The saying “Time flies when you’re having fun,” aptly describes Can Do Canines Volunteer Marilyn Lingard’s 10-year experience with us. In 2013, she attended a presentation at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. There, a speaker shared some research about dogs and referenced some work in Washington, D.C. she was doing with service dogs.
Her curiosity piqued, Marilyn researched similar organizations in the Twin Cities and stumbled upon Can Do Canines. Since then, she has helped at nearly every type of event we offer, hosted dogs of various ages and for varying amounts of time in her home, made phone calls to donors, walked dogs, and staffed information tables for us at community events. As Outreach Coordinator Laurie Carlson says of Marilyn, “She does it all!”
Although Marilyn had a dog of her own when she began volunteering with us, she no longer has a pet dog and is now retired. She enjoys the freedom to travel without having the full responsibility of a dog. Her home is rarely without one, though. Over the years, she has taken care of over 15 Can Do Canines. She says, “I think the thing that most excites me now is working with the Prison Program, bringing dogs from Waseca to my home for break.” She recalls a stereotypical jailbreak scene when she offered to transport a pair of Lab sisters back from Waseca for herself and another volunteer. “They started dancing around like they were escaping from prison and they were going to have a party in the back seat.”
Marilyn has equal enthusiasm for the Prison Program and shares, “It’s an outstanding example of how Can Do Canines serves the whole community.” She includes notes back to the inmates, encouraging them and reminding them, “We’re part of a team.”
She also relishes her weekly dog-walking shifts. This winter, one of the dogs she had as a young puppy a couple of years ago, Lulu, entered final training at our kennel. “Lulu is teaching me how to come full circle with the organization, since she was my Great Start, and now as a dog walker, I get to see how she has developed.”
Marilyn is thrilled to see the volunteer program continuing to develop as well, noticing the quality and quantity of new volunteers helping out. She believes the way staff engages with volunteers is a critical piece of that puzzle. “We get very good feedback and supervision from the staff. I think that’s important.
They are wonderful in helping all volunteers in improving their skills and work with the dogs so everybody steps up and does the best they can.”
As for her own thoughts on encouraging others to volunteer, Marilyn says, “There are so many ways to get involved with Can Do Canines. That’s what makes it such a great organization. There’s something for everyone.”