The true story of a puppy found abandoned in a trash can where he had been left to die.
|"You ask me if I cry" (ISBN 0-9779953-0-5 US$14.95)
This is Jesse’s Story
While shopping at Wal-Mart in Nelson I saw a bulletin board set up by the RSPCA in Nelson, on it was photos of several cats and dogs that were up for adoption. One photo in particular caught my eye; it was of a small brown and black puppy with big sad brown eyes. The captions read “loveable Rotweiler Shepherd mix, will be large dog”, although it was later determined that Jesse was a Bullmastiff Shepherd mix . I had been considering getting a dog to keep me company as I lived in a remote and secluded cabin miles from civilization in the bush wilderness of British Columbia. I called the number listed and arranged a time suitable for viewing and before I knew it I was headed home with my newest friend and companion.
Lost in the Wilds:
The first time that Jesse displayed signs of being a special dog was on one of our bush walks. On most days after the daily work was done around the cabin Jesse and I would treat ourselves to a well deserved walk in the bush. One fateful afternoon we set out on one of our walks, we left the cabin headed east, however I ventured a little too far into the wilderness and became disorientated and lost my sense of direction. I always carried a small backpack when on my walks filled with useful items such as a change of clothing, a knife, fire starter and other wilderness survival pieces including a compass, however to my disbelief I found the compass broken. I failed to do 2 important things prior to my walk, leave a note on the cabin or radio someone as to where I was going and when I would be returning, I also failed to check my equipment prior to my walk.
I was in an area where the trees where so thick and so tall trying to locate a familiar object for a point of reference was not possible, so goes the old saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees” rang true on that day. I left the cabin at about 12:30, it was now 2:30 and I knew that it would be dark by half 5 and I didn’t really want to get caught in the bush after dark.
By 3:30 I was starting to panic as I was now most certain that I would be roughing it in the bush. Jesse sensed my panic and bewildered mood and he began running out into the bush and returning a short time later. After a couple of trips out, Jesse returned and began running around in circles and walking back out into the bush. He would go out a few feet turn and bark, after a few attempts to get me to follow him, Jesse began barking in a manner that suggested that he was upset with my refusal to follow.
I was hesitant to go against my feelings that I should take advantage of what light I had to locate shelter for the night but I turn against that and followed Jesse. It was now 5pm and I had been following Jesse for over an hour and a half, the sun was going down and it was already dark in the bush, I was having trouble seeing more than a few inches and had to keep my hand on Jesses back for guidance. Jesse and I emerged from the bush an hour later 100 feet from the north side of our cabin, it was like something out of a Lassie episode. That night Jesse had earned his right of passage, we had a homecoming calibration and Jesse was well rewarded with a meal fit for a king. This was just first of many times Jesse would come to my aid and rescue, and so began a bond between me and mans best friend.
The Arrival of the Unwanted Visitor:
Weeks past and my wife was finally on her way up our log cabin in the mountains of British Columbia. Hours before she was due to arrive at the bus station many miles away, I put Jesse in the cabin and set out his food and water for the day, and then I drove down the long winding dirt road that led to a paved road leading to civilization. It was early morning the next day when I arrived back at the cabin with my wife, and I was sure that Jesse had soiled the house and chewed up anything within his grasp however to my surprise I found just the opposite.
When I introduced Jesse to my wife he wasn’t at all impressed with the woman I had drug into his cabin. As we went about the task of getting settled into the cabin and throughout the remainder of the day Jesse would growl in protest and avoided my wife whenever possible. When we prepared for bed that first night Jesses record for not soiling the house was unblemished but that was about to change.
Jesse, prior to my wife’s arrival was the master of the house and had slept in the middle or at the foot of the bed with me since he first arrived, that night I place another twin air mattress next to mine and made up a place for Jesse to sleep next to that, Jesse knew something was afoot.
When we turned in and I placed Jesse in the bed that I made for him and I took my place next to the wall and my wife was between me and Jesse. For the first time since I adopted Jesse he wined, cried and howled while standing on his rear legs peering over my wife to see me, after 20 minutes he stopped and we assumed he had just settled down and adjusted After a few minutes my wife screamed out, it seems that Jesse had taken a civil disobedience approach to this woman who invaded his home by hiking his leg and empting his bladder on her head, so ending his record for not soiling the house.
