// Archives

In Memoriam

This category contains 45 posts


Woofy was not rescued by Big Heart, but we were happy to contribute financially when she needed to undergo a biopsy for suspected cancer.  Unfortunately the biopsy came back positive.

Woofy and her Mom are strong and will still have many more moments of love to share in the coming months. They remain in our hearts as they begin a new journey together.

Scroll down this page to read Woofy’s remarkable story.


The Story of Woofy,

One crisp October Saturday, at 8:00 am, (early for me) I answered the phone to a very upset friend.  Usually a steady, self-assured woman, Erica was frantic and in tears.

‘I can’t stand this anymore, it’s cruel, it’s torture, she’s going nuts!’

Half asleep, I mumbled something vaguely sympathetic and asked her to tell me more.

Erica lived next door to a couple with a dog which they kept confined to a pen.  In five years, she’d never seen this dog walked, played with, petted, taken inside the house or even talked to by her owners.  Once a day, someone would bring water and kibble for her.  Her shelter, a cracked plastic dog house, was grossly inadequate.  It didn’t quite cover her and from October to June, it sat in a puddle.  She was wet all winter and roasting all summer.

Spluttering and crying, Erica choked out the story.  A dog lover, she had walked Woofy and played with her frequently for a couple of years, but for some reason, the owners had forbidden her to continue this kindness.  In response, Erica had made a hole in the fence near the back of the property.  Three or four times a week, she secretly visited, going eye-to-eye through the hole, talking to her and pushing a few bones her way.  This was Woofy’s only social contact.

In desperation, she frequently dug herself out, trotted over to Erica’s front porch and cried at the door.  Erica would call her humans.  They would drag her back to her pen, all four feet splayed out in resistence.  This particular morning, they’d come again and Erica just broke down.  She felt the dog was suffering terribly.

‘Erica,’ I said, ‘Relax.  You know she’s going to dig herself out again.  She’s been doing it for years.  Next time she comes to you, put her in your car right away and get her out of there.  Just take her away.  They won’t care.’

Erica calmed down and I went back to sleep.

At that time, I didn’t like dogs.  I was afraid of dogs.  After being chewed up by a St. Bernard with a brain tumour, who weighed more than me, every dog and its brother figured I was an easy mark.  I’d been chased and bitten while jogging, and each bark and snarl struck fear in my heart.

The next morning, around the same time, (verrrry early for a Sunday) the phone rang again.  Erica.  Excited.  ‘I got the dog.’ she exclaimed.  ‘Do you know anyone who wants a really good dog?  She’s so lovely and smart and so friendly and sweet.’

Woofy had made her great escape at 3:00am and Erica had been wakened by her whimpers at the front door.  When she called the owners, she simply asked them, ‘Let me take this dog off your hands.  I can find a home for her today.’  To her astonishment, they agreed.

I’m not sure why, but I heard myself say, ‘How big is she?’

‘Medium-sized!’ assured Erica.

And then, ‘If you bring her over on the ferry, I’ll take her.’   We arranged to meet at the Nanaimo terminal.

Once again, I went back to sleep.

En route to the ferry, I picked up a leash, collar and some kibble.  ‘Oh gosh, I am a dog-owner,’ I thought, a bit shell-shocked.  The cashier remarked on the purchases and I earned some Brownie points for accepting a rescue-dog, sight unseen.  She became the first of Woofy’s dogsitters.

Erica rolled into the parking lot and we waved.  She opened the door and out tumbled a handsome black female, with brown markings and a gorgeous fluffy tail.  A Rottweiller/Lab cross, she weighed 90 pounds.  To me she looked humungous!

Clearly confused and frightened, poor Woofy was panting, and distressed-looking, but not in the least unruly.  I stroked her head, and she immediately rolled over in submission, gazing up at me with melting brown eyes.

We went home.  She barely slept for the first couple of days.  Panting and drooling, she was understandably anxious, but her behaviour was exemplary.   I took her for walks, and got down on the floor with her, nose to nose.  I invited her up on my bed at night.  She relaxed in a day or two and we bonded.  We began to work out our routine and we both had a lot to learn.

We walked three times a day through the woods, to the beach, and around the neighbourhood.  She loved the forest trails, and was delighted with the ocean.   Having never been socialized, she didn’t get on particularly well with the neighbourhood dogs.  Our first two meetings went badly.  I called a friend who knows about ‘dog behaviour’ and we worked at socializing.

