From Stray to Saviour: Cash and Jodi’s Fated Journey

By Kirsten Millar

When Jodi Van Iderstine’s beloved service dog, Sunshine, received an unexpected cancer diagnosis and was given weeks to live, Jodi was faced with the task of finding a new service dog while also handling the sad news about her Sunshine. Jodi trains her own service dogs, so she began looking for a new pup to adopt and to give a meaningful, loving life to. She prayed that God would lead her to the right dog.

Jodi began looking at her local shelters in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and had not yet found her new dog when she had to make a trip to Nova Scotia to pick up her son in Dartmouth and bring him home to PEI. “On the way back, Google maps told us there was a construction delay and advised us to take a detour, which we did,” says Jodi. “We just happened to cruise by a building I’ve never seen before – the Colchester SPCA.”

Jodi went into the shelter and told staff what she was looking for. The staff brought out a sweet black and white dog. That is the moment that Jodi met her future service dog, Cash, who had been found as a stray roaming around in Truro.

Jodi knew Cash was special when she met him. “From the minute he looked at me, he did something that a trained service dog does; he locked eyes with me and did not break eye contact. And he walked over to me and leaned against my leg and put his foot on mine, something a trained service dog does. Something that I had taught Sunshine,” says Jodi.

The Colchester SPCA staff worked to get Jodi approved quickly, and when she brought her son back to Dartmouth, she was able to bring Cash home with her in August 2022.

“Cash’s life story is a bit of a mystery,” says Jodi. “He’s originally from Texas where he was surrendered. Nobody knows how he got from Texas to roaming the streets of Truro. When I first got him, he wasn’t trained in any way and he was nervous of noise. He had absolutely no focus.”

But Cash’s life has completely changed since being adopted by Jodi. Thanks to Cash and Jodi’s hard work, he is now her service dog, trained to help with medical and mobility. “It took six or seven months for him to get his head squared away. He’s not noise nervous anymore. He has learned that rules stay the same and it’s something he can count on,” says Jodi.

Cash has been given a life with purpose and he’s showered in love and care. He gets fed a healthy diet, sees the vet for check-ups often, and lives with Jodi and her other animals on a large property. He gets to travel everywhere with Jodi as her service animal, from doctor’s appointments, all the way to Ohio.

As much as Jodi has helped Cash, he helps her every day in return. Cash is trained to do many things, like help Jodi get up out of bed and chairs and help support her balance.

“Cash knows how to operate the buttons on cross walks and elevators and push the power buttons to exit or enter a building. He’s been on busses and he’s been to a Christmas Eve service and knows how to tuck under the seat,” says Jodi. “He loves opening doors. Especially those push bar ones. He smiles when he gets to push on those, and when he opens the door he goes out and uses his body to hold it open for me. The whole time he’s just so happy.”

When in public, Cash scans rooms and doorways, watches Jodi’s back, alerts her when someone is approaching and blocks them when needed. He is also trained to apply deep pressure therapy. Cash even protected Jodi when an intruder entered her home. He put himself in between the intruder and his owner and did not let them approach her.

“I’ve been through a lot and I have a hard time trusting people. When I’m out in public I’m struggling with that. Where Cash helps me is that I know he has my back. I know that he’ll step in and give me the space I need to reset myself. He’s going to make sure that I’m okay,” says Jodi. “He saves me everyday.”

It truly seems like fate brought Jodi and Cash together. “Cash has been a God send. I honestly believe that God led me to this dog, and him to me. He will spend the rest of his life with me and I am so grateful for him,” says Jodi.

And while Jodi needs Cash, she also just downright loves him. “He’s a 70-pound sookie that wants his own way,” she laughs. “He’s a lover and definitely not a fighter. He’s incredibly intelligent, he’s profoundly intuitive and he’s extremely patient. He has a sense of humour and he can be a total drama queen.”

Jodi encourages others to see the potential in dogs that need some love and training. “There are so many dogs in shelters that could be service animals. They don’t have to be perfect. Here’s my message: you can be broken, and still be awesome,” says Jodi.

If you’re considering adoption, click here to learn more and see some of the cuties available in our shelters.

Kirsten Millar

Kirsten is an animal lover and proud “dog aunt” who recently lost her two cats that she adopted from the SPCA in 2007. She volunteers at the SPCA to honour their memory and help other animals like them.