Meet One of Our Featured Pet Partner Team – Dusty and Lynda Wigal

“Everybody loves Dusty” is the theme song for the Pet Partner Team of Dusty and Lynda Wigal.

On August 30, 2001, I stopped at Williamson County Humane Shelter to see if a puppy could be adopted to be a sister to a fourteen-year-old boxer/beagle called Mandy who is very territorial. After passing cages on two rows, I thought that this was going to be a fruitless effort. And, then, reaching the second cage from the end, there was the most darling puppy. She look at me as I looked at her and a mutual bond was formed.

Holding her, while learning her background of being a stray in Nolensville, she was thin and desperate for food and water and scared when the shelter people picked her up before possibly being hit by a car. After keeping her for seven days to give her previous owners the opportunity to re-claim her, I was fortunate enough to be the first person to see her debut to being adopted. How lucky I was to find her! The previous owners have no idea what they lost in their beautiful, loveable golden retriever/border collie.

It took ten days for Mandy to realize the new puppy was here to stay — just as the shelter man told me it would. Mandy stopped growling and let herself enjoy playing and mentoring our new arrival! What great sisters they are — Dusty has kept Mandy young in spirit and activities and Mandy has given Dusty a sense of belonging.

A new puppy needs a name! After trying out a lot of different ones, when walking with her and seeing the sun shine on her hair, I thought that she looked like she had been dusted with ANGEL DUST — thus her name became DUSTY !!!

As we all know, a puppy needs constant attention, and Dusty was no exception. Nashville Obedience Training Club offered two puppy level classes that we took to socialize and earn her Canine Good Citizen Award.

Starting to volunteer at the shelter’s canine unit, I met Dee Mathews who told me about the twelve week training course through the Delta Society. So a decision needed to be made between taking this course or training with Dusty for border collie trails herding sheep.

Knowing from personal experience the joy my mother received when puppies and dogs visited the assisted living area in he last stages of her life, there was no choice but to help and try to return some of what my mother received. And especially to people whose lives have changed and need attention, diversion, and love. So our team joined Sarah Kloog and Cookie at Manor of Steeplechase and Morningside once a month to visit. One lady sings to Dusty nearly every visit while a male resident relates how Dusty reminds him of his dogs.

The next activity for our team became Project R.E.A.D. This was a great fit for both of us because Dusty’s kind, sweet and smart nature with my background in teaching allows us to help young readers and school children at both Edmondson and Lipscomb Elementary schools every Tuesday. Working with Ms. Dona McIlvain, the reading specialist for both schools, Mr. Wells and Dr. Calton, Principals, respectively, has been an absolute delight!

Dusty and I had the joy of being in the “Read Across America” program for two weeks talking about pet responsibility, how to give snacks safely, health care, and the joys of pet ownership and how they can help the student read better if they read to their own pets. They, also, got the opportunity to pet Dusty since these children did not read to Dusty for the most part. Dusty LOVED all of this attention.

This precious pup/dog who might not have survived puppy hood now is a RAY OF SUNSHINE to students needing help with self-esteem and reading, to children of another culture who couldn’t read English, to children who refused to read aloud when others were present, to an adopted child who needed special help, to children who had dreadful home situations and were now in foster care — all fell in love with Dusty, who made each of these children feel special and help to improve their reading skills.

Both Dusty and I thank Merilee Kelley and Dee Mathues and Delta Society for getting Project R.E.A.D. to being such a successful and rewarding program. We are so thrilled to be a part of this outstanding program.

“Everybody loves Dusty” is so, so true.

Dusty practices her R.E.A.D.ing