Charlie the wheelchair dog inspires upcoming Yacolt Mutt Strut event


With a new set of wheels, age is no longer holding back 13-year-old pug Charlie. The senior dog has rediscovered his love for exploration thanks to his wheelchair, courtesy of the Washington-based non-profit organization Church of Pug. Struggle-free walks with Yacolt’s Desireé Lorentz, his owner and local real estate agent, are possible again.

Inspired by Charlie and the Church of Pug, Lorentz has organized the Yacolt Mutt Strut Charity Walk/Run to benefit the Church of Pug. The event will take place from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at Yacolt Town Park.

Lorentz said she was spurred to action when the elderly Charlie’s health began to decline and he started dragging his back legs, earlier this year. Lorentz started searching for a solution to improve his quality of life and mobility. 

Getting a wheelchair properly fit for Charlie seemed a daunting challenge, however. A proper fit is critical for the pet’s health and comfort. 

“I had no idea what that process was,” Lorentz said.

She contacted the Church of Pug, an organization dedicated to helping dogs in need, who helped her determine the type and size of mobility aid Charlie needed. 

“Two hours later I had a tracking number for a wheelchair for my dog,” Lorentz said. “It made my heart so happy, and I was overwhelmed with emotion because it was so easy.”

It took time for Charlie to adjust to his wheelchair, Lorentz said. At first, he simply stood around. “They say that it goes one of two ways: It’s a bit of a struggle for the pet, or they just go along with it,” Lorentz said. Fortunately, love and treats helped Charlie quickly adapt to the new mobility aid. By his second or third time in the wheelchair, he had begun walking again.

Thankful for the improvement in Charlie’s quality of life, Lorentz decided to host a fundraiser to show appreciation for Church of Pug. Though this is the first Yacolt Mutt Strutt, event planning has gone smoothly, she said. Lorentz remarked that she has enjoyed the process. 

“I’m the only one organizing it, though I’ve had the support of the Church of Pug,” she said. 

She expressed gratitude to the town, sponsors and Mayor Katelyn Listek for their help and cooperation. 

“I’m excited to add one more event to our repertoire of in-town events.”

The Church of Pug offers free mobility aids to dogs in Washington. Additionally, the organization rescues, fosters and rehabilitates pugs and similar breeds in need. Their animals are adoptable to those within Washington, Oregon, Canada and beyond. People seeking aid, or a new companion, can browse their services and contact the charity via the website,

“The amount of time and energy she’s put into it is incredible, I can’t thank her enough,” said Toni Kelley, a longstanding volunteer for Church of Pug who has been Lorentz’s point of contact for the event. Kelley frequently organizes Church of Pug events and fundraisers and plans to attend the event personally.

The rescue mentioned rising healthcare costs for animals and a recent uptick in surrenders driving the need for increased support. 

“Surgeries are expensive, and a spay here is outrageous,” Kelley said. 

Many dogs who come to Church of Pug need intensive medical care, with some treatments costing thousands of dollars.

The greatest challenge for Mutt Strut has been finding participants. The 1.1-mile charity walk will begin at Yacolt Town Park and end at Yacolt Recreational Park. Participation cost is $30 per person via the fundraising platform RallyUp. 

“People can sign-up until the day of, though there may be a delay in their T-shirt order,” Lorentz said.

Yacolt Mutt Strut has received considerable support from local businesses. Sponsors and vendors will station themselves at the start of the walk, where participants and onlookers can purchase a variety of goods. On-site vendors include Dope Soap & Beauty, Baxter’s Brews, Nathan’s Woodcrafts, dōTERRA independent wellness advocate Angel Wasu and Nails with Nicole. 

Registered participants will leave the event with many souvenirs. Pointer Photography will provide a digital photo of participating pets. Participants will also receive a T-shirt and dog bandana from BG Embroidery. Additionally, there will be prize drawings for items donated by Aloha Natural Pet Supply, Swallowtail Leather, K-9 to Five Doggy Daycare and Spa, Vancouver Dog Walkers and Pet Wants.

The event is expected to attract local dog lovers Anyone who wants to support the community, dogs and Church of Pug is welcome, however. 

“We want everyone to come and participate. It’s supposed to be something for everyone,” said Lorentz. “It’s the perfect time to