We learned to read each other.  She got my hand signals and I later understood her nose signals.  We tweaked her diet.  On raw food, kelp and marrow bones, she lost weight and her coat became glossy and beautiful.  The vet pronounced her in excellent health.

Three weeks into our relationship, on one of our woodland walks, she suddenly began to prance and dance around me, dropping to the play bow stance, barking, running away and then back to me.  Eyes shining, she was obviously a happy puppy.  Perhaps she thought, ‘This is my real life, my new life.  No more pen.’

Four weeks after I acquired Woofy, I was suspended from my work on ridiculous and unfounded charges.  Management would not back down.  The road to arbitration was long and arduous and took another 18 months.   I became ill from stress.  But I had Woofy.  She was an incredible gift.  She forced me to walk every day, she was pleased and happy with me, and in turn, I always felt loving toward her.  I wouldn’t have survived this time without her.

Woofy has been with me for two and a half years now.  We are great pals.  She has grown even more communicative, loves to be around people and literally tries to talk.  She still has problems with a couple of the neighbourhood dogs, some of the time, but she’s also learned to play.  She can be stubborn – if she makes up her mind to stop, go, ignore me, or stay in the car when I want her to come out, there isn’t a lot I can do, except bribe her with treats.  But I don’t mind.  She is a terrific dog and I love her to bits.

She is aging.  We guess she is at least ten.  She’s growing deaf, is becoming arthritic and sleeps more than she used to.   A fast-growing lump at the base of her tail turned out to be cancerous.  I won’t put her through another operation and before she suffers for very long, I will ‘set her free’.   So, she may not be with me for more than another six months or so.

On the up side, she’s had a good long stretch of loving attention, excellent food and daily off-leash romps.   I am so glad to have given her that.  She has given me so much.


Joey’s Story
by foster mom, Kerri-Lynne

When I first met Joey he was a very scared, confused, and sick dog.  Gail (President of Big Heart Rescue) and her brother delivered him to my place in Nanaimo from Chilliwack Animal Control.  Chilliwack Animal Control is overflowing with abandoned and neglected dogs that need homes.  Joey was different in that not only was he abandoned and neglected but he was very sick.  Chilliwack Animal Control picked him up after finding him entangled in a farmer’s fence with his loyal brother and friend waiting beside him.  Both dogs were very ill and emaciated.   It was suspected they had eaten something toxic and both were sent for veterinary care.  Joey’s brother succumbed to the illness but after 3 weeks of fighting, Joey was ready to leave the vets.  This is where Big Heart Rescue stepped in and took him under their wing and after an extensive home check, approved me as a perfect match to be Joey’s foster home.

Upon his arrival to my place, I met an emaciated and scared dog.  Joey is a black retriever type dog and his waist was approximately 4” wide when looking down on his topline.  His ribs and hips jutted under his skin.  His tail was permanently tucked tight between his legs and his gait was abnormal in that he hopped with his back legs together when he moved.  He was missing patches of fur on his face and there was an awful smell of necrotizing tissue emanating from his body.  He was brought into my house where he immediately found my bedroom and the dog bed beside our bed and an exhausted and sick Joey slept for a week straight in between a visit to the vets, eating and drinking, receiving medication, and pee/poo breaks.

Upon his visit to the vets and after numerous tests, it was determined that Joey has an autoimmune disorder which was causing a major skin infection.  He smelled so bad that the vet had to turn the fan on and open the door of the small examining room.

[cincopa AgOACXqmc7qP]

He was placed on prednisone and antibiotics.  As if this wasn’t enough, Joey had a Grade VI heart murmur which is the highest level of heart murmur and was an obvious indication that something was very wrong with his heart. His prognosis was looking grim.  Big Heart Rescue assured me that they would do whatever they could to help Joey as long as he had quality of life.  His hips and legs were X-rayed and manipulated due to his abnormal gait.  Nothing wrong could be found with the bones or joints and there was no pain with manipulation (in fact he was very flexible) so it was concluded that his abnormal neuromuscular functioning could have been caused from an old injury (he had been beaten) or from his autoimmune disorder.

After a couple of days of prednisone and antibiotics, Joey started to perk up and feel much better.  He was eager to get-up from his dog bed and come outside.  He started to initiate play with my 2 dogs and was interested in exploring the yard.   He also started to take an interest in the multitude of dog toys available to him.  In fact, he was very possessive of the toys and would growl and snarl if my dogs came within 10 feet of him and his toys.  He was also very possessive of his food dish and I would have to remember to put it away when my dogs were around.  Thankfully, my dogs are very accommodating and kept a wide berth from Joey and his items.

