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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And So Said the Dogs . . . A Collection of Wisdom

And So Said the Dogs . . . A Collection of Wisdom

I have long admired the brilliant spirit of rescue dogs and how they are able to live in the moment regardless of what has come before and what may follow. I have witnessed dogs raise their heads after severe abuse or injury and marveled at their ability to still believe in goodness. I have held dogs in my arms and promised they will never be harmed again. Each one of these dogs found it in themselves to begin again. I doubted I possessed the same grace and courage.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour, I began my own journey of fear, hope and acceptance. My resolve was shattered a few times and I was shaken more than once but whenever I doubted myself, I thought of the dogs. They do not allow the possibility of future fears to defeat them, they simply cope.

And so said the dogs . . .is a collection that shares the lessons the dogs taught me when I needed them the most. Mission showed me how to endure. She had belonged to a man in Moosonee whom she had loved and trusted. When he left town without her she waited at the train station for over a week but he never returned. She was pregnant and left on the streets to fend for herself. The scars on her face showed how hard

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TOM

TOM

Tom is five months old and never belonged to anyone, ever. Despite being loving, sweet and affectionate this little boy was not claimed by anyone in Attawapiskat after being hit by a car. He had been following three teenage boys when he was hit but they just kept walking. According to a witness, Tom just lay still and didn’t look their way when they left him. He had come to expect as much I guess. Our rescue worker Floyd had been nearby and heard the accident. When he got to Tom he was on his side in the road but conscious. He asked the witness to call the police so they could see for themselves where the dog lay. Because he works with Moosonee Puppy Rescue he too has been accused of stealing dogs. He now takes every precaution so as not to slow down the rescue of a dog in need. The police directed him to put up posters and post on Facebook to find the owners of this starving dog whose coat was filled with grit and grime. The pup was in pain, but no longer alone. We have learned to be grateful for each step in the rescue journey.

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