It's all because of her... Suzy. The little muffin of a dog who joined our family one September day in 2005. It was the weekend of Hurricane Katrina and I remember picking her up at her foster home, buckling her up in the car and driving home while she just stared at me - my hand resting on her for reassurance. My husband and I had never lived with a little dog, but I knew from the moment I met her she was the one for us.
Sitting and snuggling with her on our couch watching the awful events and destruction of the hurricane unfold on television, I felt both lucky... and guilty. There I was, starting a new chapter in life with a sweet little dog who had been given up for reasons unknown - while on the same continent right at that moment there were animals losing their homes and the people who kept them safe. Their chapters were ending.
Over the next few days, Suzy would just stare at me and I couldn't tell what she wanted - food? pee break? more belly rubs? Was she was trying to figure out who I was and what was going on?
It was the feeling I had on that weekend - of wanting to help reassure other animals who are at a crossroads in their lives - which led me to begin volunteering at the Victoria SPCA. And since 2006 I've helped organize fundraisers, given countless Humane Education presentations with Suzy at my side, walked a lot of dogs, and rubbed a lot of bellies. I guess there are many reasons why I want to help animals - shelter animals in particular - but essentially it all boils down to this... that as humans, we've domesticated certain animals - brought them into our world and made them assimilate into our lives - therefore it’s up to us to help look out for them with care and compassion and love, because they can't speak up for themselves.
In honour of our little Suzy who passed away peacefully yesterday after sharing the last eight years of her life with us, I thought I'd share an excerpt from my first Home Away From Home book. There's so much I can say about her, but honestly, it comes down to the fact that she was the most patient soul I have ever known. She was my co-pilot and my best friend. I told her secrets and she told me hers - well not really, it was a trick to get her to put her cute little nose in my ear - but I'll take what I can get. She was the great equalizer in little dog circles, she made sure everyone got along. Her bark was bigger than her and she liked to announce her arrival wherever she went. But her gentleness with people - from little babies, to those in their 90s - is what I'll remember... that and her soft, warm kisses. She was just three years old when we adopted her... and I had no idea how our lives would change, and how her presence in it would shape our life, our family... for the better. She inspired me and will continue to inspire me ... rest in peace little bum.