The following night Jesse made it quite clear that this woman wasn’t getting her way and marched right up the between us laid down growled and bared his teeth at my wife and went to sleep. Never again would he ever let this rude woman come between us.
The Dance of the Kodiak:
One afternoon while chopping Jesse would once again prove his medal. Foolishly I was in a bad habit of chopping wood with my back to the forest but on this day that would forever change. As always Jesse took up a spot near me as I chopped and as normal he would find a chunk of wood to attack and chew on so it wasn’t out of the ordinary to hear him growl and bark. But on this day his growls and barks became very intense all the while ramming his body into my back legs, and it was the glanced over my shoulder that told me why Jesse was acting this way. There before me no more than 200 feet away standing fully upright was a nine foot two thousand pound Kodiak bear that had wondered from the bush into the back yard. Jesse was charging at the bear and taking his stance within 5 feet or so then returning to push me backwards toward the cabin. On one of his returns I grab him up but he wiggled and struggled loose and continued with his charge, without hesitation and armed with only a woodsman axe I advanced toward this massive creature to retrieve my dog. I knew from books read to make myself as big as possible and at the same time make as much noise as possible.
To my wife who came out of the cabin screaming it must have looked as though I had lost my mind to see me walking towards that Grizzly with only an axe, my body and arms shaking violently as though I was having a seizure or trying to perform one of those new wave dances. I was now 100 feet from certain death still trying to save this scrappy pup who oddly enough was trying to save me, to this day I swear I could feel the hot stench of the Grizzly’s breath.
I was about to reach down and grab Jesse when the Kodiak drop down to all fours turned and walk back into the bush. I grabbed Jesse by the scruff of the neck and quickly retreated backwards to the safety of the cabin, once inside I dropped to the floor in a cold sweat all the while Jesse still growling and barking defensibly. The rest of that day was spent in a state of shock over my near death experience, I was well aware that very few people that ever encountered a Kodiak in the wild lived to tell the tale. Jesse and I were very lucky and I chalk most of it up to the fact that the bear was still groggy from a long winters nap and just uninterested with us, and possibly combined with the shock of a pup that was nothing more that a chicken mc nugget to him and a lunatic bushman charging at him.
After my nerves had settled, I recapped the events of the day and of Jesse heroic and unselfish act and of his willingness to lay down his life to protect me. I recalled scripture from the bible John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend”. The whole event lasted less than 5 minutes but it felt more like a life time, and I often cringe when I think about that time when Jesse and I dared to dance with a Kodiak in the light of the new fallen snow. To this day I can not get but a couple of steps from Jesse till he is up and at my side providing protection.
Later that night while my wife and I were having dinner, she asks me “What in the world were you thinking!”. I replied, I was thinking, “Oh well what the hey these trousers are washable!”. My wife was not amused with my answer.
Jesse takes a name:
When Jesse was rescued by the Nelson SPCA the volunteers there named him Cole, a name that he never took to nor would he answer to. One night my wife and I where having a conversation over supper about a friend of hers who had just had a baby, and that she had decided to name him “Jesse”.
Cole was laying under the table at the time and when my wife said the name “Jesse” and he got up and came to us as if to say “hello, you called?” At first we didn’t take notice until Cole had walked off and my wife said the name “Jesse” again, and he ran back to us. This time we took notice, so we decided to try an experiment and waited till he had walked away and I called out “Jesse come here”, sure enough he came running to me as to say “well it’s about time you called me by my name”. From that night on he always answered when we called out “Jesse”.
Now Jesse had a first name but no last name, so over the next few days we came up with many last names, but none really seem to fit this loveable rebel pup. After three weeks my wife and I decide to break up our routine and take a 4 hour trip to Nelson and stay the night.
Once in Nelson my wife couldn’t resist calling her mother and telling her all about the adventure she was having in the wilderness bush of the Great White North.
Now my wife and her two brothers were children of a railroad worker / farmer father and a stay at home mother, they were raised on a small farm in southern Illinois. Her two brothers married money hungry women just out of high school and quickly shunned the embarrassment of the simple farm life in favour of high society.
With the exception of my wife her two brothers and their wives are all “want to be” “well to do’s”, who were all snobs living well beyond their financial means, always flashing cash in church and dropping names to impress people.
