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.
I introduced our most recent dog, Stowe and explained that she too had been hit by a vehicle in Attawapiskat and needed our help. I couldn’t speak to how she confounded me though or how I hadn’t been able to feel who she was. I wouldn’t admit to not knowing what to do for her or what I even hoped for. It was rare but I simply didn’t know this dog.
Her eyes were blank when we met and her spirit was dimmed to the point of darkness. She had nothing to offer and was giving up. I sat with her quietly and asked only for a moment of trust. She turned her head away and that is when her name came to me. It was if she had stowed away within herself, hidden from understanding, hope and expectation. My words, as soft and gentle as they may have been, meant nothing to her. I was unsure but since my presence wasn’t agitating her, I stayed.
We sat apart in silence until, after some time, she turned her head back to me. I gave her time to consider and to want something from me. I placed my hand on the floor in front of her but she didn’t acknowledge the gesture in anyway. She had bitten before but now little seemed to matter to her. I imagine she no longer knew what to look for or to expect. I reached in to touch her and she allowed me to stroke her face and run my hand over the back of her head. We were coming to an understanding and while neither one of us knew just what that was, she had given me all she had and that was enough.
The vets were appalled by the brutality of her condition. The x-rays showed she had not only been hit by a vehicle but more than likely run over by it too. Her pelvic bone was shattered and severed from any attachment to the rest of her body. There were only two options for Stowe and we chose to save her. She needed a specialist to repair the pelvic damage but there was no way of knowing if there was neurological or nerve damage as well. We wouldn’t know until she was standing and moving under her own free will again. Stowe is just five months old. She hasn’t lived long enough to know all that is good or to feel enough tender touches. She hasn’t known adoration. This dog deserved all we could give her.
Stowe was operated on in Espanola. On arrival, we were asked for a down payment of $2100. She endured three separate surgeries to reattach her pelvic bone to her hip, her spine and to the metal plates inserted for strength. The orthopedic surgeon said it was the worst pelvic break he had ever seen. The down payment was a mere dent in Stowe’s overall care but it was worth it to see light dawning in her eyes. Her spirit has a soft glow now and she is beginning to understand hope, trust and touch. We touched foreheads when we picked her up from the clinic in Espanola and this time, she understood the words I softly whispered to her. It will take ten weeks of care before her ordeal is over but she has begun and I know, from personal experience, that you can see the finish line from there.
A mountain was most definitely moved that day when people gathered with their dogs. When MPR supporters are asked for help they give it. None of us ever want to let a dog down. Those who could not make the event donated and those who attended purchased items from the So Said the Dogs collection and chose Silent Tears, Loud Joy and Wings of Thought pieces of jewelry. Some donated as well. I personally was offered words of hope and appreciation and I am grateful for a day that gave so much. Much is still needed so please contribute to Stowe’s well being if you haven’t already and hold her in your thoughts as she finds her way to happy ever after. My thanks.