Meet author, Nancy Bain. Nancy has lived in the greater Vancouver area (BC) all her life. She attended the U of BC and graduated with a Masters Degree in Business Administration. For many years, she was an educator in the real estate industry: teaching, writing and publishing mainly in the area of real estate contracts and real estate agency.
After adopting a dog from a rescue group in northern BC, she became an avid follower of the blog of Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue, authored by Yvette Labatte. Together, Yvette and Nancy author stories about dog rescue, the first one available on Amazon was “The Bella Coola 4:Dogs in the Forest.” That was followed by the story of her own rescue dog “The Dog That Couldn’t Come Home.”
Lou and Bonny Baird, vacationing in the Great Bear Rainforest near Bella Coola, set out on a picnic.
Lou — first out of the truck, sandwich in hand — started to say something when Bonny interrupted with a loud “Stop.” Her gaze was fixed on bushes at the far side of the clearing. A large canine had emerged.
They froze. In a remote wilderness spot like this, a canine would likely be a wolf or a coyote. This one had long black-grey fur, it was hard to tell the species, but he gave the ‘friendly’ signal by wagging his tail.
“The Bella Coola 4: Dogs in the Forest”
Four emaciated dogs, one with a broken leg, emerged. They were near death. Bairds converted their holiday plans to a rescue mission. They canvassed the small community of Bella Coola to see if anyone knew who owned the dogs. Disinterest was abundant. Next, they looked for an animal shelter that would care for them. After hours of phone canvassing shelters in the northern part of the province, they determined that leaving them at a shelter would be an immediate death sentence for the dogs. Many of the shelters were full and even if there was room, they did not want dogs in poor condition.
Near the end of the list of animal shelters and rescue groups, a magical phrase stood out: Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue is a no-kill shelter. This family-operated rescue on Highway 16 west of Burns Lake – a 600-mile journey from Bella Coola – agreed to take the dogs.
For these four dogs, it was a happy ending. Over time, they were nursed back to health and placed in homes. But the story posed a troubling question: why were the community animal shelters only able to offer euthanization?
The Bella Coola 4: Dogs in the Forest is available on Amazon – FREE – from September 25 to 29.
I became aware of Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue when I was searching Petfinders.com for a dog. Balsam – a Sharpei-Akita cross that had lived semi-feral for the first 18 months of her life – had been at Turtle Gardens for some time waiting for adoption. Her profile noted, “Balsam is extremely shy. She has no trust for humans.” I had patience and a quiet home, I was confidant she would eventually give humans a chance.
“The Dog That Couldn’t Come Home” is our story, of two sentient beings trying to work out a life together. Available on Amazon, it has been reviewed as a ‘tender psychological thriller’ with a surprise ending.
Through this adoption, I became an avid follower of the Turtle Gardens blog. Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue was born of a desperate need to provide an alternative to the type of ‘animal control’ practiced in remote northern communities that have a persistent overpopulation of dogs.
I have read of the phenomena of ever-growing roving packs of homeless dogs in the decaying inner cities in the US; I had no idea that areas in our own province suffered too.
The dogs that were rescued by Turtle Gardens mainly went to homes in the Greater Vancouver area. Many of these dogs had never lived in a house and they had to learn this skill before being sent to the city. Yvette Labatte, self designated ‘dogbosslady’ of Turtle Gardens had a unique solution: her home became a group foster home for dogs. On average, she transformed 230 dogs a year from forest dogs to city dogs.
In my previous life, I wrote about real estate contracts and agency law, the challenge being to keep the reader awake. Now I was presented with heartwarming stories that posed serious questions. It was a writer’s dream. I researched the backstories to her blog entries and the two were combined to tell an entire story.
The story of Turtle Gardens’ biggest rescue, “The Rescue of the Sheriff’s Dogs,” is an illustrated children’s book. Fifty sled dogs chained to kennels at a vacant house were close to death. The Sheriff – who became aware of the dogs’ plight – received no response to pleas for help from northern animal organizations. In desperation, he called Turtle Gardens. It was far too many dogs for a small shelter like Turtle Gardens to handle; but with help of local volunteers, they did this make this huge rescue.
Beyond the drama of the story, it underlines how our companion animals rely on us for food, water and shelter. When these necessities are not provided, their existence is precarious. “The Rescue of the Sheriff’s Dogs” is available at www.sheriffsdogs.com (not on Amazon).
These are our own BC stories. The royalties go to support the work of Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue. Like all rescue organizations, they are chronically underfunded.