“They just love it. They absolutely love it.”
On Friday afternoons, just before dusk, the roar of traffic on the roadways near Lehigh Acres, Florida, gives way to a far more pleasant sound – a joyous chorus of happy dogs on the go.
It is at this time that a dog train, like clockwork, travels to the streets to brighten the lives of its furry passengers.
Alice Johnston and her husband, Paul, relocated to Lehigh Acres approximately eight years ago after running an animal rescue center in Costa Rica for several years. They did not, however, relocate alone. They also took with them the more than a dozen dogs in their care, all of them had been rescued from the streets.
The Johnstons decided to be inventive now that they were in the suburbs.
“Because we had so many dogs, we couldn’t walk them all or put them in the car to take them on a journey,” Alice Johnston told The Dodo. “So my husband built a railway so we could take them out and drive around the neighborhood.” He pulls the train with a lawnmower, and I go behind him on a tiny scooter to keep an eye on things and make sure they’re safe.”
It’s impossible not to smile when you see the cheerful bunch.
A Texas guy who created a dog train for his own rescue dogs inspired the Wonderland Express, as it is called. It’s also a hit with the Johnstons’ dogs.
“The dogs are ecstatic. They just adore it. “They are really enamored with it,” Johnston added. “They are more aware of the fact that it is Friday than we are.” It’s incredible how they know.”
But the pups aren’t the only ones who look forward to their weekly outings.
“Every week, people wait for us [to pass by on the street],” Johnston explained. “Some folks come out and feed the dogs. They have a great time.”
The Johnstons have made excellent use of all the attention the train receives.
“My husband has placards all over the train encouraging people to adopt rather than purchase,” added Johnston. “There are a lot of homeless dogs, and they make great pets.” Anything we can do to persuade folks to give these dogs a chance, we would gladly do.”
The Johnstons have no intention of publicizing their Wonderland Express dog train, but they are pleased that others are interested in seeing it. It’s all about their dogs’ happiness — and spreading the word about the joys of adoption — for them.
“It brings us such delight to know that pets are being given a second opportunity,” Johnston added. “And it brings us a lot of happiness to know that we’re providing our pets a happy life.”