Sometimes, adopting a rescued dog can adjust your priorities. Kim Kavin wrote a book on that very topic, Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth. The riveting read traces her dog Blue’s history back to the gas chamber down South where he narrowly escaped being put to death. The book focuses on her lucky dog, but its real message, the author explains, is “the bigger story that this particular puppy had to teach me about the dog rescue movement across America.”
Kim had grown up with purebreds, but opted to adopt as an adult. “My first was a Beagle mix named Floyd, and my second was a Pointer/Pit mix named Stella,” she says. “When Floyd died near the age of 16, I was heartbroken and Stella was lonely. So I went on Petfinder to adopt another dog. That dog was Blue.
“I always thought I was doing my part by adopting a dog instead of buying from a pet store or breeder. Now ‘doing my part’ has an entirely new connotation and includes fostering other puppies who need a place to stay until homes can be found, donating financially to the rescues that helped to save Blue, and volunteering my time to help the rescues however I can.”
Many people say they simply cannot bear to adopt again after the death of a beloved dog, but Kim is not one of those people. She recalls the precise moment when she knew she had to take the plunge, 12 weeks after Floyd died: She was in Italy and saw a likeness of a Beagle on a towel for sale. “I was just standing there looking at that towel with tears in my eyes. I still had Stella at home, but I missed Floyd so much. He was my first dog and had been my best friend for a decade and a half. I had a big hole in my heart when he died, and I decided on that day that puppy love would help to fill it.”
Blue is Kim’s second Petfinder pup. And she’s so grateful to have found him that Kim writes bios of rescued dogs posted on Petfinder by her favorite rescue group, Lulu’s Rescue in Point Pleasant, PA, which saved Blue from death by gassing. Her publisher, Barron’s, is donating a portion of proceeds from Little Boy Blue to the Petfinder Foundation.
Kim remembers the moment she first saw Blue on Petfinder. “He is the one that I instantly fell in love with, not only because of his smiling face, but also because of his bio. It said he was being fostered around other dogs including a Pit mix, and that made me think he had a good chance of getting along with Stella here at my house.”
Little Boy Blue begins with Kim describing how Kim wanted her new dog immediately, but she had to wait for him to arrive on a transport from the South. “I’d never heard of anything like that. I had to drive an hour to a shopping-center parking lot off the New Jersey Turnpike and wait for an RV to pull in around 8 o’clock in the morning.” It was full of dogs who had been rescued from the South and were on their way to rescue groups and adopters here in the North.
“When the Lulu’s volunteer originally came to my home to interview me after receiving my application, she said he might come by RV or instead by private plane. I thought she was looney-tunes. But then I learned about Blue’s background and the incredible transport operations going on all around America today. It’s like a modern-day version of the Underground Railroad. It’s incredible.”
Researching her pup’s history had its wrenching moments, especially when visiting shelters. “I knew before I went down to North Carolina to trace Blue’s history that I was going to have to walk into shelters and see dogs and puppies who were on death row,” Kim says. “It’s an emotionally brutal experience.”
On her last day of reporting in North Carolina, Kim met the first person in the chain so instrumental to Blue’s survival: The person who posted Blue on Petfinder, Rhonda Beach, who now runs Chances Angel Rescue and Education (C.A.R.E.) out of Roxboro, North Carolina.
“I collected two dogs from her. They’d been saved just like Blue, from the same shelter where he was once on death row as well. Their names are Izzy and Summer, both beautiful black girls who needed homes. They lived with Blue and me for a week or two while Lulu’s Rescue marketed them for adoption. That’s all it took to save their lives: A week or two of giving them a place to stay and some dog food to eat.”
Both puppies swiftly found homes, and are living happily furever after. “There is nothing better than seeing puppies who were once on death row now in the arms of their new families, safe and sound,” Kim says. “I have foster dog number 18 here with me now. Yes, I am a crazy dog lady who house-trained and crate-trained 18 puppies in one year!”
Kim’s zodiac sign should come as no surprise, given her tenacity, determination, and heart. She’s Taurean to a T. “I’m very stubborn,” she admits, “which sure helped when my book’s research required me to walk into a shelter, stand next to its gas chamber, and get answers from its director just a few months after he planned to kill my dog.
“This book took guts to report and write,” Kim concludes, adding with a laugh, “I don’t know if a Virgo could have pulled it off!”
For more on this story, check out Blue’s Facebook page.