Cassidy Kraus and her boyfriend Brett Weyers love dogs. Together they live with a blind pit bull named Sotiras, or “Soto” for short. It’s the Greek word for “savior.”
“Soto, I had adopted and rescued out of the shelter here in Milwaukee where I was volunteering in 2013,” Kraus said. “He was wonderful. We lived alone for a while. I met Brett and then we started dating.”
They were a happy family, but in early 2016 Weyers came down with puppy fever. They decided to adopt another dog.
“She told me, you know, let’s look close, like close to Milwaukee. Let’s try and stay in the area so we don’t have to go very far,” Weyers said.
They looked online for a dog to rescue, and that’s where their story becomes quite the tale. Kraus found a dog that would be a perfect buddy for Soto. There was one catch.
“She kind of looks at me and goes ‘Ahhh’ and I go, ‘Oh great, this is going to be real good,’” Weyers quipped. “He’s in Sacramento, California!”
Kraus found a blind bulldog named Batty. He was abandoned at the Sacramento SPCA, or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It was 2,000 miles from Milwaukee, but Kraus and Weyers were still interested. The shelter said they could adopt Batty, but only if they drove to California and brought Soto with them.
“And so we did,” Weyers said.
“We made that awful drive,” Kraus added. They rearranged their work schedules to make a four-day road trip across the country. It would take approximately 36 hours to get there. It would be the most challenging road trip of their lives.
“Eight hours in, we stopped to get food,” Weyers said. “I got food poisoning.”
They had to stop and take Weyers to an emergency room.
“We were like, ‘Is this a bad omen? Should we turn around? Like this is a bad sign that we shouldn’t be doing this?’ I was like no. We’re going to do it,” Kraus said.
Next, they’d dodge tire shrapnel in Wyoming.
“I’m asleep and just get jolted awake as she slams on the brakes and screams and I wake up and here’s this semi in front of us. One of the tires exploded,” Weyers said. “We’re like, ‘Well that was that another sign?’ And we were like, ‘Nope, let’s keep going.’”
Even Mother Nature refused to throw them a bone. “We hit a snowstorm in Tahoe,” Weyers said.
“That was bad,” Kraus added. All this, and there was no guarantee Soto and Batty would even get along.
“I had so much anxiety that we would have driven all that way and they wouldn’t have clicked,” Kraus said. “I was sick to my stomach.”
After a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, Kraus and Weyers made it to Sacramento. The moment of truth had arrived.
“The meet and greet went flawless,” Kraus said.
“Here he comes, bouncing around the corner and I’m like, ‘Oh this dog is, this is perfect,’” Weyers said.
The trip was a success. Soto and Batty became fast friends. Kraus and Weyers changed Batty’s name to Agios, or Ago for short. It’s the Greek word for “saint.” They brought him home to Milwaukee, where Ago learned to fit in with his new family.
“I think that people have this stigma around handicapped dogs: blind, deaf, incontinent, whatever it may be, that they’re hard and they’re not worth it,” Kraus said. “It is such the opposite.”
Kraus and Weyers say their journey was absolutely worth it.
“I can’t even describe how much we love both of them and how happy we are that we made that 36 hours there and back,” Weyers said. “It was the best chaotic decision we have ever made,” Kraus said.