This past March, Candace Cornock of Ladysmith welcomed a new dog into her life.
Gracie, who is approximately two years old, arrived in Ladysmith March 31 after flying 36 hours from Thailand. It was a long journey for a dog, but the journey to get adopted by a Ladysmith family was even longer and more harrowing for Gracie.
Gracie is a rescue dog. She was found at the side of the road in Thailand, very near death. She was suffering from extreme starvation, mange, wounds to her front legs and burns from a hot substance being thrown on her, according to Cornock.
Luckily, a rescue volunteer saw Gracie, and she was taken to the Soi Dog Foundation shelter in Thailand.
And that’s where Cornock found her.
Cornock has a good friend who adopted a dog from Soi Dog, and when she saw the foundation’s website, she started researching more about the rescue foundation and wanted to help. Based in Thailand, the rescue foundation has support groups all over the world, most notably in Australia, the U.K, and the U.S.
Cornock soon started sponsoring Gracie, who was not healthy enough to be adopted. After months of medical care, Gracie recovered and was nursed back to health, and when she was well enough to be adopted, the Cornocks adopted her and had her flown to B.C.
When Gracie first came to Ladysmith, she was very loving but very apprehensive and scared of any quick movement and of people approaching her, says Cornock.
Gracie didn’t know any English words, and she wasn’t used to playing with toys or sleeping in a bed, like Cornock’s other dogs.
But despite her emotional and physical scars, Cornock says Gracie is a very loving dog.
“Rescue dogs seem to know they’ve been given a second chance, and they seem to exude love in a bigger quantity than other dogs,” she said. “She was almost beaten to death, and she’s still very apprehensive of a pat on the head. It’s amazing, their ability to trust people.”
Cornock says Gracie has improved through a lot of positive reinforcement, a quiet ambience in the house and people being careful to not move too quickly around her.
“I think the key word is patience — just give her time and lots and lots of love,” she said. “She’s gained a lot of self-confidence and learned to play. I took her through puppy class, and that was a challenge because she’s terrified of other dogs she doesn’t know, but she came through the class well. She loves to eat squeaky toys.”
Cornock is now the co-ordinator for the Canadian Support Group of Soi Dog. The foundation did not have a Canadian Support Group until Cornock started getting one up and running this past summer.
“it’s about time we get helping or at least more knowledgeable about what’s going on there,” said Cornock.
Soi Dog works to rescue and save thousands of dogs in Thailand from horrific cruelty and neglect and also against the illegal dog meat trade there, explained Cornock, noting that Soi Dog has rescued more than 30,000 dogs in the last seven years.
In this first year as co-ordinator of the Canadian Support Group, Cornock says her main goal is to raise awareness.
“I’ve met quite a few people who think the dog meat issue over there is legal and like us eating cow meat here,” she said. “The whole issue is it’s not humanely done. It’s illegal and horrifically done, and that’s the issue, if we can at least get that out. Even the Thai government is working hard to try to stop this. They’re working with Soi Dog over there and the police, so we have their support — it’s just that they’re not very well-manned.”
To raise money to help Soi Dog, Cornock will be shaving her head Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. right outside the Coast Realty office at the corner of First Avenue and Roberts Street.
Every cent raised will go directly to Soi Dog to aid the dogs there.
On Nov. 10, Cornock will have her head shaved in public, and she will have display tables set up, free cookies and coffee. She will set up a donation jar, and, weather permitting, Gracie, will be there.
Cornock’s head shave is her second fundraiser this year.
In July, she raised almost $1,500 for Soi Dog during a two-day garage sale.
Cornock finds it easy to support Soi Dog.
“I think it’s one of the better charitable causes I’ve ever seen due to the overwhelmingly horrific nature of the suffering the dogs are enduring, and they don’t have the means locally to stop the illegal meat trade without international support,” she said. “We’ve got to put an end to the illegal meat trade.”
Cornock has always had a soft spot for rescuing animals.
“I’m always doing animal rescues,” she said. “They find me. It’s just got to a point where people find me when they find animals.”
Cornock says her husband Gordon has been a huge help. Together, they do a lot of rescue work for the SPCA and Salt Spring Island Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation.
Cornock is currently collecting pledges for her head shave, and she has a pledge sheet she can e-mail or fax to anyone who is interested. Contact Cornock at 250-245-9832 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.