ANIMALS

This Dog Was On His 'Freedom Flight' And He Just Couldn't Sit Still In His Seat

by Elzaan Van der merwe

Dogs that come from shelters are a special breed of their own. They are down and out, have nothing to lose but everything to gain! They have a loving family out there waiting for them and when the time is right they will be adopted and loved for the rest of their days.

The love they give their adopters is something out of this world. Because they are so happy to be out of that concrete cell they give more love, snuggles, and kisses than all the bought pets put together.

They are just so thankful and Woody a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees was so terribly thankful for getting out of his concrete jail that when he took his first ride on an airplane to freedom he just couldn't sit still. 

Woody was found on the streets of North Carolina and taken to a local animal shelter where he sat his days away with just concrete surrounding him. After the vets examined him they discovered that he has heartworm, mange and a number of other diseases and they decided to put him down.

An animal rescue group called LaMancha Animal Rescue heard of Woody and his situation so they decided they are going to take him and give him a chance. But there was one teeny little problem.

They were situated miles away in Unionville, Pennsylvania. So, this is where Paul Steklenski an army veteran and network engineer stepped up to the plate or should we say stepped up to the plane.

Now, you are wondering who is this guy? Well, he is the founder of Flying Fur Animal Rescue. Basically, what he does, he flies animals in need from high kill shelters all the way to rescuers in the North East.

So far he has flown and rescued over 1,000 animals and he started this journey right after he adopted his own dog, Tessa. 

"At the time, I was completing my airman’s certificate and adopting Tessa, and it just all came together and made sense," Paul said. "You realize the airplane is a really efficient way to move a lot of animals hundreds of miles in a short amount of time to get them off death row."

When Paul arrived at the designated airport in late July he was facing a Tetris type of configuration situation with the crates, in which he had to transport Woody and four other dogs. So, if he put too much weight at the back it would throw off the airplane's balance and with Woody weighing 84 pounds, it was quite the mission.

So, Paul decided to make room for Woody between the crates and the walls of the airplane and he seemed quite happy to be there. 

However, as soon as the plane took off, Woody decided he doesn't like being a passenger, but would rather like to be Paul's co-pilot.

"Because of the loading and how big some of these dogs were, I had to basically carve out a place in the back of the airplane for him so he could sit freely," Paul said. "It was a surprise to us once we got him in and he looked pretty happy when he started to make his way forward until we were nose-to-nose."

Woody wanted to show Paul and the cameraman that he was beyond happy, so he stuck his head in between them and just smiled! And soon they were his best buds.

"It was great, he just wanted to be around us, and that blows me away," Paul said. "Here’s this dog, he has all these problems, but he doesn’t care, he just wants to be next to another being."

There high in the sky, Woody didn't have a care in the world! 

Woody's happiness and calm temper, even helped Paul relax a little bit while navigating through not so good weather. The pup was used to trouble in his life, so the bumpy ride didn't scare him at all, in fact, he actually decided to take a nap.

"He just made his way forward, put his paws on the chair and kinda got nose-to-nose and took a little nap there," Paul said. "He fell asleep and stayed there for the rest of the flight."

Look at him fly!

"It was wonderful — I never expected him to climb forward the way he did," Paul added. "He just wanted to be part of the action."

After Woody spent a week at LaMancha Animal Rescue, he's coat returned to its fluffy whiteness. He is on antibiotics and a special diet to help him become fully healthy again and boy does he love running around on the farm.

Paul just can't wait to go visit Woody and see how he is doing. "Dogs are just incredible. Even in their worst condition, in their worst shape, they’re always happy to see you, hang out with you and be with you," Paul said. "It always blows my mind how resilient animals are."

Paul knows that Woody will someday get all the love he deserves from a family that adores him!

"We don’t deserve dogs, they’re just the best," Paul added. "I don’t know how else to say it really."

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