The Greatest of Days
We have all agreed that you are probably sick of hearing of the daily goings on of our never-ending journey east, so today in my blog I thought I’d share with you a devastatingly tragic love story. It all began on July 15th 2013, in the small town of Anita, Iowa. It was the day after my 21st birthday and as the sun rose, turning my cozy tent into the unbearable sauna that it always becomes around 6am, I urgently unzipped the tent door gasping for air. While this was a very dramatic wake up, I was greeted by an equally dramatic reaction from a startled beagle that was helping himself to our dinner leftovers. We briefly made eye contact before the elderly dog darted away guiltily. Still half-asleep, I thought it may have been a dream and fell back into my sleeping bag. An hour or so later as others began to wake up, I heard similar stories of their encounters with this timid but friendly beggar. We looked around, only to find him under the picnic table at our camping site! He donned a collar confirming his 2013 rabies vaccinations, but the campground host said that he had been hanging around the area for weeks and no one could catch him. It was then that we knew the Pedal for Purpose team had just had an encounter with fate. This dog was destined to be “The BAP Beagle”. We earned his trust by feeding him our breakfast rations one at a time to “introduce” him to each of his new owners. Quickly, the jumpy dog grew to feel at home with the pedal for purpose team and was ready to join the crew to help eradicate poverty. The next few hours that we spent with our new friend that we named “Buddy” could be compared to a love montage scene in a Romantic Comedy movie. Frolicking through open fields together, lying on our backs in the sun, having a picnic, teaching Buddy tricks, and even giving him what looked like his first shower in weeks, it was the greatest of days. Of course we thought of all of the logistics of bringing a random dog on a cross-country road trip in a van with a bunch of kids…for example, who would walk Buddy in the morning, how much food would cost, where would his seat be, would churches allow dogs? We created quick solutions to every problem that arose and set up an appointment with the local vet to make sure our new family member was happy and healthy. It was love. Never once did it cross our minds that maybe, just maybe, this dog had a family of his own.
After weeks of avoiding cleaning out the van, we did a thorough cleaning and organizing job in order to create a space for Buddy where he would have plenty of room to move around during the long drives. We taught him manners and van rules and we were well and ready to load up when Kaitlin delivered the worst news of the entire trip. She had called in his rabies vaccination numbers to the town hall and Buddy was, in fact, not lost. He lived in a house nearby the campground and had an owner. We glanced around at each other, hoping that our consciences would take the day off so we could keep our new team member and save him from his neglectful home. But we reluctantly gathered up Buddy’s new belongings, untied his new leash constructed from bike storage straps, and walked him to the address we were provided. Colin rang the doorbell and we snuck in our final goodbyes with Buddy. A full day that felt like a lifetime with our new best friend made parting a painful process. We met his friendly owner and her kids, and even offered them a bike in exchange for their beloved “Lester”. (What a terrible name!) They laughed off the offer that they clearly thought was a well-humored joke…but I’m fairly certain that we were serious.
There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of our long, lost best friend Buddy. We look at his pictures and know that he is longing to be with us on this journey. We hope that “Lester” (Buddy) is very happy in Iowa and following our tour as we near New York. Maybe he will make a guest appearance at our newly planned event on August 9th! (BE THERE!)