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giving back

When their own dog died, Helen Brent and Malcolm Bernstein decided to use a book Mr. Bernstein wrote about him to benefit animal welfare charities.FRED LUM/The Globe and Mail

The donors: Malcolm Bernstein and Helen Brent

The gift: Raising at least $100,000

The cause: Animal shelters and welfare organizations

When Helen Brent gave her husband a terrier for his 50th birthday, the little dog quickly became an integral part of their family.

Over the years, Mr. Bernstein began jotting down notes about their life with Benjamin and it eventually became something of a diary. When Benjamin died last summer after a long illness, Mr. Bernstein turned his notes into The Benjamin Project, a book and companion educational package that touches on a wide range of animal welfare issues, including how to care for a seriously ill pet, tips on feeding and travelling, and what children need to know about caring for animals.

"It's a book aimed at pet owners," said Mr. Bernstein, now 63, who is an executive recruiter in Toronto and also volunteers with the Toronto Humane Society. Ms. Brent has retired from working in the non-profit sector.

The pair plan to launch the project this spring and all proceeds from the sale of the book and other items will go to animal welfare charities. Their goal is to raise at least $100,000 and introduce the project to schools across Ontario.

The couple haven't gotten another dog and aren't sure they ever will. "He took over our lives," Mr. Bernstein said. "He brought such unbelievable joy to so many people. … [The project] is for all the Benjamins out there."