What’s in a name? Perhaps a great deal. This is the story of a sweet dog named Heaven whose loving, kind forgiving nature matches her name and inspires others to turn compassion into action.
On June 21, 2012 Heaven and her ‘sister’ Sweet Pea were rescued by SPCA Enforcement Officers and brought to safety at the Dartmouth shelter. They were both severely underweight, covered in fleas and had major dental problems. After receiving needed medical care, staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to build the dogs’ confidence and trust of people. They were a bonded pair and needed to be adopted together.
On August 30th Judy Crump and her partner Catherine Lambert visited the shelter. Judy shares “We were originally drawn to Sweet Pea, a beagle mix, as our beloved beagle Millie had recently passed away. But it didn’t take long to become smitten with Heaven too. A beautiful bulldog/boxer mix, her sweet personality and affectionate gentle nature drew us in. So we left the shelter with two dogs instead of one!”
“Sweet Pea had a loving home for 6 years before she crossed the Rainbow Bridge,” says Judy. “Heaven definitely missed her sister but adapted well. She claimed a blue leather chair which she still loves to sleep in, stand on to look out the window, and which we believe comforted her when she was alone. It now bears multiple layers of duct tape that cover the holes made from Heaven scratching when she was alone while I was at work. Mercifully, this stopped with my retirement!” Judy chuckles.
“Heaven enjoys going for our daily 1 ½ hour morning walk, greeting every dog she meets with a huge tail wag,” relates Judy. “She greets visitors at home with the same energy and enthusiasm and will immediately go to her toy basket for a headless limbless bear to toss in the air! She has always loved little dogs and puppies. They seem to instinctively sense her gentleness and feel safe with her.”
“Heaven has gotten to know many people in the neighborhood,” says Judy. “Some people were afraid of her size at first but quickly learned she is the sweetest dog ever. Heaven has been an excellent SPCA ambassador, inspiring people to adopt deserving dogs.”
Judy continues “Heaven brought great comfort to my partner who was declining from Alzheimer’s. She has also been a great (though unofficial) therapy dog. She visited the nursing home with me many times to see my partner, happily greeting the residents, waiting patiently for their pats and cleaning up all the crumbs on the floor! She was always rewarded with a trip to the off-leash park on the way home.”
“Heaven definitely inspired me to turn compassion into action” exclaims Judy. “In addition to becoming a regular donor to the NS SPCA, the two of us embarked on a daily initiative. We go for a walk and pick up trash and refundable bottles/cans along the way. It helps to keep our neighborhood in the north end of Halifax clean and I donate all proceeds from the refundable items to the SPCA. Heaven patiently zig-zags on our walks and waits for me to pick up smaller items. It gives me great satisfaction to know I’m helping keep our city clean and helping homeless animals at the same time.”
Judy shares “Heaven has made such a difference in my life. She has taught me patience, the value of slowing down and savoring the little things. She has taught me that blue leather chairs are to be enjoyed; that pristine objects are less important than scratches on the hardwood floors that tell a story of a dog who found comfort, who belongs and who is much-loved in her home. Getting her was the best decision ever.”
“Heaven is 14 1/2 years old now, has arthritis, a heart murmur, and is on supportive care for her liver” says Judy. “She is slowing down but still prances and plays like a puppy, though for shorter periods. I know the day will come when she goes to join Sweet Pea at the Rainbow Bridge and I will miss her terribly. But she has left a legacy of goodness in her wake.”
“I am so grateful for the SPCA’s tireless work in providing safety and comfort to animals across the province. I hope to be able to give back more in the future,” Judy states. And her advice to people about turning their compassion into action? “If you’re thinking about getting a pet, please adopt a deserving animal. There are many animals who need our support and many ways to help. You will meet others who love animals and feel the same way you do. You will also be rewarded with lessons learned and be inspired to do things you hadn’t imagined.”