In February, the Athens Area Humane Society will unveil their very first canine agility course, the Betty White Memorial Bark Park. The name is in honor of “America’s golden girl” and dog-lover, Betty White.
Since Betty White’s passing in December 2021, there has been a national push from animal welfare organizations to make Jan. 17, Betty White’s birthday, an official holiday or day of recognition.
It’s Jan. 17, the AAHS held a “Betty White Day.” The free event featured sponsored adoptions for all adult pets, along with highlights from White’s lifelong love of animals and support of animal rights groups.
AAHS CEO Cheryl McCormick and her team took the opportunity to create something in White’s legacy that exceeded a one-day-a-year celebration. Thus, the idea of creating an agility course was born. The organization has raised over $3,000 towards their goal of $5,000 to fund the course.
“We thought, ‘If Betty was here, what would most make her heart sing?’ And we knew that she had a really special love of dogs, so we wanted to do something especially awesome for the dogs,” McCormick said.
When the course is complete, dogs awaiting their forever homes will gain the skills and confidence that will help them get adopted. The course will help facilitate a relationship of trust between the dogs and their trainers.
“An agility course is not just to have something for the dogs to run around in and burn some energy,” McCormick said. “It’s really a well-designed expression of building trust and confidence in dogs who are perhaps anxious or fearful.”
Animal shelters do not traditionally have agility courses. However, the AAHS has no problem going against the grain to improve the lives of the pets, not only while they are in the shelter, but also for life after adoption.
Kelsey Fredriksen, the communications and marketing manager of the AAHS, is excited about the enrichment that Betty White Bark Park will bring to the dogs’ lives.
“The course will actually give them a lot of enrichment and challenge so that they’re feeling more confident and more comfortable. They’re more relaxed, so people can actually see what they would like in their homes,” Fredriksen said. “Anything we can do that will improve their lives while they’re here with us and prepare them for their future with their new families is something we want to pursue.”
The AAHS hopes the Betty White Memorial Bark Park will be completed and ready for use by their beloved four-legged friends in February.