It’s impossible to say just how many dogs Patty Krosch has walked in her 14 years as a Humane Society of Missouri volunteer—hundreds, maybe thousands. Krosch volunteers three mornings a week for two to three hours each time, showing up in extreme heat, pouring rain, and on holidays. “The dogs still need to get out,” she says.
Krosch is a retired business owner and elementary school teacher from New York. She and her husband moved to St. Louis in 1980, and Krosch taught in University City before opening her own women’s retail store, Pappagallo, at the Galleria and Chesterfield Mall. “After I stopped working, I volunteered in the [Humane Society] gift shops one day a week,” she says. “I figured, I know retail, I can manage the cash register. I really wasn’t sure I could handle working directly with the dogs. I didn’t know if I would get sad or try to bring them all home, so I just did the gift shops for a while.”
After volunteering for a year, Krosch joined the first class of Pet Pals, a group of volunteers who work directly with the dogs. Pet Pals work in three groups—walking, training and enrichment—to make sure the dogs are well-rounded and ready to be adopted. Initially, Krosch says, there were about five walkers, whose goal was to get each dog out on a walk once a week. Now, each dog goes on a walk twice a day. They also have enrichment time, where they play with toys and puzzles, get groomed or just play with the volunteers, as well as beds, blankets and toys in their kennels.
Krosch says most people don’t realize how important the Humane Society of Missouri is for the community. Those who have been to third-world countries and seen stray dogs and feral cats running around the streets understand why the organization is so necessary. “The people here really care about animals, and they really do put the animals first,” she says. “The people who work here are not getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. This is a labor of love.”
Walking the dogs can be physically exhausting, Krosch says, but it’s great exercise and better than going to the gym. She remembers one dog, Petey, a hound mix, who needed extra-long walks to get work out of all of his energy. On one of the walks, Krosch discovered one of Petey’s loves: watching traffic. “I sat on the wall at Oakland and Midland one day with him just to stop for myself and sit for a minute, and he was mesmerized,” she says. “I never saw him so happy. It got so [that] he would know if we were coming near that spot, he would pull me up the street ‘cause he figured out if he could just get over the hill, he could see the highway and maybe he’d get to sit for a minute. So Petey and I would go sit on the wall and watch the traffic on 40. He loved it, and it was good for him. It kept his brain engaged.”
When she’s not walking dogs, Krosch stays active in the community in other ways. She serves on the Humane Society’s Friends Council, which organizes fundraisers such as Bark in the Park, and Purses and Pumps for Pooches and Pals. She’s also been a member of Forest Park Forever for more than 25 years, and was an active member in the Women’s Committee. She volunteers in the organization’s office once a week, and helps with various activities and events throughout the year. Krosch and her husband, a founding board member of Forest Park Forever, are in the park almost every day, volunteering, exercising or walking their Afghan hound, Buster.
“I just hope to be able to keep walking dogs as long as possible,” Krosch says. “When I can’t physically manage that, I’ll stay involved…either working in the education department or through enrichment or training.”