When my wife made the call to her mother one of her brothers answered the phone instead, so began a question and answer session by her brother. I noticed that the longer she talked with her brother her smile and cheerful demeanour changed.
After an hour my wife hung up and explained that her brothers and their wives were not pleased at all that she would actually consider owning a log cabin much less consider living in one in the wilderness, and that she was causing them a great deal of embarrassment having a family member living like Grizzly Adams.
My wife explained that her brothers told her that normal people do not live that way anymore unless they were “bank robbers”, “outlaws” or hiding from the government, at the very moment she had uttered the last sentence I knew what Jesse’s full name was to be.
I conclude that if they were going to brand us outlaws for wanting to live a quiet simple life then we would associate ourselves with the most famous rebel outlaw in U.S History and so the name ”Jesse Woodson James” was bestowed upon a little rebel bullmastiff pup once called Cole.
Three men down on the Patrick McKinley:
As I had mentioned earlier growing up I had 2 best mates, the first was William (Scotty) Wallace and the second was a well spoken Irishman named Patrick McKinley. Patrick was very punctual and very prompt, he was the friend that was always there and never let anyone down, and so it wasn’t a big surprise when Scotty christened his bush plane “The Patrick McKinley”.
One afternoon while chopping wood, Jesse and I heard a faint but familiar sound and after a few minutes we saw Scotty’s bush plane appear from over Grinch Mountain. As he flew past he tipped his wings to say “hello, be down in a minute”, as I turned to grab my rifle I saw Jesse running full speed down the path leading to where Scotty would usually land.
I started down the path at a causal stroll, long about half way to the landing area I met up with Jesse and Scotty and judging from the grin on Scotty’s face a trip for Jesse and me laid ahead, little did we know just what this trip would bring.
Scotty was headed northeast toward Peace River and wanted Jesse and me to fly up with him to make his deliveries and then over to his home in Dawson, he guarantee some scenic views and that we would be back in a few days.
Since evening was falling Scotty decided to stay the night and leave first thing the next morning. Crack of dawn found Jesse, Scotty and myself loading up the Patrick McKinley for our trip northwards, I brought along the usual, my bush bag (full of item for survival in the wilderness) and my backpack which contained a change of clothes, gloves, 3 day supply of c-rations, plastic bags, water proof thermo sleeping bag & swag, I also brought food for Jesse and a few toys to keep him occupied in flight.
Scotty fired up the plane and that was Jesse’s boarding call as he leaped from shore to boardwalk into the back seat like lighting. I secured Jesse in his seat with the seatbelt and his special seatbelt halter and gave him a few chew toys. I climbed in and before I knew it we were flying over the cabin on our way to Dawson via Prince George and Peace River.
We arrived in Prince George and while Scotty refuelled and picked up some parcels, Jesse took a toilet break and I got him some cold spring water out and by then it was time to take off, our next stop was just south of Peace River.
The flight was as always with nothing out of the ordinary except for the scenery, which was till we were just over a wilderness park reserve when suddenly a loud “BANG” rang out as if some one had fired a gun inside the plane.
The plane began to spit and sputter, Scotty gripped the yoke and started checking the gauges, and as if we didn’t have enough trouble the plane hit a high low outside air pressure causing an unpleasant turbulent, then again another loud “BANG” “BANG”. This time fluid covered the outside of the windscreen and black smoke poured out, the engine stalled the gauges went dead and the plane started to nose dive. Scotty called out over the radio in a calm and collected voice called out “Mayday Mayday Mayday Yankee – Tango – Eight - Four - Bravo - Two - Zero we’re going down. Scotty gripping the yoke and yelled stow your gear secure Jesse, were going down. I quickly checked my gear and secured Jesse and placed some furniture pads around him, he was showing no signs of panic or distress although he was in a braced for collision stance. Scotty continued fighting to keep control over the plane, he rechecked his gauges then called out over the radio the words that chilled me to the bone and I knew then that crash was imamate. In a clam and collect voice Scotty called out “Mayday Mayday Mayday..this is Yankee – Tango – Eight - Four - Bravo - Two - Zero - Three Men Down on the Patrick McKinley.. I repeat Three Men Down on the Patrick McKinley”!
