Lots of tails will be wagging at Minto Brown Island Park on Sept. 14, and it all has to do with the pets of hospice patients.

The seventh annual Walk-n-Wag is a fundraiser for Pet Peace of Mind, a special service program operated by Willamette Valley Hospice that provides free pet care for hospice patients’ pets, helping to keep patients and their pets together during the hospice journey.

Pet Peace of Mind is a unique program that provides training for hospice volunteers so they can help pet owners with tasks they may no longer be able to do, such as walking a dog, cleaning a litter box, or taking a pet to the veterinarian or groomer.

For example, dachshunds Doc and Willie were able to stay with their owner, even as he got too weak to care for them during his months in Willamette Valley Hospice’s care. Volunteers took the dogs for walks several times a week and transported them to and from veterinary visits. When their owner died, Soapy Paws gave them a nice grooming before local rescue Salem Dogs found them a new, loving home.

For those hospice patients who are unable to keep their pets at home with them, the Pet Peace of Mind program at Willamette Valley Hospice works alongside local rescues and foster families to find permanent homes for the animals.

Shelley Wagener, who coordinates the program, remembers Elsa, an attentive and faithful cat to her owner over a long illness. After her owner died, Shelley worked with Salem Friends of Felines, who helped find Elsa a new family to provide her many more years of cuddles.

The annual Walk-n-Wag event at Minto Brown Park in Salem provides a beautiful walking route, a pet-centered vendor village with entertainment and education, door prizes, games and a “poster dog.” Cost is $10 to register at wvh.org/pets, or $15 at the event.

Contact Shelley Wagener, 503-588-3600, for more information.

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