Cause for Ap­plause

Go­ing the ex­tra mile to en­sure the safety and well-be­ing of a four-legged friend

Our Canada - - Contents - By Larry Brigham, Thun­der Bay

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.

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