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.
Recalling our rescue missions spoke to the determination and commitment it takes from many to get the job done. We worked with Best Friends Animal Sanctuary during Hurricane Katrina and brought fifteen dogs back from New Orleans. One was a blind and deaf German Shepherd I named Miss Lillian. She only lived for another three weeks but she was loved dearly for each of her remaining days. The Mile 26 rescue took place just north of Cochrane and it required heroic efforts on the part of those who boarded the train not knowing what to expect when they arrived at the burnt-out cabin of a recluse who had died in a bush fire. Up to one hundred of his dogs were left to fend for themselves. The SPCA were not responding because they claimed all the dogs were feral. Rescue organizations believed the dogs still deserved a chance though so we worked together to give them one. MPR set up a base camp beside the tracks and waited to see what the rail truck brought out. We had all agreed that if we rescued just one dog it was worth the effort so saving twenty pups and sixty-four adult dogs was more that worthwhile, it was a glorious.
There was fun to remember as well. Like the summer we provided fifteen pups for a movie being filmed in Sault Saint Marie. The producer wanted to showcase rescue dogs so we spent three days keeping the pups cool and happy while they awaited their scenes. After the movie Foxfire was screened at the Toronto Film Festival the dogs became overnight sensations.
New memories begin every day though so there really are no goodbyes in rescue work. Thirteen unwanted pups were just born in Attawapiskat and they are on their way to us. Thirteen new names to bestow and just as many stories to be told, so we continue. Changes will be made but we need to find a way that doesn’t let the dogs down.
I thank everyone who attended the reunion as well as those who sent their well wishes. It takes a village and you are all in ours. The day truly was perfect and the evening was as well. Paul and I attended a gala event in Toronto where I received the Global Inspiration Award for Courage and Care by the Endless Possibilities and Hope Development Organization. It was an honour I am most grateful for. I will tell more of the story when I can as it is one of goodness and connection.