The plane began to dive sharply and altitude was dropping faster than what I was comfortable with, when I looked over at Scotty his face showed no signs of fear just a smile, his eyes were twinkling like that of a child’s eyes on Christmas Day, I looked back at Jesse and he too was showing no signs of fear or distress.
My only fear in life was to have died alone and in the company of strangers, I looked down at the rapidly approaching ground and I took comfort in knowing that I wasn’t going to die alone and that I was in good company, I could not have wanted better friends to be with than Jesse and Scotty.
The plane descended into a valley, the tops of the pine trees were now inches from the plane, Scotty still fighting to keep control of the plane when a crashing sound ripped through the plane, the landing pontoon on Scotty’s side was ripped off by a tall tree and the plane was now pitching left and right.
A lake lay just a head, within seconds we were inches over the water, Scotty reached back rubbed Jesse’s head, he then turned to me still smiling his eyes still twinkling reached out shook my hand and said “Its been a pleasure mate”, I quietly replied “same here you crazy lunatic”, I turned back to Jesse, kissed him turned back piled up some furniture pads on the dash and took a crash landing position best I could.
Then like a roller coaster ride from hell the plane hit the lake spinning and flipping eventually coming to rest upside down, the left door of the plane had been ripped away in the crash and water was rushing in. Jesse had broken free of his harness and was crawling about the cockpit crying out in pain, Scotty appeared to be fumbling to undo his seat belt and I was in a certain amount of pain. I removed my seatbelt reached over undid Scotty’s and pushed him out, I then pushed Jesse out and quickly searched for my bush bag and Alice pack and threw them out, I grabbed the 30/30 lever action rifle, first aid kit, and abandoned the plane. The water was ice cold and I was quickly became numb, my treks in the South Pacific taught me many survival tips one of which was to keep a floatation device in my bush bag and backpack in case the plane or boat went down in open water, by doing this it would keep my bags (full of survival gear) afloat and I could also use them to hold on to.
I held on to the bags and used them to stay afloat and kick and paddled with my legs toward shore, I reached the shore and crawled onto the rocks and tried to stand up, I was numb, there was a pain in my head running down my neck into my back, I was nauseous and I felt very sleepy, my training from my Regimental days in the Queens Territorial Army took over and I knew I was suffering from a concussion and I needed to stay wake and alert. I felt something warm flowing down my face, it was blood coming out of deep cuts over my left eye and near the hair line, four of my fingers on my left hand were broken, my whole hand was swollen and turning black and blue, my right ankle was swollen and I had a deep cut down my leg. Having assessed my condition I looked around for Jesse and Scotty, they were nowhere to be found, I looked back to the wrecked plane which was about to go under and spotted Jesse pulling Scotty towards the shore.
Jesse pulled Scotty face up onto the shore and then lay down exhausted, I checked Scotty out, he was unconscious and bleeding badly, blood was all over his head, chest and legs and there was something sticking out of his leg, and on further examination it was actually bone sticking out. I looked around for a place to take Jesse and Scotty where I could further assess their situation and administer proper first aid. I spotted a 12 foot mound of driftwood fifty feet away that I could use to start a fire and decided to get Jesse and Scotty over to it, Jesse was laying on his side so I picked him up and carried him over to the mound of driftwood first and then I went back for Scotty. I put my arms under Scotty’s arms from the back and gently lifted him up and carefully pulled him over and placed him near Jesse. The cold had taken its toll on all of us there was any time to play around with putting together tender to start a fire so I pulled out a hand flare lit it and placed in the mound of driftwood, in minutes the driftwood was aflame. I changed out of my wet clothes and placed my thermo sleeping bag under Scotty to get him off the cold ground and I placed Jesse on it as well.
I started a check of Jesse and Scotty, Jesse was favouring his rear leg and it was clear he had injured his hip in the crash and had some minor cuts and scrapes, Scotty on the other hand wasn’t as fortunate, he had deep cuts and lacerations about his head, neck and chest, a large piece of metal was sticking through his forearm and it was clear from the bone sticking out that he had broken his leg. With stitching tape and flexible collodium from my first aid kit I patched up Jesse, Scotty and myself best I could and started checking out our current situation, it was 5 in the evening and it would be dark, I knew with the scent of our blood in the air and water the cougars and other wild animals would soon catch wind of it.
