Curley, the Westie, wins her dream

Every stray dog has a story. But until we crack the Bark Code and learn the language, I’ll keep making them up.

We’ve had directionally-challenged travelling sales-dogs, beauty school drop-outs and banished princesses to name a few.

The cute little elf pictured here? I’m guessing she walked away from a decent job at Santa’s workshop to pursue her dream of winning ‘Best in Show’!

My biographical theory for this 1 1/2-year-old West Highland White Terrier mix, barely weighing more than a dram of Scotch whiskey, may seem far-fetched but it makes perfect sense considering the evidence.

Aptly dubbed Curley was found begging for scraps just a snowball’s throw away from the North Pole. How she wound up in the sled-dog capital of Iqaluit, Nunavut, will forever remain a mystery. But how she got in from the cold to permanently thaw those curls is no mystery at all. It’s a miracle.

The only animal shelter in Iqaluit is sadly closing due to lack of funds. Amidst an overflow of homeless huskies and malamutes was little Curley. She’d been rescued off the streets in the knick of time after suffering frostbite on her paws, the tips of her ears and along the flank of her tiny frame likely from sleeping on the permafrost.

Had she not been rescued when she was, her story wouldn’t have ended well. With the shelter about to close and winter fast approaching, she would have fallen victim to arctic temperatures of -70 degrees! I’m sure she felt like a pupsicle nonetheless. Curley was so severely matted, she could barely walk. Our wee lass was in dire need of specialized care. The staff called Westies in Need (WiN) with high hopes for Curley.

In just 2 1/2 years, the volunteer-based group has become the largest Westie rescue organization in Canada. Last year, 82 homeless Westies won with WiN. It owes this proud achievement to an incredible group of devoted volunteers making it possible to come to the rescue of their beloved breed (including the occasional Westie mix) no matter where the dog may be…even the North Pole.

They also owe their success to a little fundraising event they call the Westie Walk (hosted in Toronto and Ottawa) that isn’t so little anymore! In fact, the Toronto Westie Walk is about to rock the Mississauga Valley Park with over 200 Westies and friends on Sunday, Sept. 11.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

It was only a few weeks ago Curley-Top and a dozen other canine refugees from the north boarded a cargo flight from Iqaluit to Ottawa where they were warmly greeted by volunteers from a variety of rescue groups. It was, undoubtedly, a moving scene but Curley has put it all behind her.

It took patience and precision to cut away the cement curls impeding her movement but when the matted cocoon was finally shed, a 12 pound beautiful butterfly fluttered into focus! When she’s not flying through the air in her Ottawa foster home, lighting on the couch for a snooze, or devouring her food and practically the bowl along with it, Curley is doling out butterfly kisses. Word has it she’s an excellent kisser.

You may be wondering about that pie-in-the-sky dream of hers…to win Best in Show. Given her newly acquired pilot’s license, that dream is finally within reach. Maybe not courtesy of Westminster, but lots of bagpipe dreams come true at the Westie Walk!

The signature fundraiser may be called a Walk, but the actual walk is getting shorter every year. That’s because there’s way too much fun to be had after the walk! There’s the Wiener Dunkin’ competition where apples have been replaced with hotdogs (use your imagination). And don’t forget Musical Hoops, involving hula hoops instead of chairs. But the biggest, bestest part of the day are the Terrier Races! Since the bagpiper-led Walk itself kicking off the event lasts all of 20 minutes, the dogs have plenty energy left to race for prizes!

This delightful event not only brings Westie enthusiasts and their dogs (both Westies and Westie wanna-bees!) together for a fun-filled day, it raises awareness and support for a very special cause. Nothing brings this to mind and heart better than the Parade of Rescues at the tail-end of the opening ceremonies. Proudly marching together are all those who have been adopted, together with those still up for adoption. If seeing their perky tails in constant motion with every happy paw-step they take doesn’t warm your heart, you probably need a Curley kiss!

Speaking of Curley, there’s still that issue of her bagpipe dream. As luck would have it, an esteemed panel of judges at the event will be choosing all sorts of winners from a photo contest that runs throughout the year. The big prize just happens to be…you guessed it…Best in Show!

She may be only part Scottish, but I’ve got paws crossed the pipes are calling for Curley this year!

Curley is a 1 1/2-year-old female West Highland White Terrier mix pursuing her dreams courtesy of Westies in Need,,, 905-936-6691 (Corrie).
Come out and help make more dreams come true for dogs like Curley by joining in the fun at the Toronto Westie Walk on Sunday, Sept. 11 in the Mississauga Valley Park from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Rain or Shine! These hearty little Highlanders were born to brave the Moors of Scotland. They won’t melt!

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