An Amazing Dog’s Legacy of Love: Bodj’s Story

By Judy Layne

It’s said that pets come into our lives to teach us about love. The steadfast unconditional undying kind of love. We open our homes and hearts to them, and they become cherished members of our families. For a brief time on this earth, we have a loyal friend who never doubts or judges us….. a faithful soul who never wants to leave us.

But leave us they must. And when they do, it’s devastating. And while the joy they brought has vanished, the love they gave us never dies; it becomes a part of us forever. And what better way to honour the life and memory of our treasured pet than by sharing that love with others.

This is the story of Bodj, a beautiful German Shepherd. For 12 years, Bodj shared her love, enthusiasm, and zest for living with her family. She was a true social butterfly, rejoicing in being with other dogs and in meeting new people. When Bodj’s dad Sir Paul was diagnosed with ALS, she went above and beyond to comfort him. He shared some of his favorite memories of this amazing girl with me.

“Bodj was my last ‘Canine Companion.’ She came to me at five months of age, to be greeted by Cheeba – my official Canine Companion at the time. Sadly, Cheeba was dying from cancer. They bonded instantly, as if Cheeba said… “I only have a short time left, and this what you need to know.” Everything from how to anticipate a problem that could hurt my human to how to find a hidden toy under two feet of snow. Within 16 days, Cheeba passed away, knowing she had done the best she could do. Bodj never failed in that trust.

Bodj saved my life on four documented occasions. I am a disabled military veteran and on occasion, I stop breathing. Once, Bodj found me on the floor and started jumping on my chest and continued until my Medical Attendant (MA) returned. She had not been trained to do this but had witnessed my MA perform this procedure! On other occasions, at night for example, she anticipated problems, woke my wife for medical intervention, intervened directly by nudging me to take medication or fetched my MA either by barking or by grabbing hold of their pant leg and tugging them to follow her!

Bodj also completed the Canadian Kennel Club ‘Good Neighbour Program’ with the highest performance level seen by judges in the program! She received no pre-training for this program, we just registered her and Bodj did the rest. After the judging, Bodj appeared to be smiling as if to say “Didn’t I do good?!”

Bodj brought much joy and laughter to our lives. Her favorite game was two-fold. She would find a piece of rope (the thicker the better) and wait for you to tie it into knots (the more knots the better), then she would find an “approved” (by her) area of floor and untie each knot. On completion, she would go outdoors and hide the rope for us to find. Failure to go outside to look for the rope meant “punishment” for her humans, because playtime involved ALL people present. The punishment was Bodj sitting next to her humans and barking, moaning or making other appropriate dog noises until the humans went and found the rope!”

Bodj’s mom Doreen shared her deep love for Bodj below.

“Bodj crept into our hearts and souls in a way no other dog had done. As the years progressed, we realized how important and necessary she was to us. A friend once told me “Dogs make people better people.” Bodj was proof of this … not only with us but with acquaintances and friends. We watched with concern as she aged and became infirm. Still, her zest for life continued even as her world shrunk to just around our property. If something was happening, she had to be there to supervise.

Inevitably, we reached the point of saying good-bye…… a heartache deeper than any we had previously felt (and we have had many fine dogs in our lives). We could not let Bodj’s life go unacknowledged. Her loyalty, love and complete commitment to us were stellar. It needed to be recognized.

We looked for a meaningful way to honor Bodj, her caring spirit and intelligence, yet be of practical use. What better way than to help those who choose to make animal care their life’s work? What better vehicle to help reach this goal than the SPCA who so tirelessly work with unwanted and abused animals? Bodj would approve.”

Inspired by Bodj’s love and loyalty, the family started a scholarship in her memory. Each year, a dedicated student pursuing higher education centered around animal care will be awarded $500 towards their education. Launched in 2021, Kaitlin Coles was the first recipient. The 2002 scholarship application window opened in March and the deadline to apply is June 30, 2022.

To find out more about the Bodj von Grunfeld® Scholarship or to apply for this amazing opportunity, click here. If your pet left paw prints on your heart and you would like to explore the establishment of a scholarship in their memory or leaving a gift in your will to honour them, please reach out to the Nova Scotia SPCA for help.



Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.