The sheriff and his deputy have been busy at Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, sniffing out anything of interest. It’s only natural. After all, the deputy is a hound, and the sheriff is a brindle mix.
The sheriff — aka Peanut Butter Brickle — and the deputy — aka Digby Pancake — are traveling the contiguous 48 states for a year with owners Rachael and Nathan Johnson in their RV, visiting a rescue shelter in each state. Their adventures are chronicled in their blog, 2travelingdogs.com. Brickle and Digby themselves are rescues, said Rachael Johnson, known as Girl Person on the blog. Yes, Nathan is Boy Person.
This week, the Johnsons have been on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where they have set up temporary home in the park and visited with Terry Maguire-Casillas and other volunteers of Tired Dog Rescue.
“We got here late Monday night,” Rachael said. “We had been on a break for a month, month and a half. We left Florida and stopped at Seminole State Park in Georgia then headed this way. We started May 2. This is (state) number 36.”
It started with a blog
The blog and the couple’s subsequent travels started when the Johnsons were moving from Florida to California.
“In 2011, I started writing a blog on how to safely move from one side of the country to the other with dogs,” she said. “I never intended it to be about rescues, even though they both are rescues.”
Brickle was rescued from a kill shelter in Alabama, and Digby is a Florida rescue. In the blog and on their Facebook page, 2 Traveling Dogs, Rachael noted how the dogs had changed their lives. Meanwhile, the Facebook page “was really taking off,” and she realized it could be a way to bring recognition to those who rescue animals.
“People really responded to it,” she said. “All of a sudden — well, it seemed all of a sudden — we had 1 million fans last year.”
Meanwhile, the housing collapse in California had an impact on the Johnsons, who went back to Florida and began making dog treats, called Your Dog’s Diner, with the intent to grow the company and return to California. The treat mixes were featured in BarkBox, a popular monthly subscription service, and ready-made treats also were available.
The couple decided to sell their Florida house again, but then another idea came to them. Instead of returning to California, the Johnsons chose to buy an RV and travel the country.
“Brickle and Digby changed our lives, and so many out there don’t have this chance,” Rachael said. “We saw that we have this platform where we can bring nationwide awareness to rescue groups in each state. We focus on the smaller groups that might not get as much attention.”
When she was researching Mississippi organizations, Tired Dog Rescue immediately got Rachael’s attention.
“First of all, the name got me, then the faces on the Facebook page,” she said. “I could tell immediately” this was the group she, Nathan and Brickle and Digby would visit.
“These dogs were not only physically but also perhaps mentally damaged” by their previous experiences, she said.
Tired Dog Rescue is a small-breed rescue nonprofit based in Gulfport with a focus on cocker spaniels and miniature Schnauzers. Instead of living in a facility, rescued dogs live in foster homes while awaiting adoption or going through medical treatment.
One of the highlights of the Johnsons’ travels is a weekly live broadcast where Rachael makes a dog treat with the state they’re visiting in mind. At 4 p.m. Sunday, she was planning to make a Mississippi dog treat recipe.
“We have a recipe for every state,” she said. “The Mississippi one will be collard greens with ham hocks.” Find the recipes at yourdogsdiner.com.
About the names
Now about the dogs’ names. Peanut Butter Brickle got his name “because of that flavor of ice cream and his brindle coloring,” Rachael said. “He also happens to like peanut butter cookies.”
Digby Pancake’s story is a little more complicated.
“My husband had a dog named Digby, so this is a way to honor his dog,” she said. “My husband was on a business trip at the time he became available, and he (Nathan) saw him online, so I went to the shelter to check him out. The first thing he did was pee on my purse! He had been a hunting dog and not around people very much. He had just been neutered, and they told me he would always have a little ‘pancake’ in the back, and that he would pee a lot after having his surgery.
“When I brought him home, I thought, ‘I’m going to go crazy. He’s peeing on everything.’ He was just beside himself, having a home. But Brickle taught him to calm down. He’s been an amazing influence on him.”
The two dogs, she said, have very different personalities.
“Brickle is ‘the sheriff’ because he just loves to people watch,” she said. “He polices everything, and I don’t think anything gets past him. Digby is ‘the deputy;’ he’s just content to let Brickle do what he needs to do. He provides backup. They have the biggest personality difference in two dogs that I have ever seen.”