Blake and Marla Handley didn’t know whether to be grateful or irritated when they found their car window broken open to relieve the heat stress for their “dog,” lying unresponsive in the back seat.
They could be grateful because as honoured supporters of the SPCA, the Handleys have to appreciate the motive.
But they could be irritated because the rescued dog is a stuffed toy and they are looking at a $200 bill to fix the window.
“It was such a sweet gesture but it was done for the wrong reason,” Blake said.
It happened on Wednesday when the couple attended a special luncheon at the Ocean Point Resort laid on by the SPCA in honour of long-time donors. Marla has supported the animal-protection organization for decades.
Blake was feeling pleased with himself that day because he had found a spot to park on the street.
But after lunch as they returned to their 2000 Honda Civic, the Handleys were approached by a couple who asked if they had seen their car and its broken window.
The couple then confessed.
The Handleys never learned their names, but the story they told had them noticing the car in the hot sun with the dog in the rear seat.
They knocked on the windows trying to rouse it. They jostled the vehicle to set off the car alarm. Finally, they telephoned police, who told them to go ahead and break a window.
“Poor fellow even cut his hand when he did it,” Blake said.
The first thought occurring to the Handleys was that “Rory,” the name they gave the toy, had been stolen.
The toy was picked up at Value Village about 20 years ago after the death of the living Rory, their beloved family pet, a bearded collie that died at age 14.
The couple always travel with the toy Rory, across Canada and the U.S. He is a talisman for a family that really loves bearded collies.
The Handleys now have two live ones, MacPherson and his litter sister Precious.
But unlike the toy Rory the real dogs ride only in the couple’s pickup under a canopy, never in the car.
The couple have vivid memories of the time the living Rory found a dead porpoise on the beach at Dallas Road and took full opportunity to roll in the carcass. On the drive home, Rory acted pleased with himself, but Blake said the smell forced their heads out the windows.
As for the toy Rory, Blake said the couple who broke the window are not the first to be fooled. Crossing the border has often prompted government agents to ask after the breed.
“I always go: ‘It’s the kind with the price tag in his ear,’ ” Blake said.
He will not dispute the genuine concern that prompted the couple to break his car’s window.
“They could have just walked away, but it’s to their credit they stayed behind. They were so sweet about it and we are concerned about animals, too, so it was actually kind of nice.”