About three years ago, Rich retired from his job in IT and was looking for a useful way to spend some of his time. At the urging of a friend, he contacted Can Do Canines and signed up for an orientation. Now, he helps with dog transports, fostering and events of all kinds.
Rich says, “I originally volunteered to do short-term foster work. I love dogs, and after my own pooch passed away a few years ago, I missed having a canine companion around. As a foster, I can have a great dog in the house for stretches at a time, but also the freedom to be away when not fostering. I have also volunteered to assist with special events, such as graduations and fundraisers. Last year, I started doing transports for dogs, mostly coming and going from various prisons in the area. I still do foster work when I can, but I really like doing the transport driver duties as it gets me out of the house, seeing some landscape beyond my backyard!”
When asked about some of his favorite memories from his time volunteering, Rich recalls two: “Two summers ago I drove eight puppies to Jackson Correctional Institution in Wisconsin. When I arrived, I found nearly the entire office staff waiting on the lawn for the puppies. As soon as the puppies were let out of the van, those staff members showered them with love and attention, making the puppies feel wanted and at home in their new environment. It was like a picnic of puppies. Everyone was so happy!”
He continues, “My other favorite memory is reading a comment sheet from one of the inmates who had worked with a dog I was fostering. I will never forget the care and concern and love that she expressed for this dog, which was also indicative of the amount of work and time she had put into training this dog. And it showed. The dog was well mannered, well trained and it was clear to me that the prison inmates pour their own hearts and souls into training these dogs. It brought tears to my eyes to read. Many thanks to all our prison partners for their excellent work in helping to create these great service dogs!
When not volunteering, Rich stays busy with more than one hobby. He explains, “I like to do long distance bicycle touring. Last year, a friend and I toured northern Minnesota on a two-week, self-supported tour. We saw some beautiful parts of Minnesota and covered over 900 miles. I’ve also toured eastern Canada as well as the Canadian Rockies, Montana, North Dakota, Washington and Oregon. Like many things, there are lots of challenges, but worth it in the end. I also like to play my guitar and don’t miss too many episodes of Jeopardy!”
Just a few weeks ago, with less than a week’s notice, Rich drove all the way to Iowa, an eight-hour round trip, to pick up a dog from another organization for us. We are so lucky to have volunteers like Rich who are willing to help in big ways at a moment’s notice. Thank you for all you do to further the cause of Can Do Canines, Rich!