Feeding Joey was always an interesting experience.  He could down a bowl of dogfood faster than any dog I have ever seen.  However, when he realized that food came regularly and more than he could eat, he slowed down.  I made sure that he wasn’t getting any gastrointestinal upset during this time and he quickly gained 12 pounds in about 3 weeks.  He is now 24 pounds heavier than when I got him and is at a healthy weight at around 70 pounds.  Even though he knows food is regular, he will still quickly eat the remains of the other dogs’ food even if he still has some of his own left.   However, he has calmed down with his toys and actually plays tug-of-war with the other dogs.

Due to the gravity of his heart murmur, Joey was referred to Dr, Mason, a veterinary internist, who ultra sounded his heart and diagnosed him with PDA or patent ductus arteriosis.  This is where a duct between the pulmonary artery and aorta didn’t shut as it was supposed to when he was born.  It results in decreased cardiac output to his body and if left untreated, Joey would quickly develop congestive heart failure and die.   It was concluded that Joey needed heart surgery.  Optimally, this procedure is conducted when the patient is a baby and has a high success rate however, due to Joey being around 1 year old, it was high risk and Dr. Mason needed to consult with veterinary surgeons to see if the surgery was even possible at this age.

It was great news the day that Dr Sukhiani, a veterinary surgeon, decided that this surgery could be conducted, even though it was high risk.  The date was set for May 2.  I tried not to think about the risks associated with this surgery.  The night before the surgery, Dr. Sukhiani phoned me to discuss the risks and options that he had previously discussed with Gail (BHR president).  I fully agreed with all the options that Gail had chosen for this risky surgery.

Driving Joey into Victoria for his surgery was very emotional.  I met Jenn (BHR vice-president), at a coffee shop in Cobble Hill and then she drove ahead of me to the vet clinic.  I allowed Joey to sit in the front seat of the truck on the drive so I could shower him with love and affection for what might be my last hour and a half with him.  I wanted him to feel secure and loved should he not come out of surgery.  I broke down a few times on the drive thinking that I might never see him again.  However, I tried to stay positive as I didn’t want him to feel any of my emotional pain.   At the clinic, both Jenn and I told him what a great dog he was and then left quickly so it wouldn’t be an agonizing departure for both us and Joey.  Outside the clinic, Jenn gave me a teary hug and we both quickly walked to the privacy of our vehicles.  As soon as I pulled out of the clinic I was a sobbing mess.  I tried not to think of Dr. Sukhiani explaining how close his scalpel would be to the pulmonary artery and how just a little nick while removing the scar tissue could cause Joey to bleed out and die on the operating table before anything could be done about it.  As soon as I got myself together, I phoned my husband, my brother, and my parents to ask them to think “positive thoughts” for Joey during this critical time.

For the next 6 hours I tried to keep myself occupied.  I phoned the vet clinic several times to find out results but the first few times I phoned Joey wasn’t in surgery yet.  I knew the surgery would take 2-3 hours so I calculated when Dr. Sukhiani would arrive for the surgery and when he would be done.  One of the last times I called, Joey was in surgery being sutured up and the surgery had gone well!  He was alive!!!!   I was so relieved that I immediately phoned Jenn who had also found out the good news due to her many phone calls to the clinic!  I must say the receptionist at the clinic was very good natured with us pestering her about Joey’s welfare.

That night, Dr. Sukhiani phoned me to tell me details of the surgery.  He said there was good news and bad news.  The good news was that the surgery had gone as planned and was successful.  The bad news was that Joey’s pulmonary artery was distended and this was still causing a murmur and that he should see the internist for a follow-up ultra sound.  He couldn’t give me a prognosis on what this would mean for Joey, but I was so relieved that Joey was alive that the pulmonary artery problem seemed minor to me!  It was possible that the artery might correct itself due to the ease in pressure.  One day at a time!  Joey was coming home to recuperate.

I picked up Joey the next afternoon.  He was sore but walking and gave me a look like I did this to him.  I wanted to explain that this surgery was necessary for his life but I couldn’t, so instead I tried to make him as comfortable as possible during the ride home.  He was exhausted but managed to give me a kiss.

