The Thing About Threes

By Taylor Huestis

They say bad things happen in threes. But sometimes you’re lucky enough to have something that helps you get through them. For me, that thing had four legs and a wet nose.

You can imagine working in this environment it can be tempting to adopt every animal. Over the past six years with the Nova Scotia SPCA, I’ve witnessed thousands of inspiring pet transformations.

Deep down I always knew the most perfect match for that pet was out there. And my (or realistically my husband’s) willpower was strong.

Well, that all went out the window when I met Hazel.

It was a regular Tuesday morning. I had walked into the shelter to film a video of a cat to highlight on Jack 92.9’s Wet Nose Wednesday when I saw Hazel’s puppy dog eyes.

I began asking questions and talking faster than any East Coaster – ever.

The shelter staff explained that Hazel, 14-years-young, was the newest member of the Palliative Care program. She found herself in the SPCA’s care when her owner sadly passed away. And I found myself frantically calling my husband.

Just like that, Hazel came home with us.

With Hazel’s age and health conditions, we committed to giving her adventures and love in her sunset years. Little did we know Hazel would become our rock through three big life challenges.

Only weeks after adopting Hazel, wildfires hit our community.

While my colleagues at the SPCA jumped into action to help displaced families, we fled our home – unsure if we would ever see it again.

My husband, a Firefighter, went to work while I, like many others, anxiously listened for updates. I didn’t know how to get out of bed. That is, until I felt a nudge from Hazel. She did some of her best work giving unconditional love that week.

A few months later, she was called into action for the second time.

I ended up suffering from a freak fainting spell home alone. Because of this, I ended up with a concussion and a tear to my rotator cuff.

While I recovered, Hazel became my shadow. She stuck by my side no matter what I was doing.

Just as I was starting to feel back to myself again, we were hit with the third and most devastating blow – losing my gramps.

Hazel, the pup who refused to sleep on beds of any kind, crawled into bed with us every morning. She would lay her head on my chest as I cried and lick away tears. I’m convinced Hazel knew what we were going through. Hazel had experienced before what it was like to suddenly lose a loved one.

After these three things happened, I was out for a walk with Hazel and was convinced that 2023 was awful and unlucky. But this is when she taught me her best lesson to date.

It was pouring rain but Hazel was experiencing pure joy. I chuckled to myself about how pets live permanently in the present. They are only thinking about today and right now. They are grateful and can find the good in everything.

She was simply happy because she was with me.

While we continued our walk, I shifted my outlook. Maybe this year we were actually extremely lucky.

  1. With the wildfires, our garage went up in smoke and the fire came within feet of our home… but somehow, our home and family members were all spared.
  2. With my accident, I needed 8 weeks of physio… but didn’t require surgery.
  3. With my gramps, he left our world… but we were able to be with him in his final moments to surround him with love.

So, as this year comes to a close, I’m choosing to have a Hazel mindset where I look for the pawsitive things in life.

For the pets here at the SPCA, you are their silver lining. Whether you are donating, volunteering, advocating, adopting, thrifting, studying, or supporting, we are thankful you are a part of our SPCA family.

Our wish this year is that you have a magical holiday season. If you have pets, make sure you give them a cuddle from our team. We’ll make sure to give our shelter pets extra lovin’ from you.

And for Hazel? Well, after her hard work giving us hope this year, her photo is at the very top of our Christmas tree. It was only fitting. Hazel is both an angel and a star.

Taylor Huestis

Taylor is the Communications & Development Officer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-parent to two cats named Bonnie and Boy (yep - that is his real name) and a palliative pup named Hazel. Connect with Taylor at or 902-222-0378 today.