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2024 Walk Champion: Diane Alexander

Diane Alexander
Pet Partners Handler
A group of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona volunteers pose with several therapy dogs.
A group of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona volunteers pose with several therapy dogs.
A photo of Diane Alexander, Pet Partners handler, and her dog Bindi.
Diane Alexander and Bindi.

Our many paths to therapy animal work are as varied as we are. Here is my “origin” story.

I have many fond memories of the pets I grew up with. While I was working, I found it easier to have cats. When I started working for myself and was home more, I added dogs back into my life. Most of these wonderful companions were re-homed or rescued pups.

I came back to Tucson from Los Angeles in 2004 to take care of my dad who had turned ninety that year. Our “blended” family included his 4th Standard Poodle and my Miniature Poodle mix and three cats. Both my dad and his beloved dog passed away early in 2009. I knew by then that I wanted to get another dog and that I wanted a Standard Poodle. I contacted Arizona Poodle Rescue and by June 2009, I had adopted a 2-year-old white female who came with the perfect name -Ella.

A good friend (a mental health professional) after meeting Ella said, “she would make a great therapy dog.” That comment started me on a journey that continues today. Ella and I became a registered team with Pet Partners in 2011. We volunteered in many types of facilities including our community hospital, programs for at risk youth, and our federal prison.

In addition to therapy animal visits, I really love collaborating with people by participating in the creation of and the management of our Community Partner. Nothing makes me happier than filling requests from the community for teams to visit. I love it when I get a special request and I can find the right team to fill it from our membership. And I get to meet many great dogs (and a few kitties, a rabbit, and a mini horse!)
There is something special about people who volunteer to share the love they have for their animals with others. It is a nurturing and affirming group.

Bindi, a tan miniature labradoodle, and Ella, a white standard poodle, sit together on a couch with bandanas representing the University of Arizona.
Ella and Bindi

I lost my little Poodle mix when Ella was about nine. My vet suggested that Ella was at a good age to add another dog to the family. Bindi, an Australian line mini-Labradoodle, was born in March of 2016 and came home on Mother’s Day 8 weeks later. Ella loved her immediately and mentored her in many life-skills (where the ideal spot was in the back yard, how to look adorable for extra treats, etc.)

I always hoped that Bindi would also be a therapy dog. In March of 2022, I retired Ella who was then fifteen. I knew that this was the time to get serious about Bindi’s training. In August of 2022 we passed our Evaluation and became a Pet Partners team. Bindi has grown into the job, and she gets excited when the vest goes on. She knows what that means.

We are honored to be the National Walk Champions for the 2024 World’s Largest Pet Walk presented by Wellness Pet Company. Bindi and I will walk with members of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona to raise awareness of the key role we play in the health and well-being of Tucson and southern Arizona communities.