online friendships social media

Rudy all loaded up for the final leg of his trip!

I am excited to share with you the 3rd installment in our series on online friendships and the effects of the Internet – and social media – on interpersonal relationships.  

If you are just joining us, be sure to get caught up by reading the backstory of the group of women this series is highlighting, as well as the first half of Operation Rescue Rudy.

Our story so far: Rudy, my friend’s former family dog, had been successfully rescued from a shelter in Wisconsin and taken to a Chicago veterinarian. He only needed a vet there to sign off on a clean bill of health, then he could fly home to his original family.

Now I’ll hand the narration back to Erika for the conclusion of this touching story. 

The phone rang. It was the vet that my online mom friend had found for Rudy. He told me that he couldn’t sign off on Rudy’s health certificate because the dog had a high fever, a very enlarged lymph node and an unknown infection. We discussed treatment options and a plan of action, but the bottom line was that Rudy couldn’t be put on a plane until the health certificate was signed.

online friendships social media

Rudy running to us

My online friend, who had already gone above and beyond to help us out, generously offered to keep Rudy while he received treatment. But a huge snow storm was scheduled to hit Chicago soon; if Rudy couldn’t make his flight, there was a possibility that the weather conditions could strand him there for a while.

While all this was going on, I was posting regular status updates about Rudy’s health to my Facebook profile and Rudy’s FB page. I was still hoping for suggestions. One of the other moms from the online group offered to ask a “friend of a friend,” a truck driver, if she would be able to help us transport Rudy home. This scenario felt like such a stretch, but as luck would have it, the trucker was en route to Chicago on her way back to Washington state and was scheduled to be in the Windy City the very next day – the day Rudy was supposed to be getting on his flight.

I gave the trucker a call. As it turns out, she is a huge dog person and even travels with her two Dachshunds in her truck. She agreed to help us out right away. This situation seemed unbelievable to me. I was thanking my lucky stars for having so many amazing friends scattered in all the right places! After some logistical details were worked out, a plan was in place for my friend to meet up with the trucker and get Rudy on his way home.

online friendships social media

Smothering us with kisses

The big day arrived. I got a text with a picture from my friend showing Rudy not only on the truck, but in the driver’s seat! He was smiling from ear to ear; he was always such a happy dog. I cried with relief knowing Rudy was finally on his way home to us and would be here in a few short days.

OK, they turned out to be really longdays.  I didn’t sleep much during this ordeal.

On the morning he was to arrive, I received a phone call from the trucker; she was just a couple of hours away. We arranged a place and time to meet and take Rudy.

The entire family – my kids, husband and my mother – got ready quickly and piled into our van. Washington was about to have a snow storm; if any of you know Washingtonians, then you know we don’t drive well in snow. We hightailed it out and got to the delivery address as fast as we could. A drive that normally takes an hour took us 45 minutes.

We arrived, parked and got out just in time to see Rudy RUNNING at full Dalmatian speed to us from a location that was about a football field away. Everyone who has had a senior dog knows they don’t run well. But you definitely couldn’t tell that Rudy is 10-11 years old. He raced to us and covered us with kisses.

online friendships social media

Rudy in his spot in our van

“He remembers us!” we all cheered. His reunion with us was over in a hurry, however, since his mission seemed to be to get into our van, which he also remembered. He jumped in and sat down in the spot that was his when he was ours all those years ago.

What a sweet, sweet reunion it was.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t met my amazing friends online eight years ago.  We stick together via social media and go to great lengths to help each other out. I am very thankful for them. Going through this was also a good lesson for me. I am used to having so much control over everything in my life, and I felt out of my comfort zone during these Rudy rescue days. I learned that it is good to trust and it is okay to rely on people who want to help you.

As I type this Rudy is snoring in his plush dog bed, enjoying the familiar smells of his people – and his forever home.

Here is a (bit shaky) video we took of the reunion:

Melissa Ruggles is a Splash Media Social Media Manager and On-Air Talent & Live Social Media Show Co-Host for Splash Media U.  You can find her on Twitter @AspenRayne.  Click here to see all of Melissa’s blog posts.

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  1. May 3, 2012
    Shawnee

    It really was a special endeavor! I was cheering along with everyone when Rudy made it home.

  2. May 3, 2012

    Such a wonderful story!!! I love hearing/reading it again and again! The kindness of far-off friends (who really ARE friends, not just “people we know”) and friends of friends, alike, is overwhelming in its lovliness sometimes! :)

    I’m so glad Rudy is finally home again! And I’m so glad I know all you lovely ladies! That mom’s group from so long ago… my, how has it stuck with us all! :)

  3. May 7, 2012
    Zoe Alexander

    What an amazing story! And doesn’t it just go to show the power of social media! I am so happy for Erika and her family that through SM with determination and perserverance they were able to be re-united with Rudy, or was that Randy? Only kidding! It never ceases to amaze me how far reaching SM is and what an emotional bond is created having like minded people unconditionally unite in a common cause. Lovely story, thank you!

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  1. [...] tuned for next Thursday, when we’ll post the final installment in this story: online friendships take things to the next level by circling the wagons – [...]

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