02/05/2013 05:46 EST | Updated 04/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Help a Dog Find His Forever Home


Pets are a constant source of inspiration. They motivate us to brave the cold on dark winter mornings and stay active. They fuel our spirits with their unconditional love and trust.

I was lucky enough to have Bear and Abby, two rescue dogs that not only did just that, but also inspired me to switch careers and later to start a national fundraiser to help homeless pets.

My wife and I found Bear, a long-haired German Shepherd, through an online rescue network called Adopt-A-Dog/Save-A-Life. At the time I was travelling a lot and my wife wanted a big dog that would make her feel more comfortable when she was home alone. A puppy didn't fit that bill, so we decided to adopt a rescue.

When we met Bear we instantly fell in love with him. He was this big, huge, hairy guy that weighed 120 pounds, but had a sweet, gentle disposition. He was also extremely well behaved, which left us wondering why anyone would ever have abandoned him.

The shelter explained Bear had inflammatory bowel disease and his pet parents found it too difficult to care for him. That didn't scare us off. We took Bear home and learned everything we could about pet nutrition and eventually found the right diet to manage his condition. I was amazed that through proper nutrition we could improve Bear's overall health and drastically improve his quality of life.

His transformation inspired me to switch careers and open a Global Pet Foods store in 1992 as a franchisee. Thanks to Bear, I'm now the president of Global and have been since 1995. But it was my second dog Abby who inspired me to help shelters give incredible animals like Bear and Abby a second chance.

Abby was found in a dumpster on an especially cold fall day along with a litter of puppies. One of only two puppies to survive, Abby, barely a day old, was picked up by the Humane Society. A friend at the Humane Society knew I was looking for a dog after Bear passed away and called me immediately.

When we brought Abby home I started thinking about how Global Pet Foods could give back to shelters as a company. I wanted to support smaller, community-based organizations -- the local shelters and groups that don't receive government funding or have their own fundraising departments.

These shelters do all the work, often on their own dime and through the blood, sweat and tears of volunteers. So we decided Global Pet Foods should become their fundraising department.

In 2006 our annual fundraiser, Show Us Your Heart, was born. Every February, each Global Pet Foods store selects a local shelter in its community to support. We then ask pet parents to donate a dollar and we match the first dollar of their donation. All proceeds go back to the local shelters.

With the help of our generous customers, we have now raised over $400,000 for animal shelters across Canada. Those funds have helped shelters pay vet bills, buy supplies and keep their doors open -- all in the quest to find forever homes for dogs like Bear and Abby.

Show Us Your Heart isn't just any ordinary store fundraiser. It's a chance to directly give back to animal caregivers who give their whole hearts to help homeless pets each day.

This February let's put our money where our hearts are and show them ours!

For information on how you can help, click here.

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