Day 2 after surgery Joey is acting like nothing happened.  He is eager to get the hell out of the house and go looking for some action!  It was a beautiful day so I put him on a lead and took him outside while I planted some hanging baskets.  Once he realized he wasn’t going anywhere and that I wasn’t allowing him to strike up play with the other dogs, he rested in the grass and enjoyed the sunshine.  The rest of his recuperation was uneventful and amazingly quick.  It is now three-and-a-half weeks after surgery and Joey is well and back to his usual antics!  He still needs to get an ultrasound of his pulmonary artery, but I am optimistic that everything will be fine.

About two weeks ago, Gail told me that a very good inquiry from someone wanting to adopt Joey had come in.   It was time for me to make the final decision.  Was I going to be a fostering failure or not?  I thought about Joey and all the obstacles he had overcome.

He came from the brink of death and a life of abuse and neglect to one filled with play, love, and family.  He fit into our household and provided us with a lot of laughter with his puppy playfulness and exuberance.  I thought about how his health and confidence levels had grown in only the short 3 months I fostered him and how he ran around like there was no problem with his hind legs hopping like a bunny.  He was deliriously happy here and I couldn’t let him go.  I didn’t want to throw another hurdle at him and I didn’t want to heal a broken heart by letting him go.  So, I adopted Joey!

No doubt there will be other obstacles that Joey and I will have to hurdle during our life together, but Joey has shown me his fighting spirit, resilience, and joy for life.  I will honour his spirit by providing him with a life filled with love, care, and friendship.

Joey and I are both grateful to Big Heart Rescue for going above and beyond in order to help dogs in need.

A Tribute to Joey
Spring 2006 – December 2007

Joey had such an impact on my life that it has taken me 10 months to heal enough to write about him.  He was with me for just under 2 years of his short life but his presence and sincere joy for life will remain with me and my family forever.

Joey’s heart was just too big for this world and his will to live couldn’t keep his sick heart from failing.   Approximately a year and five months after his heart operation, Joey developed congestive heart failure and we were able to keep him comfortable with medication.  However, there came a time when medications just couldn’t help.

Joey was having trouble breathing when lying down to sleep at night due to fluid build-up and pressure in the lungs from an enlarged heart.  I spent a few sleepless nights trying to prop him up so he could sleep in a sitting position but to no avail.  Joey was distressed, wasn’t eating and his tired body just couldn’t hold on any longer.

With a very heavy heart I made a phone call to the vet.  I asked if there were any other medications we could try or anything else I could do to improve the quality of his life.  The answer was grave.  I made an appointment for the vet to come to my place so Joey could pass as comfortably as possible.

That last day was bittersweet.   I wanted to burn his expressions, his smell, and his soul into my brain and heart so I would never forget any part of him.  We spent the day watching cartoons (Joey loved cartoons) and cuddling.  I tried to make this day happy and loving.  In the afternoon, Joey wanted to go outside.  As he walked toward the lawn, an eagle swooped directly above him.  The eagle was a sign of Joey’s impending freedom from his sick body.  Typical of Joey and the strength of his mind, he forgot about his sick body for one last time and chased the eagle across the yard.  He was a fighter to the end!

We all miss you very much Joey.  You will always be loved.


Dog was only two years old, it seems so unfair that she was taken from us. I’ll love her forever and ever. She was so sweet with everyone she met. She was smart too.

I’ll never forget the day I packed her home, she was so tiny, she looked just like a little bear cub everyone said to me. I was so proud to walk down the road with her by my side.

She was my best friend, she could always put a smile on my face and make me laugh. I’ll never forget her. My whole family loved her, even our cat Snoopy loved her.

Dog was very loyal to us, she never strayed far, she protected me always, she was always watching over me. She was my guardian dog, but now she is my guardian angel.

I will always miss her, I will miss her to the day I go up to heaven and see her again, I’m sure she will be there waiting for me. My dad said his goodbyes with me and I kissed her on the nose for the last time for a long time. I’m not angry at the man who struck her with his truck because I know he is sorry. I got to say Goodbye and I told her I was sorry and I loved her. I love her and I’m sure she was loved by more people than just me and my family.

Goodbye for now Dog.



My sweet sweet boy, it just doesn’t seem real that you’re gone. I miss your warm shoulder leaning against me, I miss you coming up on the bed in the morning for snuggles, I miss you getting as close to the fireplace as you could without burning your toes.

You always had lots of love to go around, and you weren’t shy about sharing it with everybody.  Even when you were dying, you were teaching me about a love so strong and a bond so deep.  And reminding me to listen to that little voice inside.

