Working at The Wilderness Society is pretty awesome. We get to protect the most beautiful and iconic places in America, for the many benefits that they provide all living creatures. Mountain peaks, red rock canyons, and deep, ancient forests are all things that we think of and work on every day of the week.
So we might be forgiven for sometimes becoming overly enamored with the beautiful landscapes that inspire us rather than focusing on the individual bonds that make our experiences in these places so wonderful. Thankfully, a dog named Woodie has reminded us of what our mission means at a more personal level. Recently, a note from a Wilderness Society member named Amy came across our membership team’s desk, like so many do. Amy’s message about her father and his dog caused something very special to happen among our staff.
“Please accept the enclosed donation to further the work of The Wilderness Society. I’m offering this donation in memory of my father’s dog, Woodie, who passed away this spring. Woodie, an American Water Spaniel, left the family far too early.
My dad and his dog have spent many hours in our natural world, whether it is was long walks, canoeing, duck hunting or berry picking. While most of the time was spent in our backyard in central Wisconsin, my dad has a global perspective of conservation and stewardship. He holds The Wilderness Society in high regard, and respects the work you’ve been doing.
It’s for that reason that I wanted to send a donation in memory of Woodie, and the memories he leaves with my mother and father…”
Our membership team quickly shared Amy’s letter about her tribute gift to Woodie with the rest of us knowing it would make our day.
And, it did. Within minutes, we were e-mailing back and forth with pictures and stories of our own dogs in the wild: Kemo standing majestic atop a peak, Murf gracing the woods, Stella frolicking on the shore, Mojo just plain happy on a mountainside and Otis looking like heaven was found on a marsh. Several cats even made appearances in an unusual sign of interspecies solidarity.
And then in a touching show of affection our staff began offering up more.
Many of us donated in Woodie’s memory.
Some gave in memory of their own beloved dogs no longer around for walks through the woods. Others made pledges to honor current pets. Before we knew it, we were calling Amy to tell her our staff had pledged $774 to honor Woodie and the memory of other four-legged friends.
Our online team was so inspired, they pulled together this video of Wilderness Society dogs loving nature.
The unifying theme: these dogs with their wagging tails and silly grins brought into focus, far better than any words could, how the spirit is lifted by time spent in a place especially important to us.
The stories and pictures reminded me of my own dogs. Zoe, who passed away in 2005 from bone cancer, was a golden retriever (and possibly part sea lion) who loved the water. I thought of afternoon kayak trips with Zoe at the lake near my parents’ house in Pennsylvania. Inevitably, at day’s end, Zoe would bark accusingly from the water as I put the kayak away — barks that I knew translated to the fact that Zoe had only begun her swimming excursion, thank you very much.
After Zoe passed away, Cody entered my life. Although a golden like Zoe, Cody didn’t share Zoe’s love of water. Now, it is Cody, deep in the woods of western Pennsylvania always carrying a tennis ball in his mouth like it is the greatest treasure on earth.
Yes, I was touched deeply by the story of Woodie — as were Wilderness Society staff in D.C., Colorado, Pennsylvania, Montana, Arizona, North Carolina, Idaho, Alaska — well, actually, just about everywhere in our country.
I think I know why we responded to Woodie’s story the way we did. We work to protect places like Utah’s Red Rock country, Colorado’s Vermillion Basin, Washington’s Northern Cascades, Montana’s Crown of the Continent and so many other special lands. And our pets are often with us when we head to such favorite places to relax, plug-in and reboot. Whether it is a raucous romp or a stroll in silence, these moments and memories are deeply associated with who we are — and quite often, our dogs are with us (if the space is appropriate and permits doggie recreation, of course).
Thank you, Amy, for giving us a chance to honor our special pets and for reminding us that spending time in nature with our best buddies, whether they be two-legged or four-legged, is a wonderful part of what we’re all working to preserve.
We were so energized that we want to keep the energy flowing with our supporters. We’d like to hear your stories and see pictures of your pets, out in the wild with you. Whether it is a hunting companion, running partner, or just a buddy out on the trail, we’d love to hear about it.
And if you’d like to donate to Woodie’s memory — or your own four-legged friend — we’ve set up a link for you to share how your dog and you enjoy the outdoors and why these special places must always be around.
We can’t wait to see your dog’s favorite spots, so please share your story.
Jasper, pride and joy of Sean Bowie, our Development Coordinator.
Grace smiling at owner Lisa Loehr, our Vice President of Operations.