Make-A-Wish Foundation grants girl's wish to visit Best Friends

Make-A-Wish Foundation grants girl's wish to visit Best Friends. Though Jenny Boxer died from a brain tumor, her spirit lives on at the Sanctuary.
By David Dickson

She visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary only once, but it felt to all of us like she had always been part of what we do. And though Jenny Boxer has died too young of a brain tumor, her spirit will be remembered forever in Angel Canyon.

Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfills girl's dream

Jenny was a remarkable young woman who came to Best Friends as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She was a forthright 11-year-old who was very clear that animals were the best people she had ever met. She said there was nothing fake about animals and that she cherished them.

Her parents, Brian and Mary Jane, have been longtime members of Best Friends, but they had never visited the sanctuary. After Jenny was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, she didn’t have to think twice about what her wish was. Forget Disneyland and the humans masquerading as mice, dogs and ducks … Jenny wanted the real deal. She wanted someplace as authentic as she was. She wanted to come to Best Friends, where she could be with animals who had endured abuse, neglect, and abandonment – and had triumphed over it all.

Visiting the animals

In February of this year, Jenny’s wish came true. For three days, she participated in every activity of the sanctuary that she could. She walked dogs, played with cats, and held parrots for the first time in her life. She cuddled rabbits and hung out with horses. The whole trip was one big treat after another.

Jenny’s intelligence and clarity of ideas charmed everyone who met her at the sanctuary.

When Jenny crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, her parents notified Jill Simpson, manager of the Humane Education department. "Her parents believe that Jenny held on to life to realize her dream and visit all the animals at Best Friends, since she deteriorated very quickly after returning home.

"Her parents are very grateful to everyone at the sanctuary who played a part in the last good week for Jenny. In lieu of flowers, they are asking for donations to Best Friends. Mary Jane and Brian plan to return to the sanctuary at some point and place a memorial for Jenny at Angels Rest," Jill says.

Girl's spirit lives on

But while Jenny’s memorial may be in Angels Rest, her vibrant spirit will be in every part of the sanctuary, romping with the dogs, racing up the cat trees with the kitties, lounging with the bunnies under their sun umbrellas, dancing through the parrot garden, galloping with the horses and following the deer as they leap over bushes.

At the time of her visit, Jenny said, "I thought Best Friends would be cool, but it’s even better than I expected." At the end of her trip, she had something else to say: "I don’t want to leave."

Welcome home, Jenny.

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