WEST – For 41-year-old Geoffrey Goodman, the coronavirus pandemic is very important: he is given the opportunity to save a number of furry four-legged friends.
“It gives me free time to do the things I’ve always dreamed of,” said Goodman, a native Westerner living in Ashaway, who teaches English – virtually – at the College of the Marshall Islands.
Goodman, the youngest son of Mary and Tobias Goodman of Weekapaug, recently completed two roundtrip trips to Alabama to rescue dogs and cats, and on one of the trips, he ended up “huddled in an SUV with three homeless dogs over frozen season nights. cold. “
Goodman, who graduated from Westerly High School in 1997, has a number of college degrees, including a master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a doctorate from Korea University, and has taught at colleges and universities in South Korea, Massachusetts, and Alabama.
He hasn’t always dreamed of chilling in a vehicle with a rescue dog, but he has long wanted to help animals in need on a larger scale.
“It felt like I was making good use of my time,” Goodman said. “I’m lucky enough to have a very flexible work schedule that allows me to do more transportation.”
Plus, adds Goodman, who describes some of his experiences on the phone and email, “I think I’m a bleeding heart.”
When he lived in Alabama and worked at Auburn University, Goodman sometimes volunteered at animal shelters, where he saw hundreds of animals waiting to be adopted.
“Animal shelters in much of the South are filled with cats and dogs,” he explained. Alabama has been hit by a number of natural disasters in recent years, from hurricanes to tornadoes and floods. When people are forced to flee their homes, they are often forced to leave their animals behind, as shelters rarely accept pets.
Goodman says one of the many things he’s learned is how the world of animal welfare attracts “great sleeping companions.”
“There are academics and religious people, LGBTQ people and mothers,” he said. “You see all kinds of people.”
On his first trip south, Goodman headed for Gadsden, Ala., Well prepared for the distance amid the pandemic.
With the correct mask and gloves, he wrote, “I carry all my supplies for the trip and just interact … with the gas station.”
When she arrived at Carol Huckaby’s “Huckaby’s Hope for Paws,” she said, “her now sterile habits are at odds with the kennel I’m going to live in.”
Huckaby, in his 60s, is a cigarette smoker wearing “a good used ‘Huckaby’s Hope for Paws’ sweat shirt and pants,” Goodman says, and his place, an old little shop window sandwiched between a glass replacement shop and lots of second-hand parts. , literally smelled like a pigsty. Because it is.
Inside Huckaby’s shop, he wrote, he saw two little creatures waiting in the stable, “rustling on the hay and pig feed, the happiest piglets in town.”
Next to the piglet, Domino, the 40-pound, black-and-white 5-month-old puppy (“Looks like a mix of boxers, American Staffordshire terriers, and squirrel monkeys”) roams in front of the kennels then “runs down the cord to give them kisses and yelps. . “
After loading Domino into his van, Goodman followed Huckaby to pick up the other passengers.
With Domino seated at the front, “her head securely attached to the derailleur,” Goodman proceeded to fetch Star (“less than a year, big terrier and whatever with the largest random burst of mud” sitting “quietly in his cage, guard wolf, completely hiding the original character. “
The next passenger was Butterscotch, a mixed breed, about nine weeks old, so small he could carry her in one arm.
After a memorable trip (listening to a podcast with his friends “biting, wiggling and wagging” along the way), Goodman hooked up with Alyssa Ellman, who raises animals and coordinates adoptions under the name Alyssa Rescues.
“It wasn’t until I gave up the dogs in Massachusetts that I realized the importance of that moment to the new dog crowd,” Goodman wrote. “They got a new family member.”
A boy in the family who adopted Domino “immediately started telling Domino everything about his new life and that he was actually named Lola,” Goodman said.
On his most recent trip, Goodman brought home a dog for his mother, a multi-colored mixed breed named Selma.
“Geoff has always been sensitive and always been a helper,” said Mary Goodman, who lent her son’s Jeep for his first trip to Alabama and rented out a large SUV for his Christmas week outing.
“He’s great … he’s generous,” he added, noting that, as a teacher, part of his job is “to make the experience richer.”
“There are a lot of dogs and cats that need homes, but my car can only accommodate so many,” Goodman said. “With longer waiting times, Carol and Alyssa say they will be able to fill a much larger vehicle.”
Goodman says he’s looking for a large truck, van, or SUV to borrow or buy (“at a fair price”) for the next 2,500 mile round trip to Alabama.
“I’ll sterilize it later, and maybe even have a new, perfect dog or cat in it for you,” Goodman said.
Goodman can be reached at [email protected].