This Italian Greyhound wants you to support the MSPCA.

This Italian Greyhound wants you to support the MSPCA.

There’s room in Shawn Thornton’s heart for more than just Grayzie the Italian Greyhound and Dakota the Vizsla.

That’s why the rugged Boston Bruins winger and his wife Erin are supporters of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). Thornton, whose sister-in-law Christa Chadwick is actually the Director of Animal Care for the Ontario SPCA, lends time to raise funds in Boston and back home when he can. Sunday afternoon at TD Banknorth Garden, Thornton will be a major part of MSPCA Day.

Among the events will be a chance for fans to win Shawn Thornton doggy baskets, including a Thornton autographed t-shirt, a Thornton autographed dog jersey, a Thornton autographed puck and a Boston Bruins dog leash.

Thornton said he had dogs growing up and when he met Erin the couple purchased Grayzie while living in Norfolk. With two “best friends” at home, he spends time at the local dog park. And more than anything he relishes their undying love.

“It doesn’t matter how bad your day is or what’s going on. When you come home they’re extremely happy to see you,” Thornton told theBruinsBlog.net.  “You’re gone for 15 minutes and come back to the house, it’s like I’ve been gone for weeks.

“I’m pretty lucky. My dogs have pretty good personalities. It’s probably because my wife spoils them.”

The Bruins’ leader in fighting majors isn’t the only member of the Black and Gold with a soft spot for four-legged friends. At least a half dozen Bruins have dogs. Goaltender Tim Thomas had to put down his shepherd-mix last summer after 10 1/2 years. But the Thomas family has replaced that dog (purchased in Finland) with a collie-mix that’s fit right in.

“He’s incredible with the kids,” Thomas said.

In addition to the unconditional love Thornton enjoys, Thomas said having a dog gives him piece of mind.

“I don’t know how much protection that he actually provides, but I like for the fact that when I’m on the road, and even when I’m home, just to let you know there’s somebody else around,” he explained.

The silent auction for the Thornton baskets will take place at the BBF table on Loge 4, Section 4 at the Garden from 2 p.m. until the second intermission. Other prizes will be seven Bruins decorated and signed ceramic dog bowls, featuring the autographs of Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, Marc Savard, Thomas and Bruins alumni John Bucyk and Cam Neely.

So even if the Bruins don’t prevail on Sunday, at least the Bay State’s animals will benefit.