Joy for both dogs and humans in walking
The Good Life|January 2021
Marlene Farrell

My daughter, Alice, loves dogs.

Most of her friends have dogs, Chihuahuas, pointers, labs, mutts. Alice pines over Komondorok, the big white mop dogs, and the regal Dobermans. She tucks away most of her allowance in a dog fund that she plans to use in a decade.

Since COVID, Alice’s caretaking skills have vastly improved. She can’t take her lizard, Puff, for a walk, but she nurtures Puff, who attends Zoom classes with Alice and cuddles on her lap or nearby on a heated rice pillow.

Given her still very real longing for canine time (and that ownership is not viable for our family), we emailed the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society (WVHS), asking about volunteer opportunities. Immediately, volunteer coordinator Jenni Ulrich responded, and our journey began.

I wasn’t sure if this would be about dropping Alice off while I ran errands, but discovered, because Alice is 13 (almost 14), she needs an adult to accompany her.

So now it’s our shared experience, and I’m struck with the joy it brings both of us.

Remembering our nametags, we drive over a half hour from Leavenworth to the WVHS facility, which is impressive in its functionality, cleanliness and comfort for the animals. Checking in includes grabbing two fanny packs so each of us has a supply of treats and plastic bags.

Alice and I always like to say hello to all the pups before we begin our official duty, “green” dog walking. Green refers to the smallest and/or calmest dogs, which are easy for new volunteers to handle.

(We’ve just been trained and will soon walk “blue” dogs. Blue dogs, with their larger size and increased need for training, require us to be even more vigilant about behavior corrections and avoid over-excited encounters with other dogs that are out at the same time.)

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