I know now that you were wiser than you let on. How many times did someone tell me, well you know he is a senior, or well, at his age…….I would look at you, you would look at me, with those soft brown eyes, and we would both smile, you didn’t have time to be a senior, you were too busy enjoying life to get old.  But in the end you knew, not just when to say goodbye, but how.  Sweet, gentle, peaceful.

With love from your family


Sara, a very large Neapolitan Mastiff, had a tough start in life. She was chained and bred over and over again until she came into rescue.  Sara was loved by her foster Mom who was the first to care for Sara, and then was adopted into a new family. But that didn’t work out, and her owners insisted that a new home be located.

While Sara remained in the adoptive family’s home BHR sent out urgent messages, but after several months, no results. Then one day the universe came together!  The owners of Sara stated she would be euthanized if we did not find her a home in two days, and on the same day a wonderful woman named Jackie applied to adopt Sara. The rest is history.

Here is Jackie’s letter to Sara, who recently died of bone cancer.

My dearest Sara,

The minute I saw your beautiful face I fell in love.  When I read your story on how you were treated until you came under Big Heart Rescue’s care I cried.  I knew you deserved a loving “forever” home and I could give you that and that’s when I went through the steps to adopt you.  I could not get you fast enough.  I thought of you day and night and couldn’t believe how much you consumed me.  Finally, it was the morning for me to drive to the Coast to pick you up.  I couldn’t sleep the night before and told my Great Dane, Gord, that I was going to pick up his new sister, someone more his size to play with as he was too big to play with the other two old girls I had.

Then you were in my arms.  You were even more beautiful than I could have imagined.  The first time you slobbered on my pants I laughed and could care less.  My girl was coming home.

When we arrived home, you marched into the yard with no hesitation and greeted the other dogs with a happy wagging tail.  Gord couldn’t be more excited to have someone else to play with and another girl to add to his harem.  You spent the evening sniffing around all areas of the house along with the cats who weren’t that appreciative at the time.  You were smiling and so was I; we were made for each other.

Two days later however our wonderful Gord passed away and you were there already to console me as he was a special love as well.  But in my sadness my friends told me that you were meant for me at this time in my life to fill that other large void that was missing.  I had to try to pull it together because here was a new addition to the family that needed attention as well as all the other happy critters that live here.  I would just have to grieve to myself, but I had to carry on.

For the first few months Sara, I took you everywhere.  I knew you would be so worried when I left but I loved having you for company.  You were happy being with me all the time and when we would arrive back home you were even happier to see your other furry friends again.  Finally, after a period of time, you didn’t care if I left because you always knew I would come back.

Then we had some more additions to the family when one fall night our friend Ken arrived with a mother and four puppies that had been thrown out on the highway.  While Emma at first was very protective over her pups it didn’t take her long to realize that no one in this household wanted to hurt her or her babies so she settled in nicely.  But Sara, because of your huge loving heart, the puppies were immediately drawn to you and you would lie there smiling as they would climb all over you liking your face.  You instantly became Aunt Sara and Emma loved you as a close sister.  I have so many pictures of you two lying by the wood stove together or outside on the grass together.  But then you had your own special place in front of the window to get the morning sun.  Whenever I would see you laying there I often laid down right next you and wrapped my arms around you and told you how much I loved you and thanked you for coming in my life.

I have to be honest Sara, it has been very, very hard since you have gone.  I look at those favorite spots of yours and my heart aches.  Emma is still searching for you and I have to lie with her a lot by the fireplace now as I know she misses you so much as well.  But the hardest part for me is the mornings.  I never needed an alarm clock.  Every morning around 7:30, I would be awakened with this thumping sound and that was your nubby tail wagging against the side of the couch.  I would then say, “Good morning Sara!” and you would give a happy growly sort of noise and roll around a bit.  Then you would jump off of the couch, go and look for your stuffed bear and bring it over to my face in bed.  I often said to people that wouldn’t it be nice if we could all wake up as happy as you did but then I realized how lucky I was because I DID wake up that happy because YOU made me smile every day.  This will now take me sometime to stop tearing up in the morning because I wake up and you’re not there.  I miss seeing your beautiful face in the mornings and that will take me a long time to get used to.

Sara, I only had you for a year but I couldn’t have possibly loved you any more.  You were a joy and a delight and EVERYONE loved you.  I’ll miss the times we went to the Farmer’s Market together and everyone there got to know you and would call out your name when you arrived and you would just smile the way that dogs do.

