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Orphaned dogs help new owners feel at home in Labrador

The dogs with their new owners, Amanda MacNeil and Matt Fukala.
The dogs with their new owners, Amanda MacNeil and Matt Fukala.

Thanks to a couple new to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, two orphaned dogs have found a  home and, in doing so, have helped their owners settle into life in the Big Land.

The well cared for dogs were placed in the care of the SPCA in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in September 2016 after their owner (who lived previously in Quebec) died suddenly just weeks after moving to the area.

The dogs spent several months at the shelter before being adopted by Amanda MacNeil and her partner Matt Fukala.

The couple – who are both from Cape Breton - moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in January when Fukala was stationed there for his work with the Coast Guard.

MacNeil now works as public relations and special events manager with the Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“Dogs have always been a big part of what Matt and I wanted in our future... both of us have wanted to adopt a dog but it never was the right time for us,” MacNeil said during a recent phone interview.

Once they moved to Labrador, she said, they both felt it was time to open their hearts and home to a puppy.

The couple, who had heard great things about the SPCA, decided to go there to learn more about its adoption process.

“We went over and we spent time with puppies which we thought, at first, was the route we were going to go. There were a couple of adult dogs that were really great and it was clear that everyone cared a lot about them and were eager to find them a home.”

After deciding that they’d adopt the adult dogs, MacNeil returned to the shelter to pick them up while her partner was at work.

“Matt came home to find me and two dogs waiting for him. That was great,” MacNeil said.

The couple has named the dogs Rory and Nova.

“Rory (the daughter who is about two years old) is a little bit more timid that Nova (the mother who is about four years old)... It has nothing to do with the way they were taken care of. They are well behaved, super nurturing and great with people.”

Nova is a great mother who takes care of Rory, MacNeil said.

“It’s apparent that they still really connect with each other,” she said.

MacNeil said many people in the town know about the dog’s sad story and are happy to know they’ve been adopted – together – into a new home.

When asked what the dogs have bought to her life, MacNeil said, the animals have completed her journey to Labrador.

“We moved here and we weren’t sure what was going to happen. It was a new environment. Being away from family can be hard but the dogs are so amazing. You come home and the first thing you see is them coming towards you. They are so loving, it’s heartwarming.”

MacNeil said she has experienced a lot of loss in the past couple of years. The dogs are emotional therapy for her, she said.

“They are helping me through my period of transition and grief and I’m so happy to help with theirs.”

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