Thursday, 28 May 2009

A Tale Of Tess.

You hear remarkable tales about the bravery, the sheer determination of our pets, indeed, what I prefer to call, family members.  This is one such tale.  A tale of Tess.

It was the summer of 1986.   The World's Fair, Expo '86, was in full swing in downtown Vancouver.  Every night brought a spectacular fireworks display.  A visual and audio delight, for most.   From our apartment window, my wife and I could see the distant flashes and glows of the pyrotechnics extravaganza.
One night, we decided that it would be fun to witness the fireworks display from the very heart of all the activity.  So off we went in the car, along with Tess, our faithful, loving dog.  Block after city block, we travelled.  Busy roads, plenty of traffic, but we knew how to get to our final destination of False Creek. We both knew our way around Vancouver very well.
Upon our arrival, we proceeded to find a good vantage point to enjoy the evening of fireworks. All was well for the first few minutes.  We marvelled at the sights and sounds.  Then came a very loud boom and flash.  Tess panicked and wriggled her way out of her collar.  We stood there stunned as Tess fled in terror.  Now all we had was her lead still attached to her collar.

We called her name, "Tess! Tess!", all to no avail.  With our voices drowned out by the boom of the fireworks, a sense of hysteria, a real concern for her welfare, began to sink into our thinking process.    What are we going to do?  For ages we searched.  Then the awful reality hit us hard, we must go home, without our beloved dog.

The next day we went back to False Creek and put up several posters with a description of Tess and a contact number.  A few days later, we received a call from a lady who said that a dog fitting the description in the poster, had slept overnight on her porch with her cat.  However, the next morning, the dog had left.  Well, this was a glimmer of hope.  Maybe it was Tess.  Maybe she was alive.

As best one could, we went about our daily business.  Day upon day passed, a day became a week, a week became two, thoughts of Tess became more of a fleeting, yet no less painful thought.  I was about to go to work on the nightshift, only enough time to have a pork chop, before heading out the door.  'Scratch, scratch, thump'.  "What was that?"  We both said in unison.  The sound seemed to be coming from the door.  I rushed over, opened the door and Tess collapsed in the hallway.

Before us lay a terribly thin, bedraggled dog.  Barely able to walk, she limped into the living room.  The extremes of emotion experienced at the moment were so profound.  Joy, elation, admiration, love for a dog that had touched us in more ways than we could have ever imagined.   With tears streaming down my face, I hugged Tess and gave her my pork chop.

Block after city block, she must have wandered, dazed, hungry, scared, confused.  Yet with sheer determination and that uncanny sense that animals possess, she found her way home.  I look back on that very special night and it inspires me.   For if I can show half of the resilience that Tess displayed, I know that I can be a better human.
Then came the day when we had to make one of the hardest decisons of our lives.  We were moving to England and that meant the dreaded quaratine for dogs.  Tess would have to stay in a kennel for six months to be observed for any potential rabies.  We worried, that if we did this, what sort of a dog would she be after the six months.   Reluctantly, sadly, painfully we gave up Tess to a wonderful couple who we knew would provide her with much love.  That was late September 1987, and to this very day, I recall how heartbreaking it was when we drove away from her new home.   Her new life was beginning, our new life was beginning.

Whilst writing this blog, I've had to stop several times.  The tears have been welling up, for as I write this, I experience all those emotions  that happened so many years ago.   As I write this, I have been thinking about this final paragraph and how I would phrase it.  Last year I was in Vancouver and found out what became of Tess.  That couple loved and adored her, that I was assured.  One day Tess got out of their garden.  Poor Tess was run over, her life, a life that brought so much pleasure to others, was ended by an oncoming train.  I was devastated for all concerned.  Upon hearing the news, I visualised Tess in my mind.  I thought of a family member whose love was unconditional and never passed judgement.  A tale of Tess, never forgotten, always loved.


  1. It's amazing how animals can become a big part of lives. I still miss dogs that died years ago, and my two cats, one a five month old kitten and one a 17 yr old boy. They always stay with you.

    Tess sounds a wonderful dog, although I nerver knew her I was welling up as you were talking about her, especially the end. It's amazing how she found her way home - just shows how strong her devotion to you was.

