Gail Moerkerken was a charter founder of Big Heart Rescue, formally organized in 2002.  Gail exemplifies compassion and integrity in animal rescue and one of her first cases was the little pup, Spirit, story below.  After Gail retired in August of 2011, Spirit’s story was no longer included on Big Heart’s website, and Critteraid, along with other rescue groups, felt that we would like to share that story as Spirit’s struggle represents so many animals that come in to rescue organizations.  Gail has written it well, and we are proud and honoured to share her story of this amazing dog who got to know the love of a wonderful family.  The work that Big Heart has done in our northern communities is exemplary, and the distemper virus has been eradicated from the area where Spirit was from.  Rescue certainly does make a difference.

The call came from Bella Bella just after Christmas. A pup had been immersed in gasoline and needed help, would I take her?? Within a few shorts hours this little girl was on a plane and delivered into my open arms. A wee little face, a face filled with sadness and despair looked into my eyes. I named her Spirit, for I knew she was a fighter with strength deep within her soul. Her tummy rumbled from lack of food and her rear legs wobbled back and forth…no steady gate on this little one, no playful antics of a well loved pup, but I knew I could change that, because love can heal all wounds, can’t it?

The first seizure hit a few hours after little Spirit was home, but I was not concerned. I had been previously blessed with a loving companion, Goldie, who also had epilepsy and lived a wonderful and carefree life for 13 years. I knew what to do and how to handle this, didn’t I ?

The anxious visits to the vets office became too numerous to remember in the few short days of Spirit’s relationship with me, and all those who came in contact with her fell immediately in love. I knew she was a survivor with a will as strong as mine, wasn’t it ?

My heart smiled when the puppy kisses came freely, when the lanky paws stepped in overflowing bowls of food, when exploration of a warm and safe house became the days activity. And then, when the other four legged family members looked at me with inquisitive faces, as if to ask, why does she tumble so much, why does she cry in pain, why is she so afraid, I could only answer with, she has not ever known enough love and I can change that, can’t I ?

Yet on New Year’s Eve, all the cuddles, warmth, love and medical miracles could not save little Spirit. She was overcome with a massive seizure, was unconscious and experienced additional seizures on the frantic five minute drive to the vets office. As the vet approached with kind and reassuring words the tears flowed. I knew that my love and devotion could not restore her health, didn’t I ? It had been discovered that Spirit had distemper and not epilepsy, though she was a valiant fighter with the will of a warrior, she did not have a fighting chance.

Spirit was wrapped in her favorite blanket, cuddled in my arms like a new born babe. I softly told little Spirit that she was a blessing, that she had brought such joy into my life and while I was grateful for her gift, it was time for her to be at peace and move into my father’s awaiting arms because he knew this little girl was on her way to be with him, always safe, loved and cherished, as every soul should be, shouldn’t they!

My life is forever changed because of a pup named Spirit, and I will continue on with her presence beside me, as I work for those who have no voice.

Thank you Spirit for your courage and love, you have touched my heart and I will remain forever changed.

With gratitude,


Registered Charity No: 89308-0770-RR0001 at the Summerland Cat Sanctuary Society

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