FeaturesLife StyleShop Dogs

SHOP DOGS

By September 29, 2020 October 28th, 2020 No Comments

Willie

By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer

Paws for a cause: Meet this furry ambassador for a Wish with Wings

There have been many wonderful things donated to a Wish with Wings: Volunteer hours, money to support the Fort Worth-based nonprofit and, of course, the “wishes” granted to young people with life-threatening medical conditions.

And then there’s Willie the Wish Dog. The fuzzy goldendoodle was 8 weeks old when he became part of the Wish family. “We work a lot with Cook Children’s Medical Center and have seen the success of their Sit … Stay … PLAY canine therapy program,” says Judy Youngs, Willie’s caretaker and CEO of a Wish with Wings. Thinking a comfort dog was just what they needed, she contacted a breeder, Snickers Doodles, who had a puppy that was supposed to go to Texas A&M. Instead, they donated Willie upon learning of a Wish with Wings’ mission and the kids they serve.

Willie lives with Youngs and her husband at Walsh Ranch, the residential development just west of Fort Worth. He grew up taking walks and riding in a golf cart nicknamed the “Wish Wagon” around the pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. “Willie now has a big fan club at Walsh, with humans and his dog friends,” says Youngs.

While he is not a certified service dog, he plays an important role as an ambassador for a Wish with Wings. He has gone through obedience training and goes to the Wish office every day with Youngs. Sometimes, days are quiet — Willie has a lot of options for nap time — but on other occasions, he meets Wish recipients and their families.

While he is not a certified service dog, he plays an important role as an ambassador for a Wish with Wings. He has gone through obedience training and goes to the Wish office every day with Youngs. Sometimes, days are quiet — Willie has a lot of options for nap time — but on other occasions, he meets Wish recipients and their families.

“Willie loves to play hard, but when a child in a wheelchair approaches him, he’s calm and gentle,” says Youngs. “He has amazing instincts with the kids. I think he knows how to make them feel safe.”

Youngs says the pandemic hasn’t slowed down requests for wishes or the staff in working to get them granted. (They’ve been able to fulfill emergency and non-travel wishes.) Willie got to be part of one in September that involved the Fort Worth police and fire departments, along with MedStar, all of which formed a special emergency vehicle brigade to cheer up a critically ill patient at Cook Children’s. “We’ve already received more than 80 wish applications this year,” says Youngs, who says she looks forward to the time when they can get back to making them come true. Learn more about a Wish with Wings at awww.org; follow Willie on social media at facebook.com/WillietheWishDog.