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.