An animal rescue volunteer discovers a message of love and encouragement concealed in an unlikely container.
Taipei, Taiwan, and Vancouver, Canada, April 1, 2013
Animal rescue volunteers in Canada were reminded of the powerful bond between humans and animals when they took in Taiwanese dog "Mei," in recent days.
After traveling thousands of miles through Animal Recue Team Taiwan's (ARTT) cross-ocean adoption program, the black mixed-breed female was found to carry something unusual around her neck: tightly tucked inside an amulet on a silk necklace was a handwritten letter in Chinese with a photo of a young woman and Mei.
The letter reads:
My baby sister Mei,
Tomorrow will be the day for you to fly to the country of happiness. It seems there is nothing else I can do except wish you well. Although I know that you cannot understand what I'm writing, I hope you can feel my love for you through this letter. You have to be good, be independent, and no longer be scared. There won't be anyone yelling at you anymore. I don't know if the garbage trucks play the song "For Elise" in Vancouver, but don't forget to sing along if they do! I will never forget the time that I spent with you. I hope you won't either. Be happy and joyful. And I hope we can meet again some day.
Intrigued about the identity of the young woman in the photo and of the cleverly hidden "secret letter," they asked for ARTT to help get in touch with her.
After ARTT volunteers searched high and low, they were finally able to track down the mystery woman in the photo, 28-year-old Alice Yang, a resident of Taoyuan in northern Taiwan.
When ARTT volunteer Antony Ni contacted Alice, she was surprised to hear that her "secret letter" had been discovered. "I feel a little embarrassed!" she said smilingly. "I never thought it would ever be found!"
"I couldn't help but feel sad at our impending separation so I decided to write the letter to wish her well," said Alice about the letter. "I stuffed it neatly inside an amulet that I had blessed at a temple the day before her flight and tied it around her neck right before we said goodbye at the airport."
"I rescued Mei from the streets more than three years ago on a very rainy day," she recalled. "Because I myself am not able to adopt her, I searched everywhere for a suitable home to place her in. During the three years that I looked after her, we tried several private animal shelters, animal hospitals and foster homes, but Mei wasn't able to assimilate into any of them."
"She even broke her right ear after being attacked by other dogs at one of the local shelters," continued Alice. "That's when I asked ARTT for help in finding her a good home, and I knew for sure that her days would be much better in Canada."
Thanks to the efforts of ARTT volunteers, Mei, now four years old, flew on March 20 to Vancouver, Canada, where volunteers from the local animal protection group were ready to receive her and are now searching for a new home for her.
Upon hearing about the story behind the letter, Canadian rescue group posted it on their Facebook page to share this amazing story of love between humans and dogs.
"We have taken Mei into our hearts as a sacred trust... She is so loved here and in Taiwan. We want her 'Big Sister' to know that she will be so cherished and cared for," wrote Cherry Latour, from the dog rescue society, in an email dated March 28.
"She arrived at Vancouver International Airport, and Mei was put into our care and into my Volkswagen in her travel crate... and taken to my home," Cherry said.
But the transition was not an easy one for Mei. "She was very afraid, and stayed close to Adina, another Taiwanese dog that made the long journey with her. I would sit on the floor next to Mei, on the stairs, wherever she was, and reach out to her."
"Eventually she allowed me to approach her and touch her head," recounted Cherry. "It was then that we were able to take the silk necklaces from her neck and open their treasured words."
"What we discovered was a necklace with two coins, a necklace with a miniature origami, and a necklace with the treasured 'letter to Mei.' When we read it, we wept... at the courage and the love that it takes to say goodbye," said Cherry.
"We really hope, as Big Sister wrote, that she will one day be with Mei again. And we want Big Sister to know that we have a piano in our home, and as a classical pianist I play 'For Elise,' and I also whistle it to Mei. Thank you Big Sister for loving her so much to send her across the world to us!"
Since 2004, ARTT has successfully sent over 2,170 homeless animals like Mei to warm new homes in the United States and Canada through its cross-ocean adoption program. But carrying out our cross-ocean adoption program is not without its challenges. The task of transporting the animals from our veterinary clinic in Taiwan to a new home across an ocean is an arduous one that rests solely on our volunteers, who diligently and lovingly accompany the animals throughout their long journey by road, rail, and air.
We ask that if you are planning to travel to the United States or Canada in the near future or are interested in adopting one of our rescued animals, please send an email to our cross-ocean adoption program section. If you wish to learn more about how to get involved, please visit www.saveDOGS.org/english. Together, we can help more homeless animals in Taiwan start a new life on the other side of the world!