This post is brought to you by GOOD and Purina ONE ®
This fall, we put out a call to pet owners in the GOOD Community to share an inspiring photo and story about how their pet has helped someone in need, through our Hero Pets GOOD Maker challenge. We received hundreds of submissions from across the U.S. with inspiring photos, videos and stories that celebrate the amazing impact that pets can have in our lives. The community voted on 15 finalists, and now we’re excited to announce the winner as Kathy Howard and her retriever, Wally.
Howard and Wally won coupons for a year’s supply of Purina ONE dog food, and a donation of $5,000 will be made to Support Dogs, Inc.
A member of Howard’s family for nearly nine years, Wally graduated from the Touch Therapy program at Support Dogs in 2007. For the past six years, Wally has been a comforting pal at a local high school and hospital. “I am a nurse and have always believed in the power of animal therapy,” says Howard. Another motivating reason for Howard to train Wally to become a therapy dog came from her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. “She could not remember my name, but she would speak fondly of the cats and dogs that the pet lady brought to her nursing home.”
After bringing Wally into her home as a young puppy, Howard realized he was a calm dog that loved kids. Remembering how much joy animals gave her own mom, Howard wanted to give others a similar experience. “I did a few obedience classes, including the Canine Good Citizenship class and then applied at Support Dogs for their program.” And Wally made the grade.
Every two weeks during the school year, Wally visits Northview, a special education high school just outside St. Louis, Missouri. “He has been to prom and graduation and is a fixture at the school with some other Touch Teams,” says Howard. When not visiting with the high school students, Wally spends time with Howard at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. He visits the oncology unit and provides a much needed distraction while the kids there receive their chemotherapy treatments.
“His calmness is his superpower,” says Howard.