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​Winky Rides: Celebrating his 10th birthday back in Fort McMurray

Guest post by Anna-Marie Robertson, Canadian Red Cross 
Photos by Bob Wallace, Canadian Red Cross

When the fire began to threaten Fort McMurray at the beginning of May, Allan MacDonald said he was sent home early from work, with just enough time to grab the necessities: his furry friend Winky, an extra pair of clothes, and a bag of dog food. 
Winky and his human, Allan, have been together for ten years and have travelled more than 80,000 kilometres on MacDonald’s Harley. Sporting matching goggles, their adventures have taken them all over North America, including Las Vegas twice. They evacuated together to Acheson, where Northern Crane Services covered their first week at a hotel. The two stayed in Acheson, keeping each other company, until it was safe to return to their home. They have been eagerly awaiting their turn in the phased re-entry. 

Upon returning home on June 4, a month since they were there last, Allan and Winky went to one of five information centres to check in with the Red Cross and to pick up their clean-up kit. So far, more than 31,016 people have visited information centres across the Fort McMurray region, where returning residents can receive services, support and information from Alberta Health Services, Alberta Works, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo as well as various other service providers. The Canadian Red Cross has already distributed more than 22,083 clean-up kits.
When we met the pair at the Westwood High School YMCA Information Centre, they were headed back home with a cleaning kit strapped to the back of their orange Harley to meet with their insurance adjuster. The house has a bit of a smoky smell (hence the kit), but Allan says they’re just happy to be home. 

Fort McMurray residents flocked to Winky and Allan to say hello and welcome them home. Winky is a well-known face around town and a sign of normalcy as the city prepares to rebuild together. 
Together, the two best friends have raised more than $7,750 for the Fort McMurray SPCA selling Winky Wear.  They donate $5 from each purchase to help furry friends affected by this fire. Additionally, Winky is giving out free t-shirts to first responders and Red Cross personnel to say “thanks and paws up.”
Winky will celebrate his 10th birthday on June 6 at home in Fort McMurray. 

Read more recovery stories from the Alberta Fires
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