DULCY, GLORY & GRACE

DULCY, GLORY & GRACE

I wasn’t surprised that it was Dulcy who led me to a moment in time I will remember always. She was born in Moose Factory and her story broke my heart. The life that followed her rescue mended it though. Dulcy spent her first years confined outside and she was fed when the people who lived in the house she was chained to remembered. When in heat, she was vulnerable to the packs of male dogs that roamed the community so her pregnancies were of no surprise. Dulcy had a kind and generous soul though, so she welcomed her pups with love.  

The chain never left her neck so, after giving birth, her challenges were great. All mother dogs are protective, but northern dogs need to be vigilant. In addition to the bitter cold of winter, constant threats loomed over Dulcy’s shoulder but she was unable to shelter her pups because her chain kept them all in plain sight. She would travel the full length of her chain and circle her pups if she felt fear or move the full distance she was allowed when her bodily functions demanded she do so. She would not have wanted to scent near her pups.  

Dulcy’s pups were just days old when she moved away from them and her chain became too tangled for her to make her way back. A fallen tree branch had become encrusted in snow and acted as an anchor holding her in place.

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MEMORIES SHARED

MEMORIES SHARED

In a quiet moment, when I am alone I am often lulled into a state of sensibility. I see things as they should or need to be and I understand, logically, what must happen. It was during one of these moments that I came to accept how time had changed me and altered my abilities.  All I had once done was no longer possible. The will and the want were still there but I needed a new way.  

The September 22nd reunion gave me hope. The 76 dogs in attendance rejuvenated my soul and the kindness of almost 100 people warmed my heart.

In an attempt to say goodbye, I gave a presentation highlighting MPR’s accomplishments and shared our moments of laughter, joy and awe.  I remembered Callie, whose name was short for calibre because she came to us with a bullet lodged in her neck. She had been left for dead at the dump in Moosonee but managed to drag herself out and away where she was found by kids who saved her. I spoke about Hepburn, the first dog to come to us so injured she might have lost her leg. The thought of amputation was horrific to me so we spent much of our personal savings so she could keep it. Little Hobbs, the pup whose lower leg had been cut off with an axe just because he had crawled into the wrong dog house one cold winter night was not as fortunate. What was left of his leg did need to be amputated but he taught us that it mattered not a bit to a dog with joy in his heart. Martha was the first dog to come to us pregnant and I spent twelve hours in the whelping box with her keeping her calm. Together we delivered eight remarkable little beings and I witnessed the first breath each one took. Only once did I unknowingly place a pregnant dog. The woman who adopted Eaton was a first-time dog owner so only I found the situation funny. The task of naming 1,500 dogs was certainly something to remember. The Christmas litters were especially challenging so one year we had a Jewish litter in order to expand the name choices. Yetta, Latke, Temple and Saul will forever be favourites.    

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PLEASE BE THERE

PLEASE BE THERE

It was good to discover that, while a brain tumour crowds’ part of my head, wonderfully fond memories are able to push it aside so I can remember the many dogs who have come through our doors over the years. In preparation for the upcoming reunion September 22nd, I worked my way through the adoption binders, recording the sequence of each dog’s arrival. I paused at number 29, a pup I named Buffalo because he looked liked the tiniest miniature of one. I can still feel his little body sitting in the palm of my hand as I worried that I had overdosed him on worm medication. I hadn’t, but there was much to learn in October of 2003. Cally, number 59, was named after the calibre of bullet that was lodged in her neck. She had dragged herself out of the dump, where she had been left for dead, and was found by kids who knew what to do. No matter her sufferings, Cally was a sweet and gentle dog. Forgiveness had released the burden of her struggles. Number 66 surprised me because it seems I am still bothered that her name was changed from Hattie to Bones. I loved the name I gave her and it suited her. Letting go never became easy.  Garth and Dorsey, numbers 191 and 192, were the first set of twins to arrive. They were Yellow Labs that had been used as breeders at a puppy mill in Quebec. It took time for them to learn independence from one another because one had become overly responsible and the other utterly dependant. In time though, they each found their own way. Coach and Iris, numbers 498 and 499, also came from a puppy mill and it took them three days to come out from under a table.

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IT'S BEEN A WHILE

IT'S BEEN A WHILE

I felt sorry for myself a bit. This surgery didn’t feel right. I wasn’t ready for it but there was no choice. If I wanted to rid myself of some pain and walk freely I had to show up. So, I did. But I didn’t want to. I felt depleted of fortitude and the necessary will to overcome. Personal situations had caused months of doubting what I had once believed about myself and life had shifted drastically. Worry over my brain tumour paled in comparison to recently lost relationships.

I had endured the death of Stillwater, my great white bush dog from the Mile 26 rescue as well as the passing of Lady Rose, the wildish dog that had taken me a year to gentle. Huck, our mighty male, was diagnosed with bladder cancer and there is nothing to be done for him other than love and comfort. This was the dog that had been given a life expectancy of eighteen months due to a heart murmur that was supposed to defeat him. Instead, we will lose Huck in his twelfth year of life. I told myself what I needed to in order to keep going. There were rescue dogs that needed care and I couldn’t let them down. It wasn’t their fault they had come in our sixteenth year of work when we were tired and worn. I reminded myself of what Mission, a German Shepard dog, had taught me about endurance - “give all you can, then all you thought you couldn’t.  

It was the death of Ruth, my angel of light, that finally broke me though. She was the first rescue dog we kept for ourselves years ago and she was mine. When I was lost, Ruth knew the way. The light of her spirit guided me to where I was meant to be and she went with me.  

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Stowe

Stowe

June 16th was a day when people, who are grateful to share their lives with dogs, came together. They gathered in a large room, with their dogs, to breathe deeply, smile, laugh out loud and be reminded how easily a stranger can become a friend when introduced by his or her dog. Then, they moved a mountain of need through their generous goodwill.

Many came eager to meet Tom, the dog from Attawapiskat that had been hit by a car and needed six weeks of crate rest in order to save his broken back leg. He was there in all his youthful glory. All dogs were celebrated and some were honoured. We had a parade of rescue dogs that included Taz, a chihuahua mix with a heart murmur who once lived in a teepee in Moose Factory. He is now a thriving city dog. There was Liza, a pup who could easily have died in the barrenness of an Attawapiskat winter but was rescued with her mom and siblings instead. She became a St. John’s Ambulance Therapy dog who comforted the people of North York after the brutal van attack on Yonge St. street just months ago. Sally joined the parade to represent all the northern dogs who delivered litter after litter for years before being rescued. Pirate Jack was in attendance and meant to participate as the one-eyed-pup who braved his way into a wonderful life but sadly a technical glitch in the presentation caused him to be overlooked. He more than deserved to be included and would have shown how the loss of one part simply makes room for more grace and dignity. My apologies Pirate. All dogs have a story, and these rescues told theirs well.

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THIS MOMENT

THIS MOMENT

I am made to wonder what could possibly be wrong in the world when I am able to feel both the warmth of the sun and the softness of a summer’s breeze as I stand outside with the dogs. In this moment all is well.  If I think about the next moment or so though I will be reminded that the worry has returned, so I won’t.

The doctors can worry for now. The results from the new tests, examining the new symptoms, will be known soon enough so until then, I’ll take deep breaths.

It isn’t denial that causes me to distract myself but choices. I know surgery is imminent, and not just for the brain tumour. Knee surgery has already been scheduled for July. I distract myself because I need to and because I can. There is much to do, and I have a purpose.

June 16th is our fundraiser in Toronto and the thought of seeing so many of you there with your dogs keeps me looking forward. It may be the last time I get to share my thoughts on dogs and speak about

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