Julie Urke and ‘Smackers’ honored for therapy work

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

For Benson resident Julie Urke the benefits of working with her dog Smackers in canine a therapy program has been “unreal. It has filled a void in my life that I didn’t even know existed.” If Smackers could talk, he would he would echo her heart-felt sentiments.

Those she and Smackers work with see it the other way around - the two are filling voids in their lives, easy pain and loneliness, calming anxiety and fear, and providing companionship.

Her work with the Carris Health Rice Hospice Training program, and her outreach to others who need a therapy dog, earned Urke the 2018-2019 Outstanding Hospital Volunteer of the Year award from the Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary Department. It was presented at the at the VFW State Convention June 14 for her devotion to veterans.

Urke adopted two-year-old Smackers from the Humane Society of Swift County.  She had been severely abused. She was a timid, scared dog, who would cower and hid from noises, quick movements and men, Urke said.

“After several months of love and patience, she slowly started trusting and began coming out of her shell, forming a strong bond Urke. She would smack her lips when giving affection...thus earning name Smackers...


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