A Special Dog Helps Us Redefine Success

By Judy Layne

Sometimes, we are helped along life’s path by those we have never met, but who have inspired us nonetheless. They teach us that success isn’t about money or material things, but rather, about making a positive impact on the world, about creating a greater good. They also teach us that success isn’t a destination, but rather, a journey. And if you love what you’re doing on that journey, you are already successful. This is the story of a special dog, her family and the veterinary student they inspired.

For 12 years, Bodj – a beautiful German Shepherd – shared her unconditional love and loyalty with her family. When Bodj’s dad Sir Paul was diagnosed with ALS, she went above and beyond to comfort him. Bodj actually saved her dad’s life on four documented occasions! Bodj loved the important role she played as a service dog, and her commitment and talent made her successful in her own right.

When Bodj passed away, the family was devastated. They looked for a meaningful way to honor her caring spirit and intelligence yet be of practical use. Through the SPCA, they created the Bodj von Grunfeld® scholarship to help those pursuing higher education in the field of animal welfare. Each year, a deserving student is awarded $500 towards their education.

After receiving many amazing applications, Katherine Ball was selected as the 2023 recipient of Bodj’s scholarship. Katherine is pursuing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC), UPEI.

Katherine has always loved animals. She shares “I grew up in a household with several pets which I believe turned our house into a home. They brought much love and joy into my life. After high school, I began volunteering at several animal hospitals where I got to experience caring for animals in a more medical sense. It was then that I learned how much I enjoy veterinary medicine and wanted to gain the skills and knowledge to keep animals healthy and to help them when they are ill.”

Katherine’s path to veterinary school wasn’t necessarily straight; however, it was the opportunity she always dreamt of. She relates “I was torn between my two passions, science and psychology, and with the competitiveness of the AVC program, I kept my options open and majored in both subjects. I ultimately wanted to be accepted into AVC, but knew I also needed a ‘Plan B’ to fall back on, preparing myself for the windiest path possible. I filled out applications for AVC and nursing, volunteered again in animal hospitals and the mental health field, and researched Psychology Masters programs. It wasn’t until my first year in the AVC program that I discovered my integration of science and psychology provides me with a unique perspective on blending compassion and my understanding of animal behavior with medical care. I plan to build on this integration throughout my education and apply it to my practice in the future, as it will benefit my interactions with patients, clients, producers, and farmers”.

“I am honored and grateful to Bodj’s family for choosing me as the recipient of an award that means so much to them,” says Katherine. “Bodj’s story touched my heart and made me feel fortunate to be in the veterinary program. I don’t know what could be cooler than working with species that can’t speak and don’t have opposable thumbs, but somehow can attempt to perform CPR on their human parent just as Bodj did!”

“Bodj’s scholarship also came at the most amazing time,” exclaims Katherine. “I was getting ready for second year to begin and was feeling stressed due to its notoriously demanding reputation. Getting the award was a timely reminder of what I am capable of and the impact I can hopefully have on others leading up to and as a veterinarian.”

The scholarship has also helped Katherine financially. She says “This is my 6th year of post-secondary education on my own dime and with loans. Vet school is expensive, so I am thankful to Bodj’s family for helping me to pursue something I truly love.”

Katherine shares “My love of animals and compassion for families like Bodj’s, inspires me to pay it forward throughout my career – whether this is through teaching, mentoring, volunteering, or taking part in projects that lighten the financial load for families with ill animals. Teaching is one of the most beneficial ways I will be able to pay it forward, as I can hopefully pass along knowledge and skills to as many people as possible to have the greatest impact on the health of our animals.”

Katherine encourages others to pursue a career in animal welfare, particularly in these times when we are facing a shortage of veterinarians across the country. “It is so important that we treat animals in the most ethical and humane way possible,” she says. “If you are interested in making an impactful change for the betterment of veterinary medicine and the care of animals, join the profession!”

Katherine also encourages anyone to apply for the 2024 scholarship. She says “It allows Bodj’s story to live on, prompts students to reflect on what they have done to contribute to animal welfare and how they can become more involved, and helps to lighten the financial burden that most of us students share.”

The 2024 scholarship application window opens today and the deadline for applying is June 30th, 2024.  To find out more about the Bodj von Grunfeld® Scholarship or to apply for this amazing opportunity, click here.

Bodj’s legacy reaches beyond the scholarship in her name. Inspired by Bodj’s spirit of caring and compassion, the family adopted 4-year old Sia, a sweet German Shepherd who had been abused. They bestowed Sia with love, respect and trust, and with the help of an experienced trainer, took on the challenge of rehabilitating and training her. After just 2 years, Sia is a fully accredited Service and Protection dog! It would appear that Bodj has passed the torch to an admirable successor.

If your pet left paw prints on your heart and you would like to explore the establishment of a scholarship in their memory, please reach out to the Nova Scotia SPCA for help.


The career options are endless in veterinary medicine, so you will always be able to find something you are passionate about and have the option to change career paths if you want to learn something new. Check them out here or click here to learn more and apply for Veterinary Assistant Program with the Nova Scotia SPCA College of Animal Welfare.

To read more about Katherine’s journey, click here.


Judy Layne

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