When Agape Dos was in the planning stages, Lori Nieters and Paul Wilkin became aware of the “AIDS house” that was being built on their block. “It really interested us both, but we were too busy to become involved at that time.”

Meet Lori Nieters and Paul Wilkin

It wasn’t until years later that Lori and Paul stopped to talk to Jon, a resident of Agape Dos who was out in the yard with Flash, the house beagle. Jon was talking about how chubby she was and that the vet had prescribed more exercise. Lori and Paul walked their two dogs every night anyway and they offered to add Flash to the mix. The affair began right then and there.

What began as an occasional jaunt around a block has morphed into a wonderful long-term commitment to Flash and Agape Dos. “We don’t have kids,” says Lori. “Not the two-legged kind anyway, so we lavish that attention on our dogs, including Flash. Some of the dog accoutrements are expensive so we help when we can.” Michael Brey, lead caregiver at Agape Dos, praises Lori and Paul. “They aren’t just dog walkers. Sometimes it is all we can do to keep up with the needs of our residents. They keep an eye on Flash and her health; they brought it to our attention that she was slowing down and limping a lot.” Sure enough, Flash was diagnosed with arthritis and is now on glucosamine and baby aspirin. “They take care of Flash so that Flash can take care of some of the emotional needs of the residents.”

They even take Flash on occasional field trips. A month ago Lori took Flash to Pet Smart to get a new leash and look at winter booties. “No dog likes to walk in the cold, especially one with arthritis,” commented Lori. “It was just the two of us and Flash was so excited, sniffing around the store with her tail wagging. Flash actually smiles when she is happy!”

The Animal Humane Society is Lori and Paul’s other volunteer activity; where they are involved in a foster care program. “Of course we want to keep every kitten and puppy we take care of,” gushes Lori, “but so far we have only added one cat named Floyd.” Flash serves as a sort of cousin to the Nieter-Wilkin family. And what about that weight problem Flash exhibited earlier? She is still carrying around lots of extra weight. According to her vet, every dog has a job. Flash’s job is to comfort the residents. If that means eating the food they just can’t seem to stop offering to her, well, so be it. In the meantime, Lori and Paul will do all they can to see that Flash remains happy, healthy and well exercised.