I started collecting driftwood and built a half circle wall 5 foot high around us and connected it to other mounds of driftwood along the shoreline, with my rifle in hand loaded and at the ready I took a sitting position next to Jesse and Scotty, as darkness fell I set the circle alight. I sat quietly guarding and monitoring Jesse and Scotty; somewhere in the night I collapsed and passed out.
I awoke the next morning to Jesse licking my face, I was weak and groggy the pain in my head was unbearable my left hand was very swollen as was my ankle. Jesse was limping and was very sensitive to my touching his hip but other than that he was moving about well. I checked on Scotty he was semi conscious and not too responsive, I checked his vitals which were stable, he was feverish so I mixed up two paracetamol in a couple ounces of water and gave it to him.
I stood up and looked around, the driftwood I had piled around us had almost burnt out, the larger piles where still burning. I knew that we couldn’t spend another night on the cold shoreline and Jesse and I would have to find proper shelter higher up on the bank, so we took a walkabout to see what we could find.
We entered the dense bush and we hadn’t gone but about 600 feet when Jesse and I came upon some rock cliffs, at the base there was a small enclosed 15x30 box cave which was perfect shelter for a while. Jesse and I returned to the shoreline and I started making a stretcher, I took a wool blanket stretched it over the frame and tied it. The hard part now was moving Scotty onto the stretcher, I tried moving him as carefully as possible but Scotty (still semi conscious) moaned out in pain.
Once I had Scotty on the stretcher and secured I tied a sheet rope to the handles I then squatted down and ran the sheet rope over my shoulders and stood up lifting the front end of the stretcher. I began pulling Scotty over the rocks and up the bank, my hand was so swollen I couldn’t grip the stretcher very well and pulling Scotty with my sprained ankle made it all the more difficult.
It took thirty minutes for me to drag Scotty the 600 feet to the cave, once there I left Scotty on the stretcher as his bed off the ground and propped him up slightly. Jesse and I went back to the shore collected our gear and started gathering up all the firewood we could and built a five foot wall in front of the cave entrance, I then built a camp fire just beyond the entrance for cooking and heating water.
Jesse and I sorted out our gear and inventoried our supplies; we had a dozen MRE’s and a large plastic zipper bag of dog food it wasn’t much but at least we had some food.
After four days Jesse was getting around better but it was obvious that he was in pain, Scotty was conscious and sitting up but he was in bad form and it was clear he wouldn’t be walking out by himself. After Scotty came around I told him of how Jesse had saved his life by pulling him to shore, later Scotty informed me that because of equipment failure he couldn’t activate the emergency beacon and most likely the distress call never made it out, and because he had flow off his chartered course to show me some scenery any rescue party searching for us would be looking elsewhere, my heart dropped into my stomach. That night a half foot of snow fell and a cold front moved in, and although I dreaded the thought of walking out I knew we couldn’t stay put any longer.
After the last time Jesse and I got stuck out in the wilds I decided to purchase a handheld GPS and always checked the rechargeable batteries, I had checked our position a few times already while I waited for Scotty to come around and I knew that we were about 40 to 50km from the nearest town.
At the break of dawn the next morning Jesse and I loaded up, I hoisted the stretcher and started out walking in a north-eastern direction over the mountains towards the nearest town, Jesse at my side still limping but in good spirits.
My walking was hindered and slowed by large downed trees and brush, after 12 hours Jesse and I stopped to make camp and wait till day break, this our 6th night stranded in the wilds. The next morning sore and stiff Jesse and I again set out walking, pulling Scotty on the stretcher, after 5 hours the incline into the mountains became steeper slowing us down even more. After 3 hours we had only climbed a quarter of the way up the side of the ridge, tired and exhausted Jesse and I made camp, our 7th night out.
We collected firewood, boiled some water, open up one of 3 MRE’s left and fixed up tea for Jesse, Scotty and I. Scotty was weak and he was now only able to take in mashed food and broth that I cooked up. After Jesse and Scotty had been fed and attended to, Jesse and I went out to collect more firewood for the night. We had only gone a few feet into the bush when I approached the base of a large tree, then without warning something pounced down from the tree on top of me, it was a young cougar that had been lying in wait for us in the limbs above. --To be contined in the up coming book entitled "You ask me if I cry" 50% of all profits goes to the BC SPCA in Jesse's name to help other abused, abandoned and unwanted animals in British Columbia--
After 15 days of hell in the bush, the hospital was now just a few feet away, it was 7:02am Sunday morning. I approached the emergency room still carrying Jesse in the bed sheet sling around my front and pulling Scotty on the make shift stretcher behind me, as I neared the doors 2 nurses, an orderly and a attending physician who had saw me came running out with a gurney.
