When visitors stop by the home of 7-year-old Mary and her family in Port Coquitlam, BC, they quickly notice there’s a new member of the family there: a fuzzy ball of fur and joy, which turns out to be a playful Yorkie named Lucy. Not even a year old, Lucy arrived at the home in November 2021 as a gift from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada – a gesture of hope and happiness for a child in need of both.
With Lucy looking on from the background, Mary and her mother Joanne recall the events that brought them all together. In December 2019, not long after Mary started kindergarten, she had a fever and fatigue, and Joanne noticed a spot on her chest. A visit to the doctor then led to a single word – leukemia – that changed their lives.
Mary arrived at the children’s hospital on a Tuesday and by Friday she was starting chemotherapy, a process that would last 26 months. “It’s sad how quickly illnesses make them grow up,” Joanne recalls. “But Mary was brave, and she cooperated a lot.”
Recommendations from their medical team eventually got Joanne in touch with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in BC, and they asked Mary what her top three wishes were. “She didn’t even get past the first wish,” Joanne laughs. “It was just, ‘I want a puppy.’ ”
A search of breeders and listings across the nation led to a woman in Alberta who raised Yorkshire terriers, and who immediately offered a young puppy to the family after hearing about the situation. With that information in hand, Make-A-Wish took over the arrangements and soon, Lucy was on a plane and ready for a big adventure to the coast.
Her arrival is already a favourite memory for the family. Weighing just two pounds, Lucy “was this adorable little furball,” ready to spring out of the kennel and eager to get to work licking faces and cuddling in to stay warm. With Christmas approaching and COVID restrictions still in place, Lucy helped get everyone into the holiday spirit – especially Mary, who giggles when asked what she and her new puppy do for fun. “Mischief,” she says, with a grin that only a 7-year-old can properly pull off. “Bad mischief.”
While Lucy provides plenty of love and learning opportunities for Mary and her family, the real benefit is in the hope and excitement that getting a wish provides. “They bring so much joy to these kids,” Joanne says. “There’s nothing really positive about the treatment…for 26 months, Mary’s been going through this, and you try to make the best of the bad things, but it’s hard.” With the promise of a puppy, though, “there was something to look forward to when there’s nothing to look forward to.”
She pauses, looking down at her daughter and Lucy, already so inseparable. With Mary now well on the road to recovery, it’s easy to see how this blooming friendship will continue to play a big role in the years ahead.
Joanne sums it up nicely:
For Laura, the Director of Development at Make-A-Wish Canada in BC, the story is familiar – but it’s one that she never tires of hearing. “When those wishes are granted, it makes a difference to the whole community. It brings them together,” Laura says. “The focus is fully on kids, impacting kids, creating a trickle effect to support the families and communities and networks they’re a part of. When you grant a wish, it’s all of that.”