Bonita Vanderkooi finds the perfect fit in Best Friends

Bonita Vanderkooi holding a small brown and white dog in her arms
When Bonita Vanderkooi and her husband, Doug, considered who was to inherit most of the wealth they’d saved from their decades working for State Farm, there was hardly anything to discuss.
By Best Friends staff

“We love Best Friends,” says Bonita. “The Sanctuary is my favorite place on the planet. And it’s just me and Doug and no kids. So we decided, ‘Let’s leave it all to Best Friends.’”

Even the technical details of “leaving it all” turned out to be a cinch. With a few minutes online, the Vanderkoois had made their wishes official.

“Whether it’s retirement, life insurance, annuities, whatever, it’s so easy to leave Best Friends a legacy,” says Bonita. “They make it so super, super easy.”

The Vanderkoois’ legacy gift is a logical extension of their longstanding love for Best Friends. For 20 years they’ve been members, making annual trips to visit and volunteer at the Sanctuary, gathering poignant memories, and encountering uncanny coincidences along the way. Over time, six of their dearly departed pets would be interred at the Sanctuary’s Angels Rest.

As for those coincidences: During one of their visits to Dogtown, the Vanderkoois happened upon trainer John Garcia, who happens to be one of the stars of their favorite documentary, The Champions, featuring Best Friends’ role in rescuing 22 dogs confiscated from NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring. The dogs — many of whom went on to become therapy dogs, canine good citizens, and cherished members of loving families — came to be known as the Vicktory Dogs.

“And by the way,” says Bonita, “one of them was named Bonita.”

Of course she was.

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