His eyes are the first thing I see. Vino is at his kennel door, earnest and unsure. At 90 pounds, he is a gentle though rambunctious giant with a head as big as his goofy smile. I’m grateful he is here with us and know that because he landed with VIPP, he has a future that will, without question, be full of love and security. But right now, having just lost his lifelong family, this dear boy is beyond heartbroken and looking to us for help and healing.
As many in this community know, Barbara Drinkwater, along with her partner Piro Kramar, founded VIPP in 1984. And, while she did not live to see it come to fruition, Barb long dreamt about creating a dedicated space to care for the island’s lost, abandoned and abused dogs.
I count myself incredibly fortunate to have known Barb. I first connected with her and with VIPP not long after moving to the island more than 20 years ago. I had found what I thought was a big malamute dog running loose and dodging cars on Bank Road. After gathering the dog into my car, I called the VIPP number and talked to Barb for the first time. It was late at night, and while chatting with her on my pull-the-antenna-out early model cellphone, I realized the dog licking my face was not a malamute but a wolf hybrid. So, as I sat with a scared wolfdog in the backseat and asked Barb for help, her words were both welcome, and a reflection of what soon I learned was at her foundation. She told me that VIPP was here to help and would do whatever was needed to ensure the dog was safe and cared for.
Barb was and will always be the True North that guides the VIPP Dog Program and our work. She taught us all the real meaning of rescue. That it is total and complete. Unwavering and uncompromising. Taking each animal as the unique individual that he or she is. Doing everything possible to make them whole. Healing bodies, hearts and spirits. It means always helping the animal in front of you. No question. No hesitation. Give them everything they need for as long as they need it. And above all, let them know that they are safe and loved.
We recently shared the amazing news that after decades of not having our own place to care for the dogs that come to VIPP, we are now leasing the NW Canine Connection property to create a warm and home-like space for our pups to give them the support and care they deserve.
With this, I would like to officially introduce you to what we now call the Barbara Drinkwater Legacy Lodge for Dogs.
We are truly over the moon about the “Lodge” and our new dog care model. But we can’t do this work alone and need community members to make the Lodge a success by stepping up to help us care for dogs in need.
Will you help us honor Barb and care for dogs by joining us as a VIPP Dog Program volunteer?
We are looking for volunteers to walk and exercise VIPP dogs. The Lodge has several fenced play areas and is also close to pedestrian-friendly routes. We also need people who can spend TLC time with VIPP dogs in one of our “Love Rooms,” where you’ll find comfortable seating to read or watch Netflix, all while having a pup snuggled at your feet or by your side. Strict COVID-19 safety protocols are in place, and only a small number of people will be allowed in the Lodge at any time, with masks required at all times.
At VIPP, we are big believers in the power of people coming together to do good. We see first-hand how important community and collaboration are, and the simple truth is that we could not do what we do for animals in need without people standing up with us.
If you are ready to help us help VIPP dogs, have questions or want more information, please send an email to dogs@VIPP.org.
Vino is waiting. Are you in?
Amy Carey coordinates Vashon Island Pet Protector’s dog program.