    Take care. Julie xx

  2. thank you for this ,gary,this story is close to my heart,i feel a special bond to tha dogs we shared our lives with.when dear ,gentle patch became severely ill,we were faced with the decision, of whether to let him live in constant agony,orlet him slip away ,and be put to sleep.this awful dilemma broke my heart,but we could not allow him to suffer was the onlyanswer.i still love hhim ,his affeectionate gentle ways,his little quirks,the bond between pets and people ,is a unique one,and i treasure it , beautifully written,and expressed.dave.s

  3. Hi Gary,
    Family indeed; and what a special tale you tell Mr. K. Our family had such a one as your sweet “Tess”. “Whiskers” was different to each of us. He and my older brother tromped the woods hunting wild animals. He and my younger brother climbed onto the roof on his doghouse, pretending to fly! My time with “Whiskers” was usually Saturday morning, when we’d visit my sanctuary, and then see my flower garden where all of the butterflies lived. We created a pond from an old tin tub, where the dragonflies played. When he died my heart was broken, but with every memory, a stitch worked on piecing it back together.
    Thank you for sharing your story, your tale of Tess, and her lovely owners. You have such grace and kindness in your writing. Cheers, very good wishes, Dixie

  4. I stopped by just to wish you Peace!

  5. Hello My Dear!
    I also remember Tess and how beautiful she was. It was so painful to let you go to England on your adventure so I know how much it hurt to leave her behind. You at least have precious memories that no one else has. They belong completely to you. Best to you!!

  6. Dear Julie,
    Thank you very much for you comment.
    It is wonderful how much our animals, an important part of our families, can bring us such joy. Those that are no longer with us, bring back such heart-warming memories.
    Tess' devotion and determination has become an inspiration in my life.
    Thanks Julie.

  7. Dear David,
    I knew you would relate to this blog. You know just how much a dog can mean to our lives.
    They are loyal,loving and never pass judgement. For those of us who have very little contact with people, a dog, or a cat etc., can get us through our moments of great personal distress.
    Thank you for your kind comment, David. Keep going with your blog, you are doing very well.
    Empathetic wishes, Gary.

  8. Dear Dixie,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.
    It is really nice to see that our blogs can also give folks the opportunity to share their own tales. I thank you for sharing your memory of great love and affection for "Whiskers".
    Peaceful wishes to you, Gary.

  9. Dear Jun,
    Allow me to send back peaceful wishes to you.
    Thanks for my award. That was most kind of you.
    Peace, Gary:-)

  10. Dear Heather,
    Hello to you, my dear. Thanks Heather, for leaving a comment. I greatly appreciate that.
    You, my dear friend, would know just how difficult all those decisions, so long ago, were for us to make. We were focused on starting a new life, a new adventure. Yet through it all, you have always remained one of my dearest friends.
    I want you to know that I fully support your noble venture through your blog. I hope that folks who read my blog will drop by and check out your site.
    Stay positive and please keep smiling. Hugs, Gary.

  11. Such a moving story Gary - I came to congratulate you on your award but I'm leaving you a big (((HUG))) now.
    Take care,
    Jaye x

  12. Dear Jaye,
    Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment.
    It was very nice of Jun to leave us that award. Lemonade...yummy!!
    Thanks for your entertaining, topical blog. It's great fun commenting on your articles:-)
    Hugs back atcha', Gary:-)

  13. I am choking back the tears having read your latest update on your blog and about Tess your beloved dog. Animals mean an awful lot to us and to lose one leaves a deep void nothing can fill. At least you know she had a happy life.

    Best wishes


  14. You have me crying here, Gary. I have an old fellow who'll be 18 yrs. old shortly. His journey is almost over here...words can't express how much I love him.

    Our pets offer so much in the way of love, loyalty, and companionship. Your tale of Tess was brilliantly written and touched me deeply.

    Today was my first day back on the blogs...I'm glad I made this visit to yours.

    Blessings to you,

  15. Dear Fee,
    Thank you very much for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment.
    The great love, the powerful bond we have with our beloved animals is truly heart-warming.
    It comforts me to know that Tess brought so much joy into so many lives.
    Thanks fee, I send you positive wishes. Warm regards, Gary:-)

  16. Dear Mattie,
    How lovely it is to have you visit my blog. I hope all is going well for you.
    You are so right. Our loving animal friends offer us so much. When I have been at my saddest, my loneliest, I take solace in knowing that my faithful companion, 'Penny', the Jack Russell, is here with me.
    I'm so glad you visited, Mattie. Your kind comments and positive interaction means a great deal. Give your dog a big hug for me:-)
    Warm wishes, Gary

  17. What a touching personal story of the uncanny love and connection we have with our pets! You almost got me sobbing to Gary. May Tess rest in peace in pet-heaven. I had a pet cat that went missing for one whole month and returned back skinny but he got back home to us that it really taught me so much about resilience in animals. My cat had gone to pet heaven too. His name was Billie. I still do get tear eyed when I think about my dear Billie. Say 'arf arf to Penny will you! And take good care of yourself. =)

  18. Hi Shanaz,
    Firstly, thank you kindly for commenting on this archived posting. Sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I like to put back up an old posting.
    It's awesome and amazing how much determination our beloved creatures can demonstrate to us. How they find their way home shows they have this inner sense.
    I shall say 'arf, arf' to Penny :) And may we both take very good care of ourselves.
    Billie and Tess, much loved and never forgotten.


I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.