Barb Verhage began volunteering for Can Do Canines in 2012 after entering retirement. Her first volunteer role was as a Puppy Socializer. She was tasked with engaging and socializing the puppies in the kennel. Quick to take on more responsibility, Barb then became an outing volunteer, a role she continues to do every Wednesday alongside Joanne Nichols and Lisa Hathy. This trio brings dogs in training into the community for extra socialization and to work on obedience skills in new environments. “It’s fun to go out with three dogs because people notice you more. You get a little more attention and they’re more likely to ask questions. So we’re kind of like ambassadors,” Barb says.
Barb is also a Puppy Program volunteer. She says, “Initially I became really involved in the Prison Program. I only live an hour from Waseca so I tried to get a dog from there every few weeks. I’ve also done three Long-Term Fosters. My most recent Long-Term Foster, Daphne, is the first one to make it into final training. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed.” When asked her favorite memory from volunteering, Barb shares, “I think it was having Daphne. She is such a delight. She’s a sweetheart and was a great fit for me. I loved Long-Term Fostering her and because of that, I probably will do it again.”
When asked what has surprised Barb about her time volunteering, she says, “The great people that I’ve met along the way. As much as the dogs are great and I’ve loved working with them, I’ve made such good friends and many have become my best friends. We would have never met if it weren’t for Can Do Canines.”
To someone who is thinking of volunteering, Barb replies, “ … get involved in any way you can. Especially having fosters and attending classes. That’s a great way to get to know people. It makes you feel really involved. Just jump in and do it because you will not regret it.”
Between outings and fostering Barb finds time to volunteer in other ways—tabling events, public access training for new volunteers, and fundraising for the Woofaroo and the Fetching Ball Gala. She also has two career changed dogs from Can Do Canines who are therapy dogs now. “So when I’m not here, I’m doing therapy dog volunteering with them. We go to schools and we read with the kids and we go to nursing homes. It’s very rewarding,” Barb says.
Thank you, Barb, for all you do for Can Do Canines. We are so glad you are part of our pack!