Sad end­ing days af­ter un­usual res­cue

Digby County man, dog die days apart


An un­usual and sad turn of events unfolded last week af­ter a Digby County man and his best friend, his dog, had made an un­usual res­cue days ear­lier.

The dog and his mas­ter both died days af­ter their dra­matic res­cue of a starv­ing bald ea­gle that had dropped from the sky be­fore them. (See story on this page.)

The bald ea­gle ul­ti­mately didn’t sur­vive ei­ther.

Ger­ald LeBlanc and his pet boxer, Rusty, had been re­lax­ing on their Belliveaus Cove doorstep when the ea­gle crash landed five feet in front of them, in the back of LeBlanc’s parked truck.

Days later, a sad and un­for­tu­nate se­quence of events en­sued.

On Wed­nes­day, Oct. 17, a day af­ter the res­cue, Rusty suc­cumbed to heart fail­ure. On Fri­day, Oct. 19, LeBlanc died the ex­act same way.

It would ap­pear he died of a bro­ken heart.

“I would say it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Louise LeBlanc, Ger­ald’s sis­ter and caregiver. “He wasn’t well and then he loses his best friend. He used to say the dog never dis­ap­pointed him, that there was no­body like Rusty.

“You couldn’t sep­a­rate them. Peo­ple here said if you saw Rusty, you saw Ger­ald. If you saw Ger­ald, you saw Rusty. I used to watch him take Rusty for a walk in the morn­ing, they’d sit on a bench on the board­walk and by damn you’d swear they were com­mu­ni­cat­ing like best friends.”

She said her brother had been plagued by se­ri­ous heart and res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions, in­clud­ing chronic lung dis­ease and pneu­mo­nia. But she said Ger­ald, a tal­ented car­pen­ter, per­se­vered, saw the best in peo­ple and held an en­dur­ing af­fec­tion for an­i­mals.

“Very car­ing, he didn’t ma­lign peo­ple. Look at the ea­gle. Some peo­ple would have hit him with the back of a shovel and that would be the end of it. That wasn’t Ger­ald, he’d take in stray dogs and spend hours with Rusty walk­ing along the marshes be­low Belliveaus Cove.

“He re­ally wanted to feel good but was hav­ing a hard time with his dis­eases.”

Murdo Messer, chair­man and co-founder of Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre, con­firmed that the ea­gle also died days later. He said the an­i­mal was so ema­ci­ated from star­va­tion that it could not re­cover. Messer, who han­dled and treated the ea­gle, said he didn’t think the bird played any role in the death of the dog or its owner.

“It’s a very sad turn of events and my con­do­lences go out to the LeBlanc fam­ily,” said Messer.

As sad as it all is, Louise chooses to see mean­ing in her loss.

“Life is frag­ile, very frag­ile. You en­joy life and he en­joyed life. He en­joyed his dog so much. To me, that was so im­por­tant to him.”

She thinks of Rusty much the same as his best friend once did.

“We miss the dog as much as we miss Ger­ald. You know, box­ers are su­per dogs. I don’t think I could have an­other be­cause this lit­tle guy got in my whole heart. He was very sen­si­tive and intuitive but he was also a spoiled ras­cal.”

Do­na­tions can be made to Cobe­quid Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Ger­ald LeBlanc’s mem­ory.


Ger­ald LeBlanc is shown with his pet boxer Rusty re­cently.

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