Suzanne the Superhero

By Leann Soon

Suzanne is not your average contributor to Parachutes for Pets, and she’s not your average dog lover. While the pandemic hit a lot of entrepreneurs very hard, she turned it into an opportunity to heal our community, not medically, but emotionally.

When COVID first hit, Suzanne was already used to quarantining, after having spent 18 days in the ICU from a rare heart condition in December 2019. This was one of the many tough situations she has been through in her life, and her approach to lockdown was to treat it like another hurdle to overcome. Having experienced hardship and trauma, she felt mentally prepared to go into the pandemic and come out strong, no matter what.

Many of us were not very capable of coping with COVID restrictions and Suzanne was determined to help when people started showing distress. As an expert in the dog-training industry, she wanted to give back through her knowledge and passion. She set up a 20-day challenge to train people (and dogs) over webinars, paying what they could, and to heal through learning new skills and bonding further with their dogs. Suzanne knew about Parachutes for Pets and its mission aligned with all her values and interests, so she donated a portion of her earnings to Parachutes for Pets.

Suzanne is determined to continue helping people, and part of that is sharing her truly amazing perspective. A few years ago, with the help of her amazing friends, family and co-workers, she was able to overcome a terrifying personal situation with her two German Shepherds in tow. Suzanne credits her father for giving her the insight and courage to move forward – as a convert to Buddhism, he practices “global compassion”.

A good way of illustrating this concept is: if you had a child who wanted to touch a flame, would you let her, knowing that if you didn’t, she would throw a temper tantrum? Most people would say no because even if the child cries, you are preventing the child from actual harm. The same applies to abusive adults – even if you love them, destructive behaviors not only hurt their victims, but bring pain and isolation to the perpetrator. This is when Suzanne realized that love is not about holding on at all costs, which is possession, but about allowing and encouraging the people you love to grow and evolve into who they were meant to be, even if it means letting them go and do that without you, and vice versa.

And this love is not just for other people, but animals too. As with many people who are clients of Parachutes for Pets, her dogs are everything to her and really helped her through the tough times. Her one competition dog, Cavalli, has been a challenge since puppyhood, but became a welcome and much-needed focus (and distraction) for her while they were training for competitions. Cavalli never gave up or quit, no matter how far she was pushed or how exhausted she was. If she could do it, Suzanne knew she could. Her dogs forced her to be present in the moment, and it was truly a blessing at the time because she could forget everything else and just focus on her relationship with her dogs. As Suzanne says, “you may not get the dog you want, but you always get the dog you need”.

Her dogs inspired her, her family helped her financially, her workplace gave her the flexibility she needed and her friend took all three of them in when it was so hard to find a place that would accept pets. This all convinced her that she and her dogs would be taken care of until she could stand on her own two feet again. Suzanne also credits the helpline for domestic violence in Calgary for the difference they make in our community, and for her specifically – while she knows that she is so lucky to have her support system, not everyone is in the same boat, and she wants people to know that no matter how alone they feel, there are always resources.

Suzanne’s hope is that her learnings inspire others – it’s clear from her bravery, selflessness and compassion that she has already succeeded! Thanks Suzanne!

EDITORS NOTE: Did you know that Parachutes for Pets helps domestic violence victims by providing emergency supplies, and vet care?

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