Dogtripping – An American Road Trip with 25 Rescue Dogs

Pet Travel Tuesday

Destination: California, Maine, cross-county continental United States

Book: Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure (NEW) – David Rosenfelt

By Pamela Douglas Webster

What’s crazier? Living with 25 dogs at a time? Or deciding to drive them across the United States?

Let’s hear from the man who actually did it and wrote about it in Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure—David Rosenfelt.

He wrote, anticipating the trip:

Someone once said that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude. That’s how I knew I was in for an ordeal.”

But Dogtripping is only partly about the trip across the country. It begins with Rosenfelt explaining how he started rescuing dogs.

A beautiful pound pup in need of rescue.

Rosenfelt is not the type of man most people would imagine running a dog rescue. When he and his wife, Debbie Myers, first began rescuing dogs from their local shelter, he was a film marketing executive turned mystery writer, and she was a former film executive who had moved to a high-level job with a national fast food chain.

Nevertheless, despite busy schedules that caused both of them to travel, the couple felt a burning mission to save golden retrievers, golden mixes, and many special needs dogs on death row in the Los Angeles shelter system.


Why? Because of Tara, the beautiful golden retriever living with Debbie when the pair met. Rosenfelt called Tara the best dog ever. She even inspired a recurring character in his Andy Carpenter mystery series. But a soft heart for all dogs, not only goldens, meant that their home was also filled with a variety of dogs who just needed a good home.

The couple matched adoptable dogs with forever homes, meeting and screening every potential adopter. Dogs that had recently been slated for death in a shelter found good homes. Dogs whose age or infirmities made them unlikely to find a home became permanent members of the Rosenfelt/Myers family.

After struggling with the challenges of keeping a large pack of dogs from disturbing their near neighbors, the pair bought acreage in rural Maine and supervised, long-distance, the renovation of a house to meet their animals’ unique needs. When Debbie retired, they would move to their new home.

But how would they transport all the dogs?

Rosenfelt reached out to his readers for help. Some suggested he ask John Travolta or Oprah Winfrey to lend their planes. When the celebrities did not make the offer, Rosenfelt considered commercial airlines. The cost of flying 25 dogs was prohibitive.

Finally, they rented three large RVs to make the trip. Eleven volunteers—some of whom were fans of his mysteries that he had never personally met—stepped up to assist him and Debbie in transporting the dogs.

Team Woofabago, the name one volunteer gave their vehicles on social media, planned the route, drove the 3 RVs, and cared for the dogs along the way. At every stop, the volunteers set up an instant dog park with 200 feet of light fencing. Even a short rest break took close to an hour. Staying on schedule so that the volunteers could make their flights home from Maine at the end was a major challenge.

A dog waits in an RV.

Rosenfelt attempts to bring his reader into his world. The book is arranged in alternating chapters with one describing the individual dogs and what it’s like to live with them and the next describing the planning, logistics, and the drive. The daily life chapters used roman type while the trip chapters were set in italic.

At first, I found his choice confusing and irritating. Especially since, in the planning stages, there wasn’t much to distinguish the italicized “trip” chapters from the daily life chapters. As the story went on, however, I adjusted to the device and it stopped bothering me.

As for the stresses Rosenfelt experienced on the road, I can personally relate. As much as I love dogs, I’d rather be buried in an ant hill and smeared with honey than to spend endless miles on a highway in an RV with a barking band.

A Traveler’s Library exists to share books that inspire travel. While Dogtripping is a light, somewhat comical read, it won’t inspire me to road trip with 25 dogs any time soon. But I left the book feeling inspired by Rosenfelt’s and Myers’ compassion and dedication. And it’s hard not to enjoy a story about former death row dogs and their people ending their travels in a place they could all call home.

Photo Credits: Pound pup and RV Dog are images found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons licenses. Learn more about the photographers by clicking the pictures. To see photos taken on the trip, visit David Rosenfelt’s website and on the Woofabago Facebook page.

Disclosures: The link to Amazon from the book covers gives you an easy way to buy Rosenfelt’s books. When you shop through my links at Amazon, I earn a few cents. Thanks for your support!

Pamela Douglas Webster is a contributor to A Traveler’s Library. She hopes to inspire people to enjoy travel with their pets in her monthly Pet Travel Thursday feature. Pamela blogs about dogs and their people at Something Wagging This Way Comes.

Pamela Douglas Webster – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.


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