Landing in the clover at Sheba’s Haven
I hate flying. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, being married to someone who loves to travel, but I’m worse than ever, despite a ritual I’ve devoutly maintained for the last 20 years. Just before takeoff, I pull out a well-worn, wallet-sized photo of my first beagle Darwin and reverently affix it to the back of the seat in front of me. Heaven forbid there’s no seat in front of me – it happened once and it wasn’t pretty. Not that I’m superstitious, but what else could have caused the nail-biting turbulence on that flight, scientifically proven explanations aside?
But enough about my horror stories of shakes on a plane. Apparently not everyone supports my ‘falling sky’ theory. Even first-time flyer Clover got through it without a ritual or a strand of fur out of place. In fact, her pilot says she slept like a baby.
While I’m astounded by her indifference to it all, you’re probably more fixated on how a dog could have her own personal pilot. Here’s a little background on our Queen of the Clouds.
In late September, Clover was covering ground as a stray dog up in Timmins. She was in no condition for it either. Thin and frail, the white Husky mix appeared elderly and sick when the Timmins and District Humane Society officer rescued her. It didn’t take long to discover she was blind. A veterinary examination revealed a list of medical troubles including diabetes, a bladder infection and a tooth in need of yanking. If nobody claimed her, this old dog’s only hope was a private rescue with a passion for past-their-primers. Sheba’s Haven is just that kind of rescue.
Founder Catherine Pokrywa has made it her mission to bring a little heaven on earth to chronically and terminally ill dogs after rescuing her first old-timer in 2006. Sheba would pave the way for so many others.
When it comes to Sheba’s Haven, I actually don’t mind hovering above ground! From a second floor deck off the back of Catherine’s country home, one has a bird’s eye view of a place where the bucket lists of deserving dogs are happily fulfilled. On this sprawling farm land, crops have been replaced with toys. There are open spaces for those who like to run wild, and forests of prairie grass for the explorers. Under the shade trees, there are doggy hammocks for the dreamers and hiding spots for the schemers. When the day is done, there are beds and couches inside to nose-dive into after a delicious supper. Nobody feels discarded here.
Sadly, Clover was indeed looked over by whoever once owned her. There was no happy reunion to celebrate at the shelter, but Catherine refused to let that be the end of this dog’s story. She was about to become one lucky four-pawed clover!
The challenge was getting the Haven’s newest addition home to begin treatment for her diabetes. As frail as she was, a road trip was out of the question. It would take close to 10 hours to drive from Timmins to Sheba’s Haven just north of Kingston.
Clover needed a miracle. Who better to call on than an angel? Especially since angels have wings.
Pilots N Paws Canada is a pet rescue organization run by a little more than 150 volunteers and they have wings! Unlike me, these hobby pilots love to fly, and then they discovered they could save the lives of animals at the same time. Since the group’s inception in the summer of 2012, these pilots have saved thousands of rescued animals by flying them safely into the arms of reputable rescue groups across Canada. This special program isn’t just for dogs either. One of the volunteer pilots, now fondly known as the ‘turtle whisperer,’ flew a severely injured snapping turtle from Sarnia to the Turtle Trauma Centre in Kawartha.
There were no reptiles on Clover’s flight in early October. Although she would be the 13th passenger that recreational pilot Bob Pearson has flown to safety since joining Pilots N Paws, this would be a private flight. It was Cloud 9 for Clover all the way!
Clover sprang out of that plane at the Kingston airport as fresh as a daisy. It was love at first sight for Catherine. For Clover, it was love at first sound. I’m convinced she heard the unconditional love in Catherine’s voice the moment they met. She’s been smiling ever since.
Finally receiving treatment for her diabetes, Clover has good reason to smile. She’s gained a few needed pounds and is enjoying her high quality food, even if she can’t have any sugar. Life is sweet enough anyway. It only took her three days to learn her way around paradise. She has no fear of exploring, inside or out. For every new sound she takes in, her head does an extreme puppy-tilt from one side to the other, which only adds to her fearless charm. It seems there’s nothing clever Clover can’t do!
For now on, whenever I fly the terrifying skies, I’ll be adding a little mantra to my pre-flight ritual. I call it the Clover Chant and it goes like this: “If Clover can do it, I can do it!”
Flying ace Clover is an 8- to 10-year-old Husky mix flown into SHEBA’S HAVEN (shebashaven.petfinder.com) courtesy of Pilot Bob of Pilots N Paws Canada, pilotsnpawscanada.com. Take it from Etta James, the skies above are always blue when your heart is wrapped up in Clover!
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