Gonzo is the centrefold of this year’s Township firefighters fundraising calendar. This dog was surrendered to LAPS a few years back, and after overcoming some serious health issues, he’s now in a loving home with some grateful parents.(Panorama Media Group/Special to the Langley Advance)

‘Scrap-metal sweetie’ makes Langley firemen calendar centrefold

Most pictures in 2019 calendar feature members with their own pets

Forty-two pieces of metal had to be extracted from Gonzo’s stomach – everything from screws and nails to saw blades and plastic.

This is a nine-year-old pitbull-cross surrendered by his previous owners after four different visits to the Langley Animal Protection Society’s Patti Dale Animal Shelter in Aldergrove.

Gonzo had fleas and huge bald patches all over his body. He was so itchy that every time someone touched him he’d almost fall over trying to get more scratches, recalled LAPS executive director Jayne Nelson.

“He’s such a sweet, sweet dog. But he was in such distress.”

It turned out that Gonzo was suffering from a “horrible skin infection for a long time,” she explained.

He would ultimately be treated with “heavy duty antibiotics and medicated baths to treat it.” But it was while Nelson’s team was waiting for his skin condition to clear up, that he began “terrifying staff by having fainting spells.”

X-rays lead to the shocking discovery that dozens and dozens of foreign objects were embedded in his stomach.

“There was so much scrap metal in there, it was crazy,” Nelson said.

Gonzo underwent emergency laparoscopic surgery, and after a few weeks in recovery, he was declared “metal-free” and fit for adoption.

Waiting in the wings were Aaron and Rachele Dunne, who learned of Gonzo on the LAPS Facebook page, fell in love with him, and eventually adopted him – despite all his medical issues, Nelson noted.

Fast forward four years. Gonzo is basking in his loving, forever home and his parents wanted to spotlight the amazing work that LAPS did for Gonzo – and does for so many other animals each year.

So at last year’s Furry Tail Endings fundraising gala, the couple purchased a live auction item that gave them a platform to share Gonzo’s story and express their thanks to LAPS.

This big boy is now the “centrefold” in a 2019 calendar that was just recently released in Langley. Not your typical centrefold, that’s for sure, Nelson said.

Typically, this fundraising calendar features Township firefighters with their own pets (dogs or cats), or alternately some of the animals that have come up for adoption at LAPS.

But the Township of Langley Firefighters Charitable Society (TLFCS) decided to augment their own pictures. They opted to auction off a pet profile in the calendar during a LAPS gala, to raise additional money for the cause, explained calendar founder and organizers Steve McLay.

Hence how Gonzo landed his spot in the centrefold.

This is the third year in a row that the TLFCS has produced the annual calendar that puts a fun and special twist on the traditional firefighter calendars.

Given the subject matter, it’s no surprise that proceeds from the calendar are divided between LAPS and the firefighters’ charitable society, said McLay.

From the sale of last year’s calendars, the TLFCS raised $9,000, $6,550 of which was presented to LAPS earlier this month at the shelter’s 11th annual Furry Tail Endings gala.

“What’s really amazing is that they’re going to do it again,” Nelson said at the gala, overjoyed by the partnership that has developed between LAPS and the firefighters.

The calendars are $10 each and available at Shopper’s Drug Mart stores throughout Langley, with a little bit of an in-house rivalry going on between the different Shopper’s to see which store can sell the most, McLay said.

The firefighter and pet calendars will be available through until the new year, if they last that long.

“They’re starting to go pretty quick,” McLay said, somewhat gleefully. “I’m actually hoping we’re going to sell out.”

The calendars are selling faster than they have before, in part, he suspects due to people being more aware they exist and understanding it helps local charities.

With more than a third sold before the Christmas season even started, he suggested: “For those picking up a few Christmas presents, these calendars make a great stocking stuffer.”

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Gonzo is the centrefold of this year’s Township firefighters fundraising calendar. This dog was surrendered to LAPS a few years back, and after overcoming some serious health issues, he’s now in a loving home with some grateful parents.(Panorama Media Group/Special to the Langley Advance)

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