I miss you and so do your other furry brothers and sisters but we won’t ever forget you.  At least there is no more pain for you because I never, ever wanted you to feel pain again.  We know that there will be other additions to the family in time because there are so many others out there that need to feel love as well, but with all of my loving creatures nobody ever is replaced as that would be impossible.  Each animal has a piece of my heart but Sara you took up quite a few pieces.  The house is very quiet right now as you were so loud at everything you did.  You walked loud, your playful growls were loud, you barked loud, you drank loud, you ate loud but I loved it every single time.  Your picture is on my desktop on my computer because no one had a face like yours and I miss grabbing your wrinkles and then kissing your face.

But through all this sadness, which will slow in time, you were worth every single tear.  I’ve never for one moment regretted bringing you in my life and I am a better person for it.  Soon instead of tears when I think of you I will only laugh and smile remembering all the joy you brought me.  We had a special bond and I love you.



You reflect your name dear King, a regal companion with a strength that was beyond human understanding.  You survived a shot from a pellet gun but your body could no longer fight the cancer that had consumed you.

When you came into rescue we had hoped that the miracle of medicine could heal you, that your strength would return and we could support you as your body grew strong, yet this was not to be.

Though you did not have all the time with us that we had wished for dear King, we do know that you were comfortable and pain free on your last days here on earth.  You were surrounded with love by two very special women on the day you passed and many shed tears for your physical passing but were grateful that you would now be at peace.

You touched us deeply, your gentle soul will never be forgotten.

Be free dear King, for you are loved.



You came to us darling Jericho as a wee babe, three weeks old and needing to be nourished from a bottle.  We spent many nights worrying if you would survive and if you did survive we wondered what special gifts you might share with us.

Balance was a difficult concept for you dear Jericho, falling off stairs, beds and counter tops.  You would never land on your feet as other cats do but you simply shook your head and off you went to find a new adventure for the day.

As the days turned into weeks and weeks into months and then into years your gift became clear; comforting a very sick little girl named Spirit, being a dear friend to Goldie and grieving her passing, cleaning a sick puppy’s ears, welcoming all the different canines that walked through your home, teaching them that cats were to be loved.

You held little Cotton in your paws as she slipped away, you laid with Sargie as his days grew short and you comforted Sky when she became so ill.

Your gift of healing dear Jericho was what you brought to this world and who would have known that 14 years ago a sickly wee kitten would be the one to ensure that a gentle purr was felt by those whose time on earth had come.

And now, your body is gone, no more sweet moments of your special meow, no more kind and gentle eyes that looked so filled with love and oh, how your best friend Georgia misses you and has yet to settle without you by her side.

Thank you dear Jericho for the gift of healing, for your gentleness and for your devotion to those who needed you.

Now it is your time to be with Dad and allow him to comfort you as you worry about those left behind, he will be blessed to watch you play like a kitten again, to hear your stories of life on earth and he will reassure you that those of us who miss you will be reunited again, one day.

Goodbye my darling Jericho…..be well now.

Love Mom, Dad and all your fur friends


This sweet senior (dog on the left in photo) was left all alone to fend for herself on the streets of Chilliwack. Big Heart Rescue has now taken her into our care.

Rae is a special gal who is currently fostered in Victoria. She is living with young children and another dog, all of whom she gets along well with.

On Thursday Rae will go to the vets for a full check-up and a seniors blood panel to ensure she is healthy and happy.

Upon arriving at her new foster home, Rae fit right in and fell asleep, knowing that there would be no more cold cement floors for her to sleep on, understanding that the warmth of a house means you are safe and that food will come on a regular basis.

Update: 2 October

Geri has kindly sponsored Rae and Pearl and the Big Heart Rescue team send a huge thank you for her kindness towards our very special grandma gals!

Update: 23 December

 Rae has passed in the arms of her foster Mom, who had the joy of loving this very senior girl from CAC for the last three months.

Our beautiful Grandma Rae, who knew love and safety, warmth and friendship, love and support will be so missed by all the people she touched.

Though you can no longer walk darling Rae, you will run swiftly at the Rainbow Bridge, where all those who passed before you are waiting.

With Love,

Aleisha and the entire BHR team


One by one, they pass by my cage…
“Too old, too worn, too broken…no way”.
“Way past his time, he can’t run and play”.
They shake their heads slowly, and go on their way.

