Sometimes destiny comes calling. That’s what seems to be happening at the Wallowa County Humane Society this week. Suddenly, instead of moving to adequate, but smaller, remodeled quarters sequestered in an alley, they have found themselves front and center at the EM&M Building, and about to embark on a serious business venture that will benefit the human community as well as our furry friends: a thrift shop to complement Soroptimist. One kindly Soroptimist thrift shop volunteer said, “We are happy for them, and we are really looking forward to cooperating. But do they know how much work this is?”

Even better that a thrift shop, someday, a DOG WASH! No more soapy battles in the bathtub, or dances around the lawn with a hose. Soon there will be a chance for Wallowa County’s dogs to experience the joys of a nice, civilized warm-water scrubbing, and many Wallowa County homes to become (more or less) fur-free(r) zones. Hooray!

This growth comes not as a fluke, and not as a random chance. Carol Vencill, Denise Clevenger, and the rest of the Wallowa County Humane Society board and volunteers have been thinking, planning, and cogitating over the idea of a “sanctuary” for years. With the help of NEOEDD, they’ve started to focus their collective minds on what a “sanctuary” would be. A place outside of town, with a house or other structure that could serve as an office and storage. Perhaps a barn that could house kennels for stray and adoptable dogs, and quarters for kitties. Perhaps a pasture and shelter for rescued horses and other livestock. And definitely room for a very large fenced area where dogs, and their people could go for exercise and a romp. There are some drawings, some tentative sketch maps. And lots of lists.

The vision, inspired by Best Friends Animal Shelter in Kanab, Utah, is not entirely clear yet, but it is emerging. Admittedly, the Best Friends model may be a bit expansive for a start. The Kanab, Utah shelter owns 3700 acres and leases another 17,000 acres of federal and state land that is mostly red-rock desert. About 30,000 people visit every year to meet (and adopt) some of the 1600 animals, and tour the facilities, which include DogTown, CatWorld, HorseHaven, PiggyParadise, and BunnyHouse. It is more than a sanctuary. This vast no-kill shelter on the brink of Grand Canyon country is a substantial tourist attraction.

When the Humane Society moved from their old digs to the new one, a lot of volunteers, including lots of men and pickups, appeared to help transport furnishings from Second Best, and materials from the existing WCHS building on River Street. The new place provides greater potential for earning funds, and a higher profile. The fact that this opportunity, a stepping stone to a some-day sanctuary, suddenly manifested itself shows that dreams can come true, even if they do so slowly.

“The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around in overalls looking like hard work” (Thomas Edison). Well, when they were moving stuff from Second Best and the old offices, it sure looked like most every WCHS volunteer was wearing overalls. We look forward to the new HQ, the thrift store, and clean(er) dogs. And someday, that sanctuary. “Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them,” John Updike.

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