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The Angel of Camp Canine

Tess has been a part of the Camp Canine family for nearly two years. In those two years, we’ve fallen in love (as we do with all of our campers) with the sweet-yet-curmudgeonly English Springer Spaniel. Tess is deaf, insistent upon receiving attention, and a lover of food and Central Park.  And she was also the fur-daughter to one of the finest people we have ever known.

Tess’ first mom was Mary, a cancer-survivor, and a beacon of enthusiasm and generosity. On every holiday, Mary sent treats for the staff – cookies, chocolates, pies; you name it – with handwritten poems marking the occasion ‘signed’ by Tess. In addition, she frequently donated to the rescue organizations Camp Canine partners with.

It wasn’t just Mary’s generosity that won our hearts – her hope and determination inspired all of us. When Mary received the bad news – her cancer had returned – we sought to be the supportive family that she and Tess deserved. As Mary became more ill, Tess spent more time with us at Camp, and she truly became a part of our family. The cancer grew rapidly, and Mary’s time on this Earth was cut far too short. After a strong-fought battle, Mary passed away; but not before asking if we would take Tess in as a permanent member of our family. There was never a question. We all love Tess as if she were our own, and when we look at her, she is a shining reminder of her wonderful human mom. We take a bit of Mary with us each day, and try to honor her memory through kindness.

“She was a kind and giving person. Even in the face of adversity, even facing death, she kept her chin up and spread her joy and love to Tess and to all of us at Camp Canine. She and Tess became family to us. It was only natural for Tess to stay with us after Mary passed away. In Mary’s honor and continuing Mary’s love for Tess, we treat Tess like the beautiful, special family member she is.”
– Adrianne, Reservations Specialist

“Tess’s human mom, Mary, was the closest thing to an angel that we’ve ever met. She greeted each day, each person and each dog she encountered with a smile and a kind word. She looked adversity in the face and wished it a good day. Mary loved her beautiful companion Tess so very much and wanted only the best for her. We consider ourselves quite honored that Mary felt that Camp Canine was part of that “best for her” treatment.”
– Betsy, General Manager

Our supervisor, Hellen, was near tears when she told me what Tess means to her:

“She is my baby, my princess. She gets to do whatever she wants. When she loves you, she gives you her whole heart. We share my meals sometimes,” she laughed, “maybe we shouldn’t, but I can’t help but share with her! Every day that she was at work with me while Mary was sick, we grew closer. Knowing that she had lost the person who cared most for her, I couldn’t help but feel the need to show her the love she deserves. She would be there for me when the pressure was on at work. She would comfort me and kiss me. When she sees me, she goes crazy; I look forward to coming to work because I know my baby is there. This summer, I have plans to take her to the beach.”   

Tess is our Camp mascot, a permanent fixture, friend and furchild to all of us here at camp. We want nothing more than to give Tess the love she deserves, and to carry on Mary’s legacy of hope, generosity, and fierce love for her canine daughter.

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