Celebrating a strong, creative, resilient Lunenburg County
NOW, MORE THAN EVER...
Story by TINA HENNIGAR
At first, I assumed that the story I’m about to share with you was a local urban legend. But I can assure you, there is nothing fictitious about it. I heard it straight from the source one sunny afternoon while drinking beer on the patio at the Saltbox Brewery. The story goes something like this…
Moira (“Mo”) Devereaux and Dea (pronounced “Day-a”) are a dynamic duo living in Mahone Bay. Mo is a physiotherapist, and the couple moved from Ontario in 2011 so that Mo could purchase and run a small physiotherapy clinic in town called
“Fluid Motion Physiotherapy”. A few years later, Dea opened up “Sprig” the coolest gift shop and “apothecary” right next door to Mo’s. With plant-based soaps, lotions, cleaning products, succulents, fresh flowers and unique home décor items, it’s like something straight out of Real Simple magazine.
The couple are fondly known around town as “the happiest couple you’ll ever meet” and you’d often run into them volunteering, walking their Aussie-shepherd dog “Gabe”, or gardening in the yard of their most adorable house on the corner that looks like a classic, wood-shingled country cottage. Mo would take Gabe to the clinic with her where he would frequently greet her clients, and often sit next to those who seemed in need of additional comfort during their rehab sessions.
One day Mo was in her yard putting the final touches on a wooden fence she’d been repairing. She offers up a wry grin as she recalls receiving a myriad of neighbourly advice about how best to fix the fence. “Folks would see me alone out there with my tool belt and my power drill and wanted to make sure I had a handle on things,” she tells me. On this particular afternoon, she remembers seeing out of the corner of her eye a gentleman ride by on his bike and turn around to circle back to her. “Oh no,” she thought, “not another man offering the little lady some fence-building advice.” The man got off his bike and walked over to Mo.
“Hi there,” the man greeted her. “You don’t know me,” he said, “but my name is Art and my wife used to walk by your house and admire your dog in the yard.”
“Oh!” replied Mo, somewhat surprised. “Yes, that was Gabe.”
“You don’t have your dog anymore,” Art stated more than asked.
“No,” said Mo sadly, “he passed away suddenly last year”.
“Yes, so I heard,” said Art. “So did my wife.”
Mo was a little stunned. “I’m so sorry,” she said.
“Well, the thing is,” Art carried on, “I have to sell my house now and I’m moving into an apartment where they won’t take dogs.” As Art started to tear up a bit he continued. “And I’ve heard in the neighborhood that you and your partner are nice
people, and…and…I’m wondering if you would take my dog.”
Mo was taken aback and somewhat overwhelmed by Art’s emotional plea. Without thinking she put her hands on his shoulders and blurted, “Of course! Of course, we’ll take your dog!”
Art in return seemed stunned by Mo’s sudden acceptance of his offer. “Oh great! I can’t believe it! That’s such a relief! How great!” He turned around and hopped on his bicycle. “I am so grateful. I’ll be in touch to introduce you to the dog!” And off he pedalled.
Needless to say, Mo was a bit perplexed. As Art suddenly rode off, she realized she had no idea where he lived, how to contact him, or what she’d actually committed to. When Dea arrived home that evening, she asked Mo how her day had gone.
“Great,” said Mo. “I finished the fence, I mowed the lawn, and I got us a dog.” “What do you mean you got us a dog?” Dea said wide eyed. “What kind of dog?” “I don’t know!” said Mo, just as wide-eyed.
“How old is the dog?” asked Dea?
“I don’t know!” said Mo.
“Where is the dog?” asked Dea.
“I don’t know!” Mo then relayed the story about what had happened in the yard.
The next day, Art re-appeared at their front door. He lived only a few blocks away, having moved to Mahone Bay to retire with his wife Marty. She had passed away suddenly from a stroke within the same year. Their dog “Kaha” (a New Zealand Maori word meaning “brave one”) was a 75 lb. golden doodle full of energy and affection. Dea and Mo agreed to start walking Kaha during the three weeks prior to Art’s move. By the time Art was ready to leave town, Kaha’s transition to Mo and Dea’s care was an easy one.
It didn’t take long for that big dog to wiggle his way into the couple’s everyday existence. If he didn’t go to work with Mo in her clinic, he could be found curled up behind the sales counter in Dea’s shop. Passersby would often see the fluffy white dog bouncing lightly across the distance between their two businesses. Kaha soon became a part o f both their establishments; people would enter the front door and ask, “Is Kaha here?” Parents would bring their kids to sit on the floor with him. Out-of-towners would post pictures of themselves with him. Dea and Mo would forward Art the photos of Kaha being lovingly embraced by the local
community. When Kaha eventually passed away the grief washed over Mo and Dea like a giant wave. “Our sadness was palpable. But the outpouring of compassion and support we received from our friends and neighbours was overwhelming,” said Mo. Dea added. “We feel so lucky to be a part of this place. It’s really one of the reasons we moved here...to feel more connected to a community”.
I asked Mo and Dea if they were thinking about getting another dog. Mo takes a long, reflective pause, “The poet Robert Frost once wrote ‘fences make good neighbours.’ I think he meant something different than our experience. All I know is, it’s time for me to build a new front gate. We’ll see who passes by...”