In Lehigh Acres, Florida, there are a dozen and a half dogs who are living out their wildest locomotive dreams.
A retired couple named Paul and Alice Johnston are the very definition of “dog lovers,” and they have a full house to prove it. They’ve even become a favorite neighborhood spectacle when, every Friday, they chug around their community in a train full of pups!
Ten years ago, the retired Johnstons moved to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, with four dogs, three parrots, and three cats in tow. The longer they lived there, the more they began noticing injured and abandoned strays all around the city. Soon enough, the two of them started fixing their neighborhood dogs up, giving them shots and cleaning their wounds.
Before they knew it, they were parents to a whopping 19 dogs!
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“When we would have one that we couldn’t find a home for, we adopted. Of course we thought, mhm 19 dogs — it’s going to be a nightmare,” Alice told NBC2 News.
Still, they grew to love these animals so much that they couldn’t imagine parting with them. As Alice told USA Today, “Once we adopt them, they’re family.”
The lovebirds have since returned to the U.S. and settled in Florida, where they’ve developed a brand new pet-inspired passion: the Wonderland Express.
When walking all 19 of their dogs at once became too challenging, the Johnstons decided to put together a “puppy train” pulled by a lawn mower so the whole family could take a weekly cruise around town.
“Some people think we’re crazy,” Paul said. “It’s probably true.”
Even though two of their dogs, Big Mommy and Snappy, typically forego the weekly ride, the rest of the troupe bolt straight to the Wonderland Express the minute they hear Paul rev the lawn mower’s engine.
Their neighbors love it just as much as the fur babies do! Every Friday, passersby stop in their tracks to wave and take photos of the Johnston caravan. Paul leads the crew up front, while Alice trails the caboose on her bike.
“People videotape us every Friday. It’s so funny, people will bring their dogs out to see us, and they’ll bring their children out to see us,” Alice said. “We knew it was a big hit in the community. It’s funny because sometimes they wave at the dogs, and I’m thinking, ‘I wish my dogs could wave back,’ cause they would.”
As much fun as the humans have, the train is ultimately all for the dogs. Not only is it a blast for the pups, but it’s also a way for Paul and Alice to encourage people to adopt!
“We have adoptions signs, just to give people an idea to let them know what we’re doing,” the couple said.
We’re so thankful for pet parents like Paul and Alice, who constantly remind us just how lucky we humans are to have dogs in our lives!
Watch an adorable video of their puppy train below, and share this fun story with a fellow dog lover.
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