Al’s Ark
by Farley Davidson LD
The trip began like so many school charters. A careful roll call, a bit of whining over seat selection… growling over riding in the rear of the bus. It had the same feel as many trips in the past.

There were a few differences... Every passenger, male and female, wore a fur coat. All were barefoot and had beautiful white teeth. The chaperone carried a whiffle bat, and whacked the seat backs vigorously any time they got out of line.

If we needed proof that the bus business had gone to the dogs, confirmation came over the 2004 Labor Day weekend.

You’ve guessed by now that the passengers weren’t school kids, but dogs. Thirty five of them embarked (pardon the pun) on a voyage from central Long Island New York to their new home upstate, 30 miles north of Utica.

Al Papszycki is an accomplished dog trainer with a weakness. Dog’s turned up who for various reasons were not good candidates for adoption. They were too old, too large, too something. Rather than allow them to be put down, Al and his mother brought them home.

Home was a small suburban house, perfect for a dog or two. NOT the 60 he ended up with. Neighbors were reasonably sympathetic, but authorities were making serious noises, and Al feared for the dogs’ future.

It was time for the canine version of the Ark.

Barbara and Bill Schoolman are animal lovers, and had gotten to know Al. Bill owns Classic Transportation in Bohemia, New York and felt he had to help. The Schoolman’s helped form the Spirit Animal Sanctuary, and assisted financially with the purchase of land and temporary housing. The major remaining problem was transporting the dogs 300 miles from Long Island to Upstate New York.

Bill, accomplished transportation executive that he is, at first thought "How hard can this be"?

After racking his brain, he concluded that a school bus would be ideal. Cleverly figuring that the local school contractors would be reluctant to lend him one, Bill contacted Cliff Clare of Quality Bus Sales in New Windsor NY.
No one is entirely sure what happened next. At the end of the conversation, not only did Quality loan Bill a bus, Cliff offered to drive part way AND brought his 2 sons to help.

So... there we were loading big yellow bus in a nice neighborhood. Like a modern Noah, Al led dogs to the bus in pairs.

We motored over the Throgs Neck Bridge and up the New York Thruway. Barbara Schoolman enforced discipline with an iron hand (actually the plastic bat). Cliff’s sons, Christopher and Patrick, helped with the dogs, and pestered him to let them keep a couple. People in cars honked and waved, Toll takers smiled and actually said "Thank you".

The bus stopped at a Thruway rest area to meet Al and his niece Linda, who had another million dogs in his van. Folks couldn’t resist coming to the bus windows to pet them. A few escaped, but were quickly rounded up.

We roared on into the dusk, and arrived at their new home around midnight. Never a word of complaint, minimal grumbling, everyone just so happy to be there.

From a drivers perspective, the trip was similar to a load of high schoolers, but with less hassle. No matter how tired you were, one look in the back of the bus, and you couldn’t help smiling.

Bill Schoolman is passionate about safety at Classic Transportation.... and is proud to report that there were no accidents on the journey, outside OR inside the bus.

The dogs are happy and healthy in their new digs (another pun... sorry). Al cares for them, and continues to try to find them adoptive homes. In order to cover the expenses of the Spirit Animal Sanctuary he does training, and boards animals. Dogs who folks are reluctant to take because they are large, old, or have been abused have a home for life.

The Schoolman’s love and commitment, along with Quality Bus Sales generosity (and Cliff’s driving skill) mean that these dogs can live full, happy lives.

Going to the dogs isn’t all bad.

Spirit Animal Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All contributions are deductible to the full extent of the law.

© 2005-2008 Spirit Animal Sanctuary. All rights reserved. Spirit Animal Sanctuary, 2539 East Road, Boonville, NY 13309, Tel: 631-379-2554