Heart­break and a hero

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

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.

Steve Wad­den - Cape Bre­ton Post

A pic­ture which touched hearts across the coun­try — Chance trav­el­ling in the hearse dur­ing the fu­neral of sev­enyear-old James Delorey.

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