In no time they had Scotty on the hospital gurney and wheeled him inside, one nurse and the orderly remained with me and assisted me up to the emergency room doors, as I approached the doors the nurse in charge stopped us at the entrance. She sharply and coldly stated that I could not bring a “dog” into the hospital that it was for people and that she wouldn’t allow it.
I snapped back, “Lady we just spent 15 days in Hell wandering out of the bush, we’re both bleeding and injured. This nurse coldly replied that this so called dog wasn’t going to get any medical attention there, dogs were not better than people and that she wasn’t about to allow me to enter with him.
I was now becoming angry, I replied sharply while peering at her as if I was about to tear her head off and said “you nor anyone else here would qualify to be a freckle on his arse”.
Stunned and shocked that I or anyone would dare challenge her authority, she blurted out her final mistake by saying “just who the hell do you think that damn dog is”.
Peering at her with steely eyes, still gripping my rifle in my left had, I raised my right arm to a 45 degree angle and pointed my finger into her face and in a commanding voice that would have come from that of an S.A.S Instructor, I told her… “You want to know who the hell he is!, I’ll tell you! He’s the HERO that swam 2 miles in the icy Lardeau River to save a 4 year old child’s life!, He’s the one who stood up to a 2000 pound Kodiak bear!, He’s the one who pulled the pilot of the downed bush plane from a watery grave, fought with a cougar to protect both me and the pilot and damn near died in the process!, He’s a Canadian!, A Hero!, And my best mate!, That’s who the HELL he is!!!, Now either get some gauze and a gurney or get the hell out of my way!!!”
The nurse now standing shocked and totally speechless was unaware that just within listening distance had stood another attending physician who took in my plea and walked over and dismissed the nurse telling her that he would handle it.
The young First Nation doctor asked me to follow him, and he led me through the emergency room past other patients that were laying on e.r gurneys. I limped passed them, blood all over my face, and still clinching my rifle in my left hand, with Jesse still strapped in the sling.
As I reached the end of the emergency room the doctor motioned to me to lay Jesse on a gurney to my right. I laid Jesse upon the bed and slipped the sling I was carrying him in from around me. The young doctor quickly started to assess Jesse’s injuries and all the while making Jesse comfortable. He called for a blanket and covered Jesse to keep him warm. He turned to me and told me to take the gurney next to Jesse, he then kindly asked for me to surrender my rifle, and I gratefully complied, he turned and briskly walked away.
Blaze of Glory:
Several weeks passed and I finally received a letter from Scotty; he was now back home in Dawson and had recovered well, he went on to say that he hoped that Jesse and I would make the trip to Dawson for a visit and assured us that we would forever have a place to stay. At the bottom of the letter written in French was an altered version of the poem “Invictus” by William Henley it read “
“Out of the night that covered you, black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever Gods may be for your unconquerable soul.
You fell in the clutch of circumstance, you did not winced nor cried aloud.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears looms but the horror of the shade,
and yet the menace of the years finds, and shall find you unafraid.
You are the master of your fate. You are the captain of your soul.”
The letter was just a half page and at the bottom it was signed “William Wallace”, this letter concerned me for a few reasons.
One:, the letter was less than a page, all the letters that I ever received from Scotty in the past were never less that three pages.
Two:, the poem disturbed me as Scotty was never one to wear his heart on his sleeve or to be seen as a softy.
And three:, the letter was signed William Wallace, Scotty never signed his full name to any letter that he had ever sent me.
The letter concerned me so much that Jesse and I drove down the mountain to the nearest payphone which was in Meadow Creek some 45 km away. I dialled Scotty’s number only to hear endless rings, Jesse and I continued ringing the number all night till the early hours of the morning without success. We immediately started making some travel arrangement but sadly before the weather broke to where Jesse and I could fly out I learned that Scotty had past away at his home in Dawson the day before I had received his letter. He didn’t die from injuries received in our crash, nor did he crash his plane into a mountain in a blinding snow or go out in a blaze of glory as most of us believed would have happen. Scotty died quietly at home from simple pneumonia, not a fate fitting such an adventurous man who lived every minute of life on the edge.
