For the 5th annual Pet Partners World’s Largest Pet Walk presented by Wellness Pet Company, our Community Partner group Pet Partners of Greater Dallas is acting as the Walk Champion in honor and memory of one of their most dedicated volunteers, Carolyn Marr.
Carolyn Marr had a passion for animals and animal-assisted interventions . Her special interest in the human-animal bond began in childhood and continued with her employment at Terrell State Hospital in Terrell, TX. She was employed for almost 50 years in the Rehabilitation and Medical Records departments at the hospital. In the 1990s, she created and developed (with the help of two guinea pigs) an in-house, full-time animal-assisted therapy program.
In later years, she joined the Delta Society (as Pet Partners was then called) and was the co-founder of the therapy animal group A New Leash on Life (now Pet Partners of Greater Dallas).
Beginning with her beloved Dolly, a long-haired Chihuahua, and followed by the always spunky Gabby, a Pekingese mix, she believed in the healing benefits of animals and dedicated her life to that cause, serving as a handler, team evaluator, and volunteer instructor for Pet Partners. Her last Pet Partners teammate was Starbuck, a Holland lop rabbit, and she also had Lana, a Flemish giant rabbit, in training.
Carolyn also initiated the presence of animals in her church, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Garland, TX. Working with her pastor and friend, Chuck Hubbard, Carolyn arranged for several Pet Partners teams and their dogs to attend church services regularly, bringing their gentleness and comfort to so many church members. The dogs even marched up to the altar to take communion from Pastor Hubbard. New members of Pet Partners were also invited to participate in a Commissioning Service, where they would be blessed by Pastor Hubbard and given a special blue embroidered bandanna as they entered the world of volunteering, bringing joy and smiles to the most vulnerable populations within the community.
Carolyn’s partners Dolly, Gabby, and Starbuck joined her in visits to the Frisco Independent School District participating in Pet Partners Read With Me™ program for several years. They also visited nursing homes and attended special promotional events for Pet Partners.
At one special event, Carolyn went to a nursing home in Rowlett, TX at Christmas. Dolly was so cute perched in her little basket. Who could resist petting and loving her? After they visited with several residents in the community room, Pam, another handler, overheard a few of the residents bragging to each other. One of them reported that she got to pet Dolly, while the next one snorted about that being nothing—she actually got to hold Dolly! So many memories happened over the years and brought many smiles and laughter to those who were visited by Carolyn and her partners.
Carolyn Marr passed away on September 27, 2021, at the age of 76, just days after supporting Pet Partners by participating in the 4th Annual World’s Largest Pet Walk. In memory of Carolyn, Pet Partners of Greater Dallas is honored to be recognized as the 2022 Walk Champion and to participate in the World’s Largest Pet Walk on Saturday, September 24, 2022.
To those of us who had the opportunity to meet Carolyn, be mentored by her as an evaluator and instructor, and learn from her vast experience and knowledge, she is remembered with love and affection. She always had the patience and time to teach us more about the human-animal bond and encouraged us to work closely with our animals to become the best therapy animal teams we could be.
Through helping and giving we find our best selves, and Carolyn demonstrated that through all her activities. We’re grateful for her dedicated work with animals and her commitment to Pet Partners.