How an Army of Volunteers Helped a Dumped Puppy Start a New Life

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Lexi a foster pet
Lexi decompresses on her first day in her Georgia foster home. Mary Jo DiLonardo

As I write this, there's a puppy sleeping in my office, cuddled in a baby blanket, sighing every once in a while and thumping her tail occasionally, even as she dreams. This happy little nugget is coming off quite the incredible journey.

Thanks to a slew of amazing volunteers, this stray puppy made about a 550-mile trek from Louisiana to Georgia in hopes of finding her forever, happy home.

Here's the story of her long and inspiring adventure.

Found on a gravel road

Lexi as a stray
Lexi was found on a gravel road in Arkansas, spotted after a truck was seen driving away. Walking in the Sun Rescue

In late January, Mindy Diffenderfer, founder of Walking in the Sun Rescue in nearby Louisiana, got a call about a puppy that was picked up on a gravel road in Hamburg, Arkansas. According to reports, a truck was seen leaving the deserted area, so they had a pretty good idea the dog was dumped. Although she didn't have a spot for the puppy because her fosters were full, Mindy took in the border collie mix anyway and dubbed her Flora. She gave her shots, dewormed her and tested her for heartworms. Then she coaxed a foster to take her in.

A couple days later, I saw a post on my national border collie rescue group about this perfect puppy in need of rescuing. I live in metro Atlanta, so I figured I was too far away to get this sweet thing to foster, but I was smitten. I read that she was housetrained, didn't mind her kennel, got along with kids and dogs and hugged you when she wanted attention. She sounded pretty amazing.

I reached out to Mindy via a mutual friend who is a rescue matchmaker of sorts, and she said it would be no problem. There aren't any shelters in that part of Louisiana, so Mindy finds rescues and shelters all over the country to take in the strays her rescue finds. She regularly networks and gets them to places as far away as Florida and Maine. From that perspective, Atlanta was going to be a piece of cake.

Soon she had a Facebook post calling for transport volunteers. The puppy had to get from Bastrop, Louisiana, to Alpharetta, Georgia — a distance of about 550 miles and more than eight hours. Transport volunteers help drive a rescue dog to its foster home or shelter. The trips are often done in legs, with each person driving an hour or two or more.

Mindy quickly had people sharing her post, spreading the word in her impressive network. Not long after she had posted, she had rounded up four people on her end and we had one person on ours. This puppy's route was set.

A team effort

Lexi resting car
Lexi rested quietly in the car for each leg of her journey. Walking in the Sun Rescue

On Friday morning, Lexi was picked up in Bastrop by Meredith. Lexi curled up for the first part of her journey in a cuddly blue blanket. I was glued to our group message where we all shared updates on Lexi's journey.

When Meredith handed off to Linda in Vicksburg, Mississippi, she shared a photo of the sweet puppy and said, "Thank y'all for letting me be apart of this transport!! She is so sweet!


Lexi puppy car
All of Lexi's transporters reported how sweet and calm she was. Walking in the Sun Rescue

Then Linda drove the pup from Vicksburg to Brandon, Mississippi, sending lots of photos to our group. "She is very sweet very soft very pretty," she told us. "And I can't keep my hands off her!"

Linda made the transfer to Bama, who then made the transfer to Suzy in Meridian, Mississippi. "She is the definition of sweetness," declared Suzy, who also updated us with lots of photos.

Lexi sleeping
Lexi slept for much of her trip. Walking in the Sun Rescue

Suzy then transferred in Birmingham to Elise, who works with my rescue, Phoenix Rising Border Collie Rescue. Elise was also enamored with the puppy, who spent much of the time dozing in Elise's backseat.

At every stop along the way, Lexi greeted each volunteer with tail wags and licks, curling up on her blanket, peacefully accepting each leg of her journey. Each person drove an hour or two or more with this precious puppy cargo.

I was watching her adventures unfold in the chat group with crazy anticipation. Finally, my husband and I jumped in the car to pick her up from Elise. Sweet Lexi met us at the door with her white-tipped tail whipping back and forth, seemingly unfazed by her adventure.

Ready for the next step

Lexi with toys
Lexi discovers all the toys. Mary Jo DiLonardo

Lexi settled in at my house, ready for the next part of her adventure. People following her begin sending inquiries about adoption. She recovered from spay surgery, and she loves to play and wrestle with my dog, Brodie. But the thing she wants to do more than anything is be in someone's lap and be snuggled. After some time to decompress and settle in we were able to figure out what kind of home would be perfect for her.

I've never been around a puppy that craves attention so much. Her tail is always wagging and she just wants to be petted and to be near you. It's truly hard to believe that this puppy could've been dumped. I'm not sure what she could've done wrong. Maybe she was in the middle of a domestic argument. Maybe she was just another mouth to feed.

But the good news is that thanks to an amazing team of volunteers and a couple of awesome rescues, this sweet little girl is on her way to a perfect new life at her forever North Carolina home.