Best of Friends

Preamble Elsewhere on this website, I briefly describe my long practice of attending closely to the perceptual superpowers of a succession of beloved canine companions – a kind of seeing-eye-dog relationship that has over time heightened my awareness of certain aspects of the Living World, not least the existence of powerful restorative linkages usually withheld, it seems to me, from the western mind.

In this third of six Edgewood offerings, I again take up my canine theme, this time focusing on the profoundly reciprocal bond inherent in human-canine interaction. More than that, I venture to suggest that few of us ever plumb the depths of the possible in this kind of relationship – a relationship that obtains, astonishingly enough, between two species evolutionarily separated by nearly 300 million years.

Now it also seems to me that many pervasive social ills including depression, anxiety, loneliness and meaningless are at least partly traceable to our current profound psychic separation from the Living World That Sustains Us; and indeed that this sense of separation is the price we pay for human exceptionalism; for if otherwise, it would hard to account for the sixth global extinction now underway.

Here I suggest that deeply reciprocal relationships with our canine friends – and to some extent also with our feline friends – can act as corrective to these and other social ills, effectively helping to walk us back from human exceptionalism. I also suggest that this possibility counts as excellent news in these Pandoracenean times, and warrants apprenticeship.

How and why I’ve come to believe these things is rather a long and involved story – a story I look forward to sharing with self-selected audiences here at Edgewood Blue, a story that will, I hope, prompt similar stories and so lead to heartfelt conversation around the campfire.

For now, however, let me simply trace in outline the shape of a deeply reciprocal relationship I once enjoyed with a certain canine friend who responded, as she felt inclined, to the name Purple.

The event recounted in the following newspaper article has inclined many people to the belief that the late beloved Purple was one smart dog, as indeed she was. Still, I like to think her actions on that longest night of my life – orders of magnitude beyond than anything reported here – gesture to another truth also, a truth infinitely more bracing, indeed even hope-giving.

Purple and Trevor by Louis Bockner 2018
©2018 Louis Bockner

Newspaper Article

by Jaime Polmateer, Local Clearwater Times, Oct. 22, 2019 2:37 p.m.

Upper Clearwater man’s canine leads rescue mission


hen Trevor Goward went for a recent afternoon stroll up the mountainside with his canine companion, Purple, he had no idea his life would soon be in her paws.

Goward was on his way back down the trails in Upper Clearwater as it was turning dusk when he tripped on a log and dislocated his shoulder after putting his hands out to break his fall.

“My arm was sort of hanging down and I realized I was in too much pain to do much, so after thinking about the options available I decided to send Purple down to get help. I said, ‘Can you go get Curtis?’” said Goward, referring to his partner, Curtis Bjork, who was back at the house working in the garden.

“She looked at me and she knew there was something wrong. As soon as I said it, she just ran down the trail.”

When Purple made the 2.5 km journey back to the house it didn’t take Bjork long to realize something was off. Judging by her agitation and the absence of Trevor he sprang into action himself, grabbing extra clothing and survival supplies.

Before heading into the bush he made contact with neighbours Mike and Susan Ward, who along with Bjork are part of the Upper Clearwater Fire Brigade. As luck would have it the Wards also had dinner guests, Lisa and George Seip, who had medic training.

The Ward’s immediately contacted others in the brigade, as well as the RCMP, while Bjork took no time in putting his faith in Purple, telling her to, “Find Trevor.”

“(Ward’s guests) had training, so they went to help Curtis while Mike stayed in contact via radio; Curtis also had GPS and we had the exact location and printed a map,” said Steve Murray, chief of the Upper Clearwater Fire Brigade.

“So Mike had also mobilized Search and Rescue (SAR) and we were able to provide an exact location of where Trevor was.”

Bjork had followed Purple up the trail, with Purple pausing every time there was a fork in the path and barking to make sure she was being followed correctly until sure enough, they came upon Goward, who was shivering and becoming incoherent.

A fire was quickly made and Bjork gave Goward a few more layers of clothing as well as a Tylenol for the pain.

By the time SAR arrived there were two choices: wait until morning and airlift Goward out, or help him down the mountain on foot. The group decided the latter was the best course of action and when Ward and Murray arrived onsite they began cutting a path down the dark, log littered trail to make the trip easier.

“It was a really long walk. I could only go so far and I have no memory of how many times we stopped,” said Goward.

“I was in shock and had hypothermia.”

The situation also drove home the fact that the Upper Clearwater Fire Brigade – a relatively new organization that’s still acquiring gear and equipment – would benefit greatly from having every member equipped with GPS units.

Goward added that while he was waiting by himself he didn’t think he was going to make it, even taking a voice recorder out of his pocket and calmly dictating his final good-byes to the world.

He said had Purple not known what to do, he has no doubts that would have been the result, as it would have taken hours, or perhaps days, before anyone would have found him.

“There was no rescue without the dog. We could mobilize and get ready to go, but we needed a direction and Purple had the direction down pat,” said Murray.

Bjork said he and Goward have been looking at Purple with special affection since the ordeal, while Purple spent hours immediately following the situation looking at Goward with noticeable concern.

“I’ve lived with lots of intelligent dogs in my life, but Purple is in a class of her own,” Goward said.

[sc]POSTSCRIPT.[/sc] Incidentally, this story got picked up by at least sixty newspapers and other news outlets (see below) across British Columbia and as far away as Toronto – presumably an unselfconscious confirmation of the power such stories of interspecies reciprocity hold for many of us. Now why is that, do you suppose?

May Purple love be with you always —Trevor

Next up: Gaian Reconciliation?–5-km-for-help-after-owner-falls-while-hiking-in-b-c-interior-1.10121134–10/824081.html–5-km-for-help-after-owner-falls-while-hiking-in-b-c-interior-1.4654471