Cause for Applause
Going the extra mile to ensure the safety and well-being of a four-legged friend
My wife, Cathy, and I always enjoyed having pets but we had decided not to bring another dog into our lives after the passing of our sweet Molly. Usually, dogs can live into their teens and if we were to get a new one, we felt it would be unfair to the dog if we got too old to take care of it. Tundra, however, quickly changed that reasoning.
Many dogs in northern Ontario are born into packs near isolated First Nations communities and left to fend for themselves. Northern Lights Dog Rescue is one of several groups who ensure these dogs are inoculated, saved, placed in good homes and not shot, which would be the likely outcome if left there.
Tundra was rescued at 18 months of age by this organization and a dear friend of mine, Jim Pare, found himself a wonderful companion.
At the time, Jim’s life wasn’t easy. He was separated from his second wife and had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a very serious form of bone cancer, and had ended up in the hospital for a lengthy stint. It got to the point where he was having trouble getting around, even with a walker, and it made him very frustrated. Jim had such a big heart and despite being in poor condition, his main concern was always to ensure Tundra’s safety, so he had him placed in a kennel.
Cathy and I are dog lovers, but we had two of our own at the time and didn’t feel we could extend to a third.
Amazingly, Jim went into remission, and was able to return to the Dorion Bible Camp, northeast of Thunder Bay, where he worked as a building custodian. He was able to resume life with Tundra; however, it did not last long because of the nature of Jim’s illness. He became more and more bedridden, and Tundra, used to daily walks, needed more attention. Our trailer was only five minutes
from Jim’s home, so we visited often and encouraged him to fight this disease. Jim started walking once again! He was delighted to be able to move to the Ottawa area to live with his daughter, Christa, in a duplex in Renfrew, Ont., and of course, Tundra accompanied them.
I talked with Jim a couple of times after he’d moved to Renfrew and all seemed to be going well until I read the local paper. I was surprised, shocked and saddened to read that my friend had died on November 25, 2017. Christa had found him dead inside their home and right there with him was Tundra, who wouldn’t leave his side.
Christa told Cathy and me that she could not look after Tundra any longer and wanted us to take care of him.
A NEW BEGINNING
By that time, our two dogs, Max and Molly, had passed away and we were delighted to keep him. The cost of shipping a dog by air was over $800, so Christa contacted Furry Hobos ’n’ Hiway Heroes and made arrangements for Tundra to travel to Thunder Bay by commercial transport. With Christa being a radio host, she was able to document Tundra’s journey, live on air, each day at 4:40 p.m. on her feature “The Good News File” on Valley Heritage Radio.
On January 29, 2018, we met Greg Rumbolt, a commercial truck driver, at the Pass Lake Truck stop outside Thunder Bay. He was transporting not only a huge green combine machine on the back of his rig, but he also had two dogs with him. Lola was on her way to Alberta, and yes, he had Tundra for us. Greg spent 45 minutes with us but had to hit the road again, as he still had to pick up another dog in Winnipeg and take him out west. Cathy provided him with a warm, homemade meal and some dog food for any future canine passengers.
Margaret FosterHyde, who coordinates this service, at no charge might I add, estimates they have reunited over 400 dogs and owners to date. Due to their efforts, Furry Hobos ‘n’ Hiway Heroes have been nominated for a national award through the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.
ONE YEAR LATER
Tundra has been with us for almost a year now, and adjusting to a 90-pound crossbreed between a Lab and a husky has been easier than you’d expect. He gets along well with other dogs and humans of all ages. He is quite talkative and has instituted a daily seniors’ fitness walking program for Cathy and me. He never forgets to remind us of the schedule either. It is usually two or three times a day, but he has the courtesy to turn away from the door if it’s raining. The Lab part of him loves to sleep on a loveseat, while the husky part feels a snowbank is the most appropriate place for a nap. His favourite food, even beyond doggy treats, is popcorn. He is a very bright dog and seems to understand everything we say. At six years old, he still loves to run beside my bike at our trailer site. What’s even more interesting about him is that the early part of his life has remained ingrained in his mind. If he sees a hare, he either goes into a stalking pose with his body stone still, nose pointing, and one foot raised in anticipation, or he runs for an attempted but futile catch. He makes us smile when he is given what he regards as a wonderful meal. He will find a toy pig that makes oinking sounds, bite into it, and fill our home with many loud “thank yous.”
The original concerns we had about having an animal in our later years have been mitigated by the support from extended family. Our life has been wonderfully enriched by so many people who have played a part in this story—the Pare family, the Dorion community Church and children’s camp—and of course, our resilient and amazing dog, Tundra.
Larry, Cathy and Greg Rumbolt at Tundra’s drop-off point at the Pass Lake truck stop in Janury 2018.