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 caliber 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 dependent. 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. It took them even longer to venture out of the laundry room where their beds and food were. They had lived within the confines of a small crate for almost five years and didn’t know how to trust space. They were confounded by touch, a soft voice, and choice. Witnessing their confusion broke my heart. Just thinking of number 1,262 still warms my heart and makes me smile. Cole was one of several chocolate labs that came down from Attawapiskat. They had been used in a failed breeding attempt and had suffered terribly by being left outside in weather conditions their short coats could not protect them from. Cole was determined though and he refused to allow his sense of pride and honour to be diminished in any way. He came to us in need, but with his head held high. He was far more concerned with our welfare than he was with his own and he gave much more than he took. My adoration of him has not faded since his rescue in May of 2014.

There are countless litters between the numbers 1,300 and 1,500 that made me laugh out loud. There is nothing more endearing than watching a five-week-old pup attempt to pounce on something that is still a good foot or two away from him or her. Listening to the chatter of the yips and yelps always reminded me of beginnings and possibilities. Holding a pup close and sharing heartbeats gave me a strength that never waned or faded.

There is remembered sadness too of course. A four-week-old pup I named Justice taught me that a name can be too much to carry at times. The dogs get a number when they are placed, and this little boy didn’t live long enough for a forever home. He knew love and comfort briefly though because I held him as he passed. He doesn’t need a number to be remembered.  

I loved them all and I am grateful for knowing each and every one of them. The 7th annual reunion on September 22nd could very well be the last time I get to visit with the dogs that gave me such purpose so I am hoping many will attend.  When and where else can an abundance of MPR dogs come together with their people to share a day of commonality, shared instincts and boasting? The dogs led us to one another and It will be a day none of us will forget.

September 22, 2018, noon till 4 pm, Milford Bay Community Centre (just outside Bracebridge, hwy 118 & Beaumaris Rd.) Tickets $20 / Contact Sharron,