Heartbreak and a hero
There are images which stay with you forever.
The sight of Chance in the hearse during seven-year-old Jam e s D e l o re y ’s funeral Dec. 14, which captured the hearts of people across the country, is one.
James’s mother Veronica Fraser said they consider their dog a hero and the public agrees as people have flocked from near and far to visit Chance.
Fraser has seen pictures of their dog on the Internet.
“I have gone online and seen pictures of people posing with Chance on our street, pictures we didn’t even know about.”
Fraser, her husband Jason Delorey and son Jesse, 9, have returned to Cape Breton from western Canada and are staying with Veronica’s parents George and Donna Fraser in South Bar.
James was lost in the woods near the Fraser home Dec. 5. It is believed Chance followed him and kept him warm. Two days later Chance came home alone. As one group of searchers was following the dog’s tracks, another group of searchers found James about 1.3 kilometres from the family’s home. He was airlifted to the IWK hospital in Halifax, but died of hypothermia several hours later.
The family is amazed by the attention Chance has generated.
While preparing for the funeral for her son, Fraser said officials from Holy Redeemer Church called wanting to know if they were bringing the dog.
“ The priest said, ‘Oh you have to bring him in, everyone is asking to see the dog, they want him here.’”
The day of the funeral Sheldon Chant of Chant’s Funeral Home, who was driving the hearse, approached the family.
“He said, ‘I want the dog sitting up front with me.’”
In the days that followed Fraser says Chance continuously scratched at the door to get out. She believes he wanted to go back in the woods for James. They decided they had to take Chance to the funeral home, so he would know James wasn’t in the woods anymore.
“ We lifted him up at the casket so he could see James.”
George Fraser said the family got Chance when he was only a couple of months old. His daughter Laura had gotten a pup which was hit by a car a few days later and three of her friends showed up with Chance.
“ We had dogs before which had gotten killed, so I said this is our last chance with a dog,” said Donna Fraser. “ That’s where his name came from.”
Donna said the traffic to their door was continuous throughout their ordeal.
“Many were strangers. They would come in and start crying, we would end up consoling them. Some would just drive by with kids in the car and we figured they wanted to see Chance, so we would let him out.”
The Sydney Animal Hospital has offered the family free checkups for life for Chance and Brett’s Pet Depot in Sydney donated a bag of treats and a free bed.
Donna said they let Chance pick out the bed himself.
“ We took him in the store, he sniffed around and picked one he liked.”
There are many other memorable moments for the family, including when a Membertou man — who lost a child 12 years ago — showed up at their door with an eagle feather.
“He wanted us to have this feather,” Donna said. “ They believe when eagles go up and you don’t see them anymore, they are visiting God. It was very heartwarming.”
Veronica Fraser said they have received many touching cards from as far as Africa — which she has neatly sorted in a special box, with sections for family, friends and kind strangers.
She showed me an emotional memorial to James, sent by the Society for Treatment of Autism in Calgary, where he was attending when they lived out west.
Each page was full of pictures of the little boy with various entries by people associated with the school, recalling favourite memories of James.
Veronica’s eyes fill with tears while turning the pages.
“I just can’t put this down,” she said.
The family has a battle ahead of them and Cape Bretoners have proven they are not alone. GLACE BAY — The Glace Bay Hospital ladies auxiliary will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m.
The meeting takes place in the board room on the fourth floor of the hospital. New members are always welcome.
The auxiliary meets on the first Wednesday of every month.
For more information telephone Eleanor MacDonald, auxiliary president, 849-6741.
A picture which touched hearts across the country — Chance travelling in the hearse during the funeral of sevenyear-old James Delorey.