Couple Builds A 'Dog Train' To Take Their Rescue Pups Out On Little Adventures
"They just love it. They absolutely love it.”
On Friday evenings, just before sunset, the din of traffic on the roads around Lehigh Acres, Florida, gives way to a sound far more pleasing — the cheerful chorus of happy pups on the move.
It’s at this time, like clockwork, a dog train takes to the streets just to brighten the lives of its furry passengers.
Alice Johnston and her husband, Paul, moved to Lehigh Acres about eight years ago, after years spent operating an animal rescue shelter in Costa Rica. But they didn’t relocate alone. They also brought along the more than a dozen dogs under their care there — all of whom had been saved from the streets.
Now in the suburbs, the Johnstons decided to get creative.
“We have so many dogs, of course we couldn’t walk them all or put them in the car to take them for a ride,” Alice Johnston told The Dodo. “So, my husband build a train so that we could take them out, drive around the community. He pulls the train with a lawnmower, and I ride a little scooter behind him to keep an eye on things, to make sure they’re safe.”
The happy gang is a sight to behold.
The idea for the Wonderland Express, as its known, was inspired by a Texas man who built a dog train for his own rescue pups. And the Johnstons’ dogs love it just as much.
“The dogs get so excited. They just love it. They absolutely love it,” Johnston said. “They know it’s Friday better than we do. It’s amazing how they know.”
But the pups aren’t the only ones thrilled about their weekly trips.
“We have people who wait for us every week [to pass by on the street],” Johnston said. “Some people come out and give the dogs treats. They really enjoy it.”
The Johnstons have put all that attention the train gets to some very good use.
“My husband has signs all over the train encouraging people to adopt, and not shop,” Johnston said. “There are so many homeless dogs, and they make wonderful pets. Anything we can do to encourage people to give these dogs a chance, we are happy to do it.”
The Johnstons don’t aim to publicize their Wonderland Express dog train, though they are glad people are happy to see it. For them, it’s all about their dogs’ enjoyment — and spreading the word about the joy of adopting.
“It gives us so much joy to know that dogs are getting a second chance,” Johnston said. “And it really gives us satisfaction knowing we’re giving our dogs a good life.”