By Belle Darris


On April 7, 2001, the dog fancy lost it’s Fancey lady. Melissa Fancey fought a valiant fight but in the end, the Pulmonary Fibrosis that was wearing her down for over 2 years finally won the battle.

Long before I actually met Melissa I had heard about this strong willed, feisty lady who bred Shetland Sheepdogs. She had the reputation of someone who got things done, who was loyal to her friends and didn’t mind getting into a fracus with anyone for what she felt was right.

I first got to know Melissa and Grant personally at the Papillon Canada Booster in Saint John, New Brunswick in the summer of 1998. They had recently expanded their well known kennel of Shelties to include a little red and white butterfly from Jo Raymer’s Mantoga Kennels. I can’t explain how or why it happened but Melissa and I hit it off from day 1. We became fast friends….maybe the good Lord knew that Melissa didn’t have much time left and put us on the fast track of friendship. We became very close and remained so to the end. We talked, we argued, we learned from each other and we respected each other. We talked on the phone almost every day, sometimes to discuss a particular issue, other times just to touch base to see how the other was doing. We visited each other for weekends when we would pour over Internet websites, Papillon magazines and books for hours on end.

As was her nature, once Melissa had obtained a Papillon, she eagerly searched out whatever information she could find on the breed….studying standards, photographs, videos and pedigrees, asking questions and probing for answers. She threw herself into working hard for Papillon Canada, chairing the Policies and Procedures for Specialties and the ROMC Committees even as her health and strength was failing. In our last conversation, 2 days before she passed away, she wanted to know how the Proposals had been received by the Membership. She didn’t want to leave without all the loose ends tied up.

In the months prior to her passing, Melissa told me many times that she wasn’t afraid of dying. She just didn’t want to go so soon….she had much that she still wished to do. And she didn’t want to leave her family and friends behind either. Nor did she want to leave her beloved Papillons & Shelties; Grant was able to bring the Paps (Evita, Gucci and Cleo) to visit her in the hospital and I know those were enjoyable visits. She was grateful for the support she was receiving from family, friends and the dog show world in particular. True to her nature, she was more concerned about Grant and her family than she was for herself.

I still find it very hard to truly believe that Melissa’s gone. I keep expecting to hear her voice on the phone asking me if I got that morning’s Cryptogram or Crossword. I will always treasure the short time we had together. To Grant and the family I extend Papillon Canada’s sincerest sympathy at their great loss. She will be greatly missed.

Melissa and Grant with new Champion Ch. Sealoch Look at Me (Lindy)