I lost a piece of my heart this morning. Monty wasn’t “just a dog”. He was special. He came to me at 13 months of age through Calgary Lab Rescue. He was the last of several dogs being rehomed from a breeder who was going out of business. Several people had gone to look at him, but no one wanted him because he was so timid and fearful. He was scheduled to be euthanized the following week if no one stepped up.

When I arrived to see him, he cowered in the back of his kennel cab. I sat on the floor beside it with my hand inside. After several minutes, he sniffed it. After 45 minutes, I managed to coax him out. I was taking him home on a three day trial – a “foster to adopt” process. The breeder told me that he would probably not be willing to get into the back of my station wagon, but he jumped right in. I decided that he would not be going back there, and took him straight to the vet where he was neutered and cleaned up because he was so dirty and smelled terrible.

He was skinny – just 55 pounds. He had scabs all over his face and his teeth were already badly worn. He was petrified of going through doorways – it seemed like he’d been kicked in or out. It took him four years to stay near me when I had a snow brush in my hand instead of running and cowering.

It took him about four years also to trust my friends and not hide behind me when meeting someone new. He learned to conquer his fears and trust that people wouldn’t hurt him. He was an inspiration to me. He demonstrated such courage in overcoming the things that had once terrified him. He was such a tender soul and often seemed too gentle for this world. I was privileged to share his life for nine years.

I am grateful that he hung on until I was strong enough to be able to say goodbye without having it crush me. He was by my side while I battled cancer, lying beside the couch where I could rest my hand on him for comfort. Thank-you for being there for me when I needed you. I’ll carry you in my heart always.

Jocelyn Monty