Adopt Don't Shop

Make A Four-Legged Friend, Improve Your Mental Health

Article by Myra Simmons McEntire

Photography by Christy Hunter

Originally published in Brentwood Lifestyle

Kathryn Hurley-Dhall, executive director of the Nashville chapter of Wags & Walks, advocates rescue as the go-to option for anyone interested in having a dog as a pet. Wags & Walks is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a dedicated community of dog lovers working to reduce euthanasia in local shelters and increase awareness of rescue dogs being wonderful pets. They are dedicated to giving adopters and fosters the best experience possible, and believe there is a dog for everyone. Read more to find out all about them and how Brentwood Lifestyle readers can help.

How did Wags & Walks Nashville start?

"After working for our Los Angeles branch for 4+ years, my husband and I moved to Nashville. While the plan was to work for LA remotely, it became apparent that Nashville was in need of another strong rescue partner. The shelters were overcrowded, and amazing dogs were suffering. It ended up feeling like fate when we found an abandoned pit bull and her puppies, and I never looked back."

What made you want to make this available to the public? 

"Wags & Walks wants to showcase that rescue is for everyone. Many people have different ideas of what rescue looks like to them, and it’s not always positive. Our goal is to show people that rescue dogs are amazing and to spread awareness that anyone can find their perfect match with Wags & Walks. We also want to balance the fun energy with highlighting that the South is truly in a crisis and that rescue should be the only option when millions of dogs are still dying in shelters every year."

Do you have any life-changing personal dog stories?

"Meeting my dog, Jax. Although I have four pups now, Jax was my first love. We rescued him from a neglectful home; we knew he was ours.  I grew up with small dogs, and adopting a pit bull mix was not something most young adults were doing, but my husband and I knew the best way to change stigmas was to give first-hand experiences to our friends and family. He is the driving force behind everything I do and has changed more minds and hearts than I could have ever imagined."

What's the greatest match-up you've ever made? 

"Oh, so many. This feels impossible to answer, but it has to be Pickles. He was a big ol’ pittie that was slated to be euthanized for no reason other than he was big, a pit bull, and liked tennis balls (maybe a little too much!) We were told over and over he was going to be dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted, but we knew they were wrong. He has been living with small kids and other dogs for years and is a cherished member of their family." 

How have you seen dogs help with people's mental health? 

"I’ve seen dogs improve people’s mental health and are a major factor in changing people’s lives, if not saving them. The unconditional love and bond that dogs show us can heal people on a level that is hard to put into words. Caring for dogs and the responsibility and dedication that you show them is always matched tenfold. It’s magical."

What are your recommendations for those thinking about fostering/adopting?

"Fostering is the easiest way to save two lives. The life of the dog that you are fostering and the open kennel that provides for a new dog at the shelter. Overcrowding in shelters results in euthanasia, and fostering is the most direct way to impact that. Wags & Walks asks for a two-week commitment (everyone can do anything for two weeks!), is cost-free, and we have an incredible support system for you. Plus, anyone interested in adopting can get a real feel for if they are ready for a lifetime commitment."


"Our goal is to find every pup an adopter."

"Fostering is easiest way to save two lives."

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