Jesse and I made our way to Dawson for the funeral, and I was more than prepared to again fight for Jesse’s right to enter a public building but to my surprise it was just the opposite. Jesse was received well and was made very welcome by Scotty’s friends and family.
The funeral was standing room only and Jesse and I were given a place of honour up front with the family and next to my dear friend Fr. Patrick McKinley, whom I hadn’t seen since turning my back on civilization.
A Captain from Scotty’s S.A.S Regiment performed the eulogy; with swollen blood shot eyes he said: “We are here today to morn the loss of our friend William “Scotty” Wallace but we come also to celebrate his life, there are few words to express or describe a man of such great stature and the only words that come to me are those of Royal Canadian Air Force Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr. The Captain began to read the words that will forever echo in my mind;
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”
As the funeral came to a close we all filed past Scotty to say our final farewells, as I reached the casket Jesse stood up to the side, looked into the casket turn his head clockwise, whined slightly and nudged Scotty’s arm as if to say “wake up we’re all here”. I pulled Jesse down and continued out.
As we reached the door Jesse turned in protest and barked aloud, I knelt down, hugged his neck and whispered “Scotty’s gone, he won’t be coming with us”. Once outside we mustered in formation and waited for the pallbearers to carry Scotty out, Jesse was starting to fidget and whine (something very unusual and out of character).
A lone bagpiper began to play “O’Danny Boy” as the pallbearers started out of the chapel, the Scottish Flag draped the casket, and Jesse was getting to a point where he was uncontrollable. We watched as Scotty was placed in the hearse, and as the driver started off, so did Jesse, one hundred pounds of raw muscle pulling me across the drive.
Scotty had chosen cremation over burial and his ashes and would be scattered from a bush plane just north of Dawson later.
After the funeral was over Jesse, Patrick and I made our way to the local pub to tilt a pint to our friend and to recall Scotty’s life and some of the daring hair brain stunts Scotty had pulled over the years.
After an hour it was time for Patrick to catch his flight out as he had to connect with another fight in Vancouver. At the airport gate just before Patrick passed through he turned, walked back, looked me in the eye and asked “Mick, are you happy? Is this the life you wanted?” I replied “yes”, it was everything I could have ever of ask for and more. He put his arms around me, hugged me, and whispered I‘ll pray for you, I told him “No, I’ll pray for you my friend; it’s you that is leaving paradise not me”. Patrick smiled, and then gave Jesse and me a blessing and then he was gone. At the time I didn’t know it but that was to be the last time I would ever see or hear from Patrick again.
The next morning Jesse and I boarded a float plane for our flight back to Grizzly Creek, as we flew over the majestic mountains and canyons, the song “Wear the Sun in your Heart” by Thom Pace came to mind and for the duration of the flight home the words ran over and over in my mind, I suppose it was a subconscious tribute to my friend.
The pilot landed just down stream of Grizzly Creek a little past noon on Sunday. Jesse and I started the walk back to our cabin, it was bitter cold and I knew that the cabin would be just as cold. Once back at the cabin Jesse took up his place beside the wood burning stove while I started the fire and put on the kettle for tea. In no time the fire was roaring and the tea kettle was whistling, I fixed myself a cup and Jesse and I took a seat at the dining room window it gave us a clear view of the mountain I called “Grinch Mountain”. It made me sad to think that never again would my old friend fly over that mountain and tip his wings at us. Jesse and I sat looking out the window till the sun had gone down and we couldn’t see anything but the darkness.
Scotty’s philosophy was that one should live a good life and die a good death. He believed that life was for living and the greatest shame was to have been alive and to have never lived, Scotty lived life with every ounce of his being, I am proud to have had him as my friend, he will be missed.
Jesse gets a book published:
Jesse has a book due out soon entitled "You ask me if I cry" Copyright, ISBN and barcode have been filed and the edit is near complete, it will contain 350 pages plus 30 illustrations and 12 photos. We hope that everyone will look for it in book stores.
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