Ten years ago my fur child was born. It was a rather dismal day in central Ontario, chilly with a bitter pre-winter bite to the wind. That last day of October 2006 started as normal as could be, minus the caramel coloured Dachshund who was progressing slowly in her labour. Just before midnight, Dora’s mom was rushed to the local animal hospital in distress. She had laboured all day without showing any signs of advancement. In a panic, she was taken into surgery, given an emergency C-section and, by some Halloween miracle, delivered five female puppies without incident. No tricks or treats were exchanged on the night Dora was born; her canine family only survived by mere minutes – the vet later said that if the owner had waited another hour to bring her mom in all would have been lost.
Fast-forward seven and half weeks and I’m bringing an exuberant three-pound fuzz ball home for Christmas. I had never been responsible for a puppy before so I was suffering from new fur-mom anxiety. I puppy proofed EVERYTHING, lost a copious amount of sleep in order to bathroom train her, and read any book I could get my hands on to teach me how to NOT get her to eat the fringe on my carpet. (That last one was all for not, the carpet went in the garbage the following summer – there was no hope.) Since the day I brought her home my life has never been the same. I didn’t initially set out to get a dog; the circumstances that brought Dora and I together were a bit of whirlwind mixed with random coincidences of perfect timing. Looking back now I truly believe that Dora and I were meant to find each other. Fate stepped in and destiny took hold.
Dora and I have been very lucky in our ten years together. With her having such a laid back and calm temperament, we were permitted to volunteer as a certified therapy dog team for over seven years. Engaging with the community in such a capacity took us to an array of places where we interacted with countless numbers of people, many of whom we would have never had the chance to without our special “clearance”. Dora has been featured in newspapers, magazines, on the evening news, in a documentary, and even on a morning radio show. It’s now easier for me to just refer to myself as her personal assistant – which I’m 100% okay with. Out of everyone we have had the pleasure of interacting with, I know first hand the great impact she makes just by sitting next to someone during a rough time, as she has done the same for me a myriad of times over. I simply cannot imagine my life without her – she preserves the joy in my heart and is my soul wrapped in a fur coat.
As this milestone birthday approaches for my sweet baby girl, I have spent a great deal of time contemplating how to celebrate it. I am no stranger to throwing birthday parties for my dog, I’ve done more than my share of Halloween themed get-togethers where attendees enjoyed pumpkin-shaped cake while Dora stared blankly at them – she never did appreciate good party planning! And while I have talked about throwing a “paw-ty in the park” with her closest canine friends, something about it just doesn’t feel right. Then, after remembering the close call that almost didn’t bring her into this world, I thought it only appropriate to help others who may be experiencing a pet crisis of their own.
I have been very fortunate in that I’ve been able to afford pet insurance so that any vet bills, no matter how great, will be covered – and there have been quite a few. Dora lives up to her name and gets in all kinds of exploring related “situations” – the most epic being when she ripped out a toe nail after pulling a lamp off a table while chasing a spider – true story. In contrast, however, there are many people who simply do not have the same means or ability to pay for necessary surgeries or emergency medical care. In no way are these animals less loved or wanted, just victims of circumstance. Having been a huge supporter of the Farley Foundation for years, it seems fitting to run a fundraiser in honour of Dora’s 10th birthday – one that will hopefully raise enough money to help another family care for their beloved pet in a time of need. The Farley Foundation is a not-for-profit charity that works with Ontario veterinarians to supplement pet medical costs for low-income families, including seniors, persons with disabilities, or those who are going through their own (human) health crisis. The organization also partners with the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association on the SafePet program, a project that offers temporary foster care for pets belonging to victims of domestic violence. The program not only offers a safe haven for the pets but also gives their humans peace of mind while they seek shelter, all without having to worry about leaving their beloved fur-companions behind in an unsafe environment.
So, in honour of Dora’s 10th birthday, I am making it a fundraising goal to raise $1,000 for the Farley Foundation between October 31st (Dora’s birthday) and December 21st, 2016 (the anniversary of when I brought her home.) I think it is more than an attainable objective and one that will help families, both human and furry, stay together and start the New Year in a happy and healthy way.
If you would like to contribute to this cause as well as learn more about the incredible work the Farley Foundation is doing, please visit Dora’s fundraising page by clicking the title below:
Happy 10th Birthday to my little Hallo-weenie!
And a BIG thanks to all of YOU!