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. Maybe she had moved suddenly and failed to chart her path or maybe fatigue and malnourishment caused her to be careless but whatever the case, she could not get back to her pups. They froze to death as she bore witness.
In a short six months, Dulcy became pregnant again. Was this enough time for memories to fade or for a heart to mend even slightly? Did Dulcy feel defiant or hopeful? Did she have it in her sad and neglected self to do it again? She did.
Dog’s pregnancies usually don’t show until they are within weeks of delivering so when Dulcy’s owners found she was heavy with puppies again, they called her a tramp, unchained her and kicked her on her way. In her haste to escape, Dulcy was hit by a car. In some dog’s lives this would be tragic, but in Dulcy’s case I’m sure she looked skyward and gave thanks. Sheer will protected the pups she carried and was determined to love, and the opportunity to be found and rescued saved her life. Dulcy was taken in and cared for until she gave birth to seven healthy pups and put on the southbound train.
The name Dulcy means sweetness and I gave it to her after she so willingly shared the light of her spirit with me. She had found her way and raised her pups to be balanced, hopeful and happy. How she had that to give is still beyond me.
It was February of 2007 when Dulcy, who was dog # 367, led me to Evelyn and her family. They were offering the forever home she so deserved and when we met, I knew they would love and appreciate her always. Dulcy stayed with them that day but we have stayed in touch and I am grateful for that.
This many years later, Evelyn led me to her cousin Dorry. What began, over a decade ago with a dog, has become a gift I am surprised and honoured by. During a time when I was experiencing self-doubt and sadness, a woman who is facing her own serious health concerns, cared deeply enough to act on behalf of a stranger. Evelyn thought what I had written about my brain tumour journey might interest her cousin Dorry so she coaxed her into reading my blogs. Dorry did so and called me the next day. She generously praised my writing and explained how my words had moved her. I thanked her profusely but confessed to not really being a writer. I simply write as a voice for the dogs. She corrected me, saying I wrote from my soul and that made me a writer of standing.
We spoke for some time and I felt the strength of her being and the generosity of her spirit. She then offered the reason for her call. Dorry had nominated me for a Woman of Courage award with the Endless Possibilities & Hope Development Organization. They had already chosen their ten recipients for the year but agreed to include me as the eleventh recipient based on my work with the dogs, personal struggles and writing. I knew immediately just how much I wanted this honour so didn’t even pretend modesty. It wasn’t vanity or ego but simply the personal glory I felt over being considered a writer. I have received great encouragement from friends and supporters over the years but this formal recognition convinced me they weren’t just being kind. Even when I was told the Award Gala was being held the night of the reunion, I didn’t question my stamina or wardrobe demands but promised to make it to Toronto on time.
The applause I received after announcing the reason Paul and I would be leaving the reunion early brought tears to my eyes. The dogs have always been my reward for the work we do, so to think others thought I deserved more was staggeringly wonderful. I wished I could have shared the evening with all of them but our fundraiser took priority so their support stayed behind.
Practicality has dictated what we wear and the hours we keep for years so suddenly requiring formal garb for a late evening took preparation. I felt the Woman of Courage award demanded heals so I was determined to stand tall in them despite my recent knee surgery.
The evening was beautiful. Fairy lights strung through trees and soft fabric draping the stage made everything feel magical while the harmony of all in attendance reminded me that many do the work of the world and that there was hope for goodness in some corners. Eight people shared a table with Paul and I. The family who had adopted Dulcy so many years ago had come to celebrate with us so she too was part of the evening. I met Dorry for the first time and her sense of joy added to the privilege of newfound friendship. Her husband and daughter were there as well and I was grateful for their interest and support.
When my name was called to come forward to accept the award the entire table of nine rose with me. We danced together as we made our way to the stage and, for the first time in years, I felt like the young girl I once had been. Age had deprived me of some movement but in that moment in time, whilst wearing midnight blue patent pumps, I danced and laughed with the full belief that life was good.
In giving thanks for the award of Courage and Care I suggested we all try harder to live up to the teachings of animals. That brought the second round of applause for the day and I was glad. I then voiced the pride I felt in speaking on behalf of dogs and that I hoped never to disappoint them. At some point, Dorry took the microphone from me and announced to the room that they all had to watch out for my book. She spoke about a blessed talent I had and asked the room to pray for my strength and wellness. There is, of course, no book but that didn’t matter to Dorry. Just her believing there will be one was enough to make it happen. And looking over to see the sparkle in her eyes made me believe it too. I am sure few ever doubt Dorry’s power of purpose, and I certainly don’t. Most importantly though, a dog named Dulcy led me to that place in time and I felt the glory and the grace.