RIVERSIDE — A white terrier mix rode thousands of miles in a tractor-trailer transport to meet her new family in Pennsylvania.
Eloise is an energetic 1-year-old in the home of Mary Paladin and Peter Cassidy in Riverside.
“We wanted a shaggy-looking dog,” said Paladin who searched unsuccessfully in this area. She saw Eloise listed under the name Mouse on Facebook at Shaggy Dog Rescue in Houston, Texas.
Their dog, Agatha, a giant Schnauzer mix adopted from the Danville SPCA, died in 2013. Paladin is partial to the shaggy look, having grown up with schnauzers.
Once she saw Mouse’s face, she knew. “I thought about how we would get her here,” she said learning of the transport through the rescue which arranged for Mouse to be brought to Pennsylvania by Rescue Road Trips of White Cottage, Ohio.
“They provide a phenomenal service — a tractor-trailer that is air conditioned and heated and all set up for dogs,” Paladin said.
“I have the utmost respect and enthusiasm for this man (Greg Mahle) who makes this 7,000-mile trek every other week,” she said.
“He is a godsend to the desperate dogs of the South,” she said.
Mouse was scheduled to be picked up in Allentown. “Volunteers show up at the scheduled times and places to walk, feed, toilet and love up the traveling dogs. It is an amazing thing to see,” Paladin said. On the frigid Jan. 9 night they picked up their pup, dozens of adults and children shoveled paths for the dogs.
“When she came out of the truck, she jumped onto us,” she said of their dog who was spayed and up-to-date on shots.
Paladin had talked with the family fostering Mouse before she arrived and found she was also housebroken.
She said the fee they paid for her to be brought here was a nominal amount. It is 1,567 miles from Houston to Allentown.
“She’s a gem, has a wonderful personality and is a really good girl,” she said of their dog who has taken an obedience class and is training to become a Canine Good Citizen. She also loves their five cats.
Their daughter Alimara came up with the name, saying she looked like an Eloise.
“I am so grateful there is something like that service to get them up here,” Paladin said. Four other families picked up dogs that night in Allentown.
Debbie Papageorge, who schedules Mahle’s trips, said he travels to the South every other week as far as Texas, to Louisiana and Mississippi with dogs shuttled as far north as Connecticut.
He usually has around 70 dogs on a transport. He’s been making the trip for at least 10 years. He has delivered some cats to new owners too.
Formerly operating a family-business restaurant, Mahle got involved when “somebody called him who needed help getting an animal so far and he transported the animal the rest of the way and he fell in love with it,” she said.
She said he has a lot of volunteers helping when he pulls into Birmingham, Ala.
He travels with another driver and when they stop overnight, Mahle stays with the dogs. “They are never by themselves,” she said.
“When he’s on the road, I am here continuously handling calls. I also clean the trailer and sanitize it for the next trip,” she said.
A book will be released in October about Mahle and his work. The book, available for advance ordering through Amazon, is an account by someone who rode along with him on a trip.
Kathy Wetmore, of Shaggy Dog Rescue, uses Mahle for all her dog transports. “Most come from high-kill shelters and some are found abandoned in local parks near shelters,” she said.
She said shelters in the Houston area are high-kill as a result of an uneducated population not spaying and neutering pets. “We don’t have a lot of good spay-neuter programs and a lot of the population is poor,” she said.