A little old man, arthritic and sore,
It seems I am just wanted no more.
I once had a home, I once had a bed,
A place that was warm, and where I was fed.

Now my muzzle is Grey, and my eyes slowly fail.
Who wants a dog, so old and so frail?
My family decided I didn’t belong.
I got in their way, my attitude was wrong.

Whatever excuse they made in their heads,
Can’t justify how they left me for dead.
Now I sit in this cage where day after day
The younger dogs all get adopted away.

When I had almost come to the end of my rope
YOU saw my face and I finally had hope….
You saw through the grey and the legs bent with age
And felt I still had life beyond this stark cage.

You took me home, gave me food and a bed
Shared your own pillow with my poor tired head.
We snuggle and play and you talk to me low
You talk to me dearly, you want me to know….

I may have spent my life with another,
But you outshine them all with a love so much stronger.
And I promise to return all the love I can give
To YOU my dear person, as long as I live.

And when I arrive at the ‘Bridge’ all brand new,
My thoughts and my heart will still be with you.
And I will brag there to all who will hear
Of the one who made my last days so dear.



Without the Big Heart Rescue Foster Program, Sky would never have had a second chance in life.

This 10 year old emaciated dog was found in the Chilliwack area and was brought to the Chilliwack Animal Control facility where a dedicated employee noticed how very sick and injured this old girl was.

Calls were made for assistance and Sky was transported by a kind member of the rescue community to Gabriola Island where Sky would begin her new life, one filled with care, love and compassion.

It was soon discovered that Sky was approximately 50% underweight, had extreme infections in her mouth due to rotten teeth,  severe arthritis running down her spine, through her hips and in both rear legs, this coupled with a torn cruciate of the right knee made for a dog in need of immediate medical intervention and physical rehabilitation.

Big Heart Rescue has now seen to all her medical, physical and emotional needs and because of a loving foster home she is well on her way to recovery.

Sky Update!! November

Sky is recovering from her cruciate surgery and has had to have a second surgery to remove a large melanoma that had entwined itself through her rib cage.  This senior girl came into Big Heart Rescue’s care weighing in at 55 lbs. and we are proud to announce she is now (though still under weight) a healthier 77.5 lbs and doing very well.  This girl has touched the lives of many with her forgiving spirit and determination!!
Sky relaxing with her pals.


Hurray, Sky found her forever home!

Several years after her adoption, Sky passed away. The following eulogy was provided by her “forever” parents.

A Treasure

A big old black dog discarded like trash, disposed of and forgotten, little did they realize she was in fact a most valuable Treasure.

She was an old black dog with the name of Sky, 14 years spent on this earth with a greying muzzle and a beautiful silver belly who joined our hearts two years ago this month.

Today her body is no longer with us, only her spirit walks quietly throughout her home.

A black dog with the courage to survive and the will to find a family to call her own, a family who would learn from her experiences and who would cherish the wisdom she held so strongly.

A companion with compassion and a soul as deep as an ocean, whose soft brown eyes held the knowledge of the past and forgiveness for those who would not see the Treasure within.

A friend who shared our lives and taught all those who knew her that there is great value in the wisdom of the aged, that an old black dog does possess grace and holds dignity when in the presence of others.

A promise was kept last night, a promise made years ago when her heart first joined ours.

A promise that when it was time for her spirit to fly we would hold her with gentleness in our arms and give thanks for the blessing of being her family of choice, of being privileged to watch a precious black pearl shine in the sunlight and sparkle under the moons glow.

With soft music playing in the background, candles casting their light as a guide and love filling the room, our Treasure gently slipped away from the body that deprived her of joy and well being.

A Treasure whose footprints are now slowly fading but whose mark will remain forever.

Our darling old black dog Sky, our Treasure, our black pearl, you are so greatly missed.

Until we meet again….


A call came from Chilliwack Animal Control (CAC) wondering if Big Heart Rescue could help a dog that had been picked up as a stray.  As soon as the Manager of CAC saw the desperate condition this dog was in she transferred her to Cottonwood Vets and thus began our relationship with sweet pea Cara.

This young girl, thought to be a German Shepherd, is suffering from the worst case of demodex mange that the vet has ever seen and actually he is surprised that she is still alive.  But this girl is a survivor with a heart of gold.

At this time Cara needs your help!  She needs you to send her your healing wishes, your warmest thoughts and she would love to have a few sponsors to help with her vet bills.

If you have any questions about Cara or helping to find her way to health, please feel free to contact Big Heart Rescue.

A huge thank you to Cara’s foster Mom who is dedicating her time to help her find love, experience health, and to always have a full and satisfied tummy.

Update: 7 February

Cara is now at the vet under-going surgery to repair a massive wound in her leg.  This surgery is risky for a girl who is as ill as sweet Cara, so the Big Heart Team is asking that you send out all your positive thoughts for a safe and healthy recovery.

Update: 13 February

Cara recovered from her surgery amazingly well and all the staff at Coquitlam Animal Hospital have fallen in love with her!!

This beautiful dog was happy and healthy enough to meet and greet visitors who came to the fundraiser on the weekend and everyone remarked at what a kind and loving girl she is.

A huge thanks to Nils who donated two large bags of Skin Sensitivity food and loving heartfelt thank you to Animal Advocates Society for paying all of Cara’s surgery bills plus more!!

Update: 4 March

Congratulations to Cricket and her new girl Cara!  Big Heart Rescue couldn’t be happier with this “foster failure” (a situation where the foster home loves the animal to bits and adopts it!) We wish you both lots of love and sunshine in the future.

Update: June

Cara passed away.  A heart full of thanks to all the wonderful people who cared for her, from Kelly at GSR who rescued her, to Dr. Lam & Nils, to all the Big Heart gang who took her under their wings, to all Cara’s neighbours who loved the wee girl so very much, & special thanks to Alta & Luan  for being amazing siblings to their new sister. They never complained that mom always seemed to give Cara more treats (lots more!), & even an extra meal.

Dear Cara, know that you made our lives so much better for being with us. We loved you from the start, knowing how hard you had to fight to live. Remember how long it took to get you inside that first night, Feb. 3rd? You were so scared, so we just gave more love so you’d know you were safe.

Thanks to Auntie Wave & Jules who let us stay in their loving home twice! We even got to sit in the sun at the beach, our only time to visit the ocean.

You were just starting to grow into your huge paws. Your body was getting longer & taller, & your happy tail was flung in an arch over your body. You loved everyone & everything. I loved the dance before each meal – I thought you were a kangaroo, & I kept telling you that.

Dear Cara, you will always be safe & loved now. Free from mange, from starvation, from cold. We gave you the love to be happy, & you gave us so much love back.

Romp & eat & swim & enjoy, my dear Cara!

Love, Cricket (Mom), Alta, Luan, & teensy foster Sunflower



23rd May 2007

Dear Friends,

Doug and I wanted you to know that we had to make the difficult decision to euthanise Harley yesterday evening.  He had been suffering with severe arthritis for some time on his hind legs and hips, but then developed bone splints on his front two legs also.  This was compounded by his later fracturing of a toe on his front leg from which he could not seem to recover, in spite of the wonderful care he received from Dr. Richard and Dr. Sonja, and also Dr. Soon Hock had tried acupuncture to see if we could relieve his pain.

He had reached the stage where he was in a huge amount of discomfort and struggled to walk to the garden over the last few weeks.  Doug and I had moved into the downstairs bedroom so that he would not have to walk up the stairs.  It was an incredibly difficult decision, as you will all know how much we adored ‘our big lump’.

Harley came to us some years ago in Canada, when we had finally decided that the time was right to get a puppy.  I decided to research the local pet rescue groups in British Columbia, and instead of a puppy, fell in love with the picture of Harley on the Big Heart Rescue site.  He was no puppy – at least 4 years old and weighing in at 70 kilos and apparently a mix between a rottweiler and a bloodhound.  The lovely ladies of the group brought him out to us and he has been our constant companion ever since.  His gentleness and steadiness of character and his total lack of aggression charmed everyone who met him.

Harley’s Highlights:
Riding in trucks.
Human food – any human food!
Playing with his best canine buddies – Churchill in Canada, and Babu in Singapore.
Finally getting his own sofa, which he did not have to share with guests.
Sneaking food from guests at parties – and both the guests and him thinking we didn’t know: we always knew!
Snoring so loud we couldn’t hear the television.
Staying in ‘The Cabin’ with the Longs/Hoas crew and Churchill.
Chasing squirrels along the ground and never understanding where they disappeared to when they ran up trees.
Rolling on his back for a belly rub.
Going out for more of an extended sniff than a walk.

We shall miss our big boy so much.  Thanks to all of you for being part of his extended family.

Love Una and Douglas

Animals For Adoption

Happy Tails

In Memoriam