Town & Country

July 2017

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Country Town M A N I T O B A Editor: Pat St. Germain – S E L K I R K FISHING & FUNDRAISING STUDENTS AND ARTISTS HOOK UP FOR ART ON ICE Saturday, July 22, 2017 SOAP OPERATION ALL–NATURAL PRODUCTS ARE HANDMADE S A N D Y H O O K FOCUS ON ST. LAURENT DOCUMENTARY SERIES CAPTURES MÉTIS CULTURE S T . L A U R E N T BY WENDY KING T he Rainbow Bridge is the subject of a number of poems that tell a story about where our companion animals go when they pass on. According to the story, the pet crosses a rainbow bridge to an idyllic meadow, restored to perfect health, where they wait for their owner to catch up with them when the time comes. The story is a comfort to most pet owners, but there are many older animals who do not get to spend their last years with a beloved human. Some are aban- doned, neglected, or surrendered. That's where Before the Bridge Senior K-9 Rescue comes in. A volunteer-operated, registered charity located in Stony Mountain, it finds loving homes for older dogs, seven years and up. Judy Smith got the ball rolling five years ago. "It came to me because I fostered for an- other rescue for five or six years — over 57 dogs!" she says. "I always liked the seniors and I al- ways felt so bad because nobody would take them." Because Before the Bridge is a rescue, not a shelter, all the dogs are in foster homes (about 50) in and around Winnipeg. Every dog who comes to the rescue has a story. Currently, Smith is caring for Flash, who came into the rescue almost five years ago. "Flash came in from a friend who told me she thought the dog had been hit by a car on the highway," says Smith. The owner was found in the nearby town. It wasn't a happy encounter. "He said he didn't want the dog, that he was always running away — just take him," says Smith. "They asked him for the dog's name and his age, and he said he was about seven ... the guy had a shotgun, actually, so they didn't linger." The dog had two degenerative discs, causing him to drag his legs, but it turned out he hadn't been hit by a car. "He had been kicked so hard in the face as a puppy that it bent his nose and rup- tured these discs, which was the cause of his lameness," she says. Smith knew the best place for care was in Saskatoon. But it would be expensive. "I made a comment on Facebook that if every follower — and I think we had 6,000 at the time — donated a dollar, we would have more than enough to send someone and cover the hotel and the operation," she says. "Holy Dinah! The money started com- ing in, and we actually raised $7,500." Flash recovered and was adopted by someone who really loved him. "Unfortunately later, their toddler tripped over him when he was asleep and he snapped at her, so they returned him and he's been with me ever since." Flash is an example of the kind of finan- cial investment — and commitment — the rescue makes to get the dogs back on their paws. "We never ask the public for money, not ever," says Smith. "I felt that this was my dream and there has to be a way to raise the money, so we do fundraisers all the time so we can give people something for their buck." February brings the annual Valentine's Rib Night, and there are craft sales at Win- nipeg's Viscount Gort in April and Novem- ber. Donations can be made anytime online and receipts are issued for $10 or more. To be a foster or to adopt, visit the web- site at and fill out an application form. Once processed, a meet and greet and a home visit are arranged. "That visit is not to go and count dust bunnies," says Smith laughing. "It's to make sure the house is safe, with a yard and a well-maintained fence." Smith also wants to be sure new owners and dogs are well suited. "There has to be a connection when they meet — the dog generally picks you. Some families want more subdued and quiet dogs; some want seniors with a little bit of life still in them and some want sen- iors who are maniacs!" There is a two-week trial period to en- sure the dog is a good match for the family. "If it doesn't work out, we will take the dog back and return the adoption fee minus a $25 administration fee," she says. You can meet the dogs at bi-weekly adoption fairs advertised on the website events page and on the Before the Bridge Facebook page. The rescue is partnered with PetSmart (Leila and McPhillips) and with Pet Value (Pembina). They also sell baked goods and doggie accessories. "Almost every dog we bring in costs us money, but the seniors are just awesome. Most of them are housetrained, they're quieter, they're loving, they're grateful, they love you unconditionally. "They make me cry every day." ■ SWEET SUCCESS BOUTIQUE BAKERY HITS THE SPOT IN GIMLI G I M L I PG 2 PG 3 PG 4 PG 6 PG 5 LAKE LIVING CREATIVE ISLANDER INVITES GUESTS TO ENJOY BED, BREAKFAST AND BEAUTY W I L L O W I S L A N D Friends for Life & Before the Bridge Senior K-9 Rescue founder Judy Smith, with long-time friend Flash, says senior dogs are grateful and loving companions. Photos by Darcy Finley Every old dog should have his day To be a foster or to adopt, visit the website at and fill out an application form. Once processed, a meet and greet and a home visit are arranged.

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