A week ago, Brian Machowski, Wally’s dad, wrote to PPFF requesting Champion Tags for the state parks that he and Wally had visited. He attached the featured image to his email and just like that we had fallen in love! Read on to find out about Wally and Brian.
Brian and Wally at Lackawanna State Park Winterfest
When did you and Wally start going on adventures together?
Wally and I started our adventures about two years ago. We have hiked over 900 miles in the last two years throughout the state parks, state forests, and local hiking trails.
Which state parks and forests have you visited?
We have visited and hiked Archbald Pothole State Park, Beltsville State Park, Big Pocono State Park, Frances Slocum State Park, Gouldsboro State Park, Hickory Run State Park, Lehigh Gorge State Park, Nescopeck State Park, Promised Land State Park, Pompton State Park, Ricketts Glen State Park, Salt Springs State Park, Tobyhanna State Park, Varden Conservation and Pinchot State Forest.
Our go-to state park in the wintertime is Lackawanna State Park. Other favorite state parks so far are Salt Springs State Park, Promised Land State Park, and Vosburg Neck State Park.
Every State Park we have hiked has great trails to hike with your dog. There are easy trails for people who want to be outside and enjoy what our state parks have to offer, but we love hiking some of the more challenging trails because they have some of the most beautiful views.
How did you and Wally first come together and what’s the story behind Wally’s unique look?
Wally was rescued on September 26, 2020. He was found on the side of the road in Georgia, wrapped in a blanket, full of worms.
When Wally was a puppy and we were starting to hike, his vet told me that Wally had very light pink around his eyes which could get sunburned. That’s where the Goggles he wears came into play. They protected his eyes from the sun much like our sunglasses do.
Even though he’s grown and the pink around his eyes has darkened, he still continues to wear them because they protect his eyes from the branches, sun, and debris on the ground when we hike. Plus, he likes to have his head out the window when we are driving to our adventures and his goggles protect his eyes from the bugs, rain, snow, and anything in the air.
Do you have any tips for people who would like to take their dog out on an adventure to a state park or forest?
First and foremost, please wear the proper footwear. We hiked some state parks that were very slippery and we saw people wearing flip-flops, sneakers, and shoes they should not be wearing. Also, always be aware of your surroundings. I have a backpack for Wally with plenty of bottled water, Benadryl in case he gets bitten by something, a first aid kit for him, as well as bear spray, an air horn, and a whistle in case we get into trouble.
We have been fortunate not to come across a bear yet, but we have seen a lot of bear droppings.
We saw some really nice pictures of Wally at Lackawanna State Park Winterfest. Can you tell us about that experience?
Wally and I have been going to the Lackawanna State Park Winterfest for the past two years. Last year, he was able to go on the ice for the first time and had such a great time. He loved watching the water rescue demonstrations, meeting the Department of Conservation and Natura Resources (DCNR) officers and staff, and warming up by the fires they had. This year, there was not enough ice but they still had the water rescue demonstrations. He got to see his DCNR friends and got to be part of the kids’ crafts where he met so many children.
How did Wally start his work as a therapy dog?
Wally and I were at a Veteran’s Association (VA) bike ride for the Gino Merli VA to meet the veterans who were brought there from the VA. We met one veteran who told us about his experience in World War II.
After our conversation, the director of the VA came over to me and asked me what the gentleman had said, revealing that he had not raised his head for them in three months. He did for Wally. She then asked us if we would like to come to the VA to visit the other veterans.
Now Wally is an AKC Therapy Dog at the Gino Merli VA and the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Airport. We are also onboarding as a Therapy Team at Lehigh Valley Hospital and Residential Hospice.
You can find out more about Wally’s adventures on Where’s Wally Now!
Would you like to get outdoors more with your own special friend? Check out The Outdoor Dog for pet-friendly state parks and forests and pet first aid!