Some 80 people, almost all of them with their pooches, gathered in Sidney’s Beacon Park to remember ‘dog whisperer’ Terry Westcott, who died Feb. 11.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said Anne Westcott, Terry’s wife of 39 years. “He would have loved it. He would have been touched beyond belief. This is the best send-off ever.”
A professional driver, the 80-year-old Westcott died of pneumonia, according to his wife, who added that he had a number of other medical issues. It was a combination of things, she said.
Born in Alberta, Westcott and his wife have been living in Sidney for about 14 years. Unable to have a pet of his own in his apartment, Westcott started to develop a relationship with local dogs. With the help of his personal mobility device, Westcott would go down to Sidney’s Beacon Park, where he would sit on a bench near the park’s bandshell every morning.
As pedestrians with their dogs passed him on the Sidney Waterfront Walkway, he would strike up conversations with them, earning the trust of both humans and animals.
Brenda Grevers knew Westcott thanks to her walks with her dog, Zoe, who is almost a year old. In a way, Westcott helped to raise Zoe, she said.
“He was the only one who could completely relax her,” said Grevers. “She would just come to Terry, sit next to him and be completely relaxed.”
Westcott also had an engaging, friendly touch with humans. “He was an incredible ambassador,” said Heather Priest, who helped to organize Wednesday’s memorial, along with Tracey Berube and help from others.
“It was a bit of communal effort,” said Berube of the memorial. “We would come here and meet up with Terry. He would give the dogs treats, and then we would go for a walk together. Terry would start his day, and once we had come through here, he would trundle down to Tulista Park, where he had another gang of dogs for which he had treats.”
Priest described Westcott as a very quiet man, who nonetheless touched everybody in becoming a fixture in Sidney’s signature park, no matter the time of the year, no matter the weather. In fact, Priest was at this familiar spot, giving out treats and receiving licks — or “kisses” as he called them – in exchange.
“I feel like now that he is gone, all the sculptures on the benches are going to go too, because he was one of them,” said Priest with a laugh.
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