Island woman and rescue dog raise thousands in support of local animals
SHAWNIGAN LAKE – It's not unusual to find Judy calling into her car while wearing pyjamas. "[I see it] all the time!" a local man passing by says, with an affectionate laugh. "Go Jude!"
Judy's friend, Debbi, is watching as I focus the camera on Judy's festive outfit. "They're doggy Christmas pyjamas," Debbi says. "But it's all year long [that she wears them]."
No matter the season, a canine's the reason. "The dog's locked me out," Judy laughs, knocking on the rolled-down window of her car. Two white dogs peer out at her, tails wagging.
The story behind these doggy dilemmas started when Judy couldn't stop being struck with debilitating pain. "The pain's so bad I actually pass out cold," Judy says.
She was eventually diagnosed with a number of health issues, including breast cancer, which forced her to quit her job and retreat from the world.
"It was a life of hell for a few years," Judy recalls.
Judy says she couldn't have survived the experience without the unwavering support of her human friends and the unconditional love of her furry ones. "The dogs are my life," she smiles, placing her hand to her heart.
Now, Judy's focused on paying it forward.
"Literally, she's like a dog magnet," Debbi says. "She can find dogs and owners of dogs quicker than anybody I've known."
Debbi says her friend has helped about 50 missing or struggling dogs in this year alone. Judy will answer a call to help, no matter the time, no matter her outfit, no matter the car keys. Luckily, she knows exactly what to do when she's just rushed a rescue dog to the vet in her pyjamas only to return to find her own dog – Peaches – has locked her out of her car.
"Now I have to run around the vehicle until she hits the button and lets me back in," Judy smiles.
Peaches will eventually place her paw perfectly, Judy says, and they can continue on with their day.
Peaches was one of the 45 Havanese dogs rescued by the SPCA last year. The dog's fur was matted into large clumps and covered in urine and feces. "This is the worst case I have ever seen," a spokesperson for the SPCA said at the time.
Judy was called to help and ended-up adopting Peaches. Since then, they've spear-headed a campaign called Peaches for Pets, which benefits local animals. So far, they've helped raise thousands of dollars – through initiatives like bottle drives – to help local animals in need.
"She's a hero 'round here, as far as I'm concerned," says the man who cheered Judy's pyjamas at the beginning of this story.
Judy humbly dismisses the compliment, and credits others for her numerous contributions, including turning Peaches For Pets into an official non-profit.
"I can get it started," Judy says. "But if it wasn't for everybody else in our community making it happen, it wouldn't happen."
"When they talk about 'all dogs go to heaven', I tell you she's going to be right there with them," Debbi smiles. "She'll be pack-master as far as dogs go!"
It seems that although Judy's car is sometimes locked closed, Judy's heart is always wide open.