At their first annual Dogust, the celebration of a universal birthday for shelter dogs, Pembina Valley Humane Society unveiled the Allen Titchkosky Memorial Dog Run.
PVHS has been working on the project for the last couple months, and the run is in and has already been benefitting some of the dogs at the shelter.
Titchkosky was a founding member of the Pembina Valley Humane Society and a dedicated volunteer at the shelter.
Titchkosky’s oldest daughter Jennifer Siemens said growing up on a farm, their family always had a close connection with animals.
“Animals just were always attracted to my dad,” she said. “One time I was backing out of their driveway and there was a dog coming down the road with a rope around its neck dragging behind… Dad just went out and called it and the dog went with him.”
Siemens said she and her sister Tracie were always bringing home stray animals, including cats and a fully grown Irish Setter.
Siemens was around when PVHS first started in Titchkosky’s living room. “I would come out once a week to visit and I never knew what I was walking into,” she said. “I remember dad building pens by hand, looking for wood, looking for pallets, trying to find some fencing. He built that all by hand.”
Titchkosky passed away in June, and PVHS public relations chair Holly Thorne said the shelter knew immediately they wanted to do something in his memory. They started fundraising and raised around $1,500.
Since one of Titchkosky’s favourite things to do was to run the dogs, Thorne said they decided to put the empty space they had out back to good use.
“We’ve been able to put in dog enrichment toys, big giant tires, hoops to jump through,” she said. “It’s really something that Al would love to see. He loved going out back there with dogs and running them. He could spend hours back there.”
Thorne said it’s great to see the project come together and to feel the love from the community.
“Not only did we get monetary donations but people were donating supplies,” she said. “They were donating time to come help install all of these things. It’s been so wonderful to see.”
Thorne said many of the shelter dogs have been enjoying the space already. “It seems to be going over well,” she said. “Some of our dogs aren’t sure about it, but we have others here at the shelter that just love it.”
Siemens said it means a lot to see the memorial run finished. “My dad was always very humble,” she said. “A simple guy, a farmer, never wanted to brag or anything. To have people recognize that this, which is a great thing, started so small… I think it’s a good example for a simple guy doing what he does with the passion and hard work, it can grow into something like this.”
“We’re all capable of having such an impact,” she added.
Siemens said it was amazing to see the dogs out using the run. “This was his favourite thing, running the dogs,” she said.