is happy to be exploring his new home and friends and I’m just happy to be home.

I can’t finish without giving a major shout out and thank you to Tracy and the good people at Category 5 K9 for even making this possible. Follow the link if you’d like to learn more about their mission and work. Also to my amazing and amazingly tolerant wife for putting up with my shenanigans. I certainly couldn’t do any of this without you.

If you like what you read and want to keep up on Milo’s progress be sure and subscribe to my blog to get the latest updates and gratuitous puppy pictures. In the meantime I need to go find my running shoes. Till later.