Dog wash benefits organization

by Jessica Steeno

Bonnie Cutkomp — golden retriever — sat patiently while a team of vet school students lathered and rinsed her shaggy body at the annual dog wash for charity Sunday on the St. Paul campus.
“She’s a water dog,” Ethel Cutkomp, Bonnie’s owner, said.
The dog wash, sponsored by Iams Pet Food International and Alpha Psi veterinary fraternity, was organized to benefit Helping Paws of Minnesota, an organization that trains dogs to be companions and service animals for the disabled.
The price to have a dog washed was $5 for small dogs and $10 for large ones.
Erik Jopp, first-year vet student and philanthropy chairman at Alpha Psi, organized the event. He said part of the wash’s purpose was to promote the veterinary school.
“It was done in the past and we wanted to keep it going,” Jopp said. “We figured it would be good to do something with animals, since that’s what we’re going into.”
“It’s for a good cause, to help the Paws program,” said John Kaya, first-year vet student and volunteer dog-washer.
“I think it’s just wonderful,” said Robin Marvel, director of volunteers at Helping Paws. “We’re always looking for support in any way we can.”
It takes two years to train a Helping Paws dog. Volunteers take the dogs into their homes and train them before giving them to physically disabled people. The dogs do many things for the disabled person ranging from switching lights off and on to retrieving objects for their owners.
“He pulls me in my manual wheelchair,” said Dorice Russell, owner of a Helping Paws dog.
Her dog, a golden Labrador named Hombre, was at the dog wash. But since he was working for Russell, he did not receive a bath.
Every dog but Hombre was rinsed with a warm water hose and then soaped and rinsed again. It took four volunteers to hold most of the dogs down.
“It’s like the Octopus Car Wash!” dog owner Lisa Myaya said. “Eight hands to serve you!”
Sara, a German shepherd and Labrador mix, didn’t fight being washed, except when other dogs were in the area.
“She likes people, but she’s not the greatest around other dogs,” owner Bill Veilleux said.