Newly retired back in 2013, Bev Barney decided to volunteer at St. Hubert’s after bringing her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, KC, to a therapy dog prep class at the Training and Behavior Center. But her early volunteer experience did not go entirely smoothly. On her first day of dog walking training, Bev remembers, “I couldn’t get the harness on, and the dog escaped… I flunked.” The dog was quickly retrieved, but a St. Hubert’s staff member gently suggested that Bev might be happier helping out at the front desk.
The front desk position suited her perfectly, and she still has regular shifts there, but Bev’s luck with the shelter pups also improved. A warm and compassionate dog lover, she enjoyed making enrichment toys and took videos for the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, when it was still based at St. Hubert’s. Then she was asked by a St. Hubert’s staff member if she’d be interested in spending some quiet time with a few of the most frightened dogs in the kennel. This quickly became one of Bev’s favorite activities, and twice a week she spends an hour in a quiet room reading to dogs. “I read a book I think they will enjoy,” she says. The One and Only Ivan and All Creatures Great and Small are her current go-to selections. Shy Canela, pictured below with Bev, visibly brightens when she comes to her kennel.
Bev and her therapy dog KC, now 12 years old, also still make regular visits to Morristown Medical Center. And Bev enjoys making follow-up calls to people who have adopted from St. Hubert’s. “Ninety five percent of them are happy,” she says. The ones who are having trouble she connects with the Pet Helpline.
Bev’s commute to the Madison campus can take more than an hour. Both the animals and staff are grateful she’s committed to making the drive!