文圖/ Story & Picture ─ 江穎俊/ Evelyn Chiang
Courage comes when you are least expecting it. I know because that’s what happened to me, a girl petrified of men’s best friend, when I volunteered to escort two stray dogs from Taiwan to meet their adopted families in Canada back in May 2011.
My fear for the four-legged creatures stems from my childhood when my family kept big ferocious dogs such as a Rottweiler, German Shepard, and Tibetan mastiff. But as much as I was afraid of dogs, my fear was not strong enough to deter me from helping them.
To make the 10-hour flight a smooth ride for my two doggie companions - Big Joe (a mix breed) and Blue (Husky), the volunteers made sure their carriers contained a water bottle and a water-absorbing mat. With the help of the ground crew and the volunteers, the check-in process was a breeze. Simply put, when you become an animal escort, you agree to have these animals as part of your “luggage.”—don’t worry, no matter how big and heavy they are, they don’t count towards your luggage limit!
While the volunteers prepared for the carriers, I mustered up my courage to interact with the doggies briefly. I patted their back and said to them, “Are you guys feeling nervous about this trip? You are so lucky because you get to live abroad without having to learn English! I hope you both will lead a better life in Canada.”
By the time I stepped off the plane at the Vancouver airport, Big Joe and Blue were already waiting for me at the oversized baggage claim area. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw these two fellas were happy as can be. As soon as we passed customs, the volunteers from Canada were ready to take over the rest of the process and my mission was considered a success.
It is a never an easy feat to send Taiwan’s stray dogs overseas. Volunteers have to jump through multiple hoops to make it happen, such as assessing compatibility of the potential families, getting these dogs to pass the health tests, and raising enough funds so these dogs can find happiness across the ocean. On the contrary, to be a doggy escort is quite effortless. If you ever fly to Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles or Seattle, please consider being a doggy escort. You just might be the final missing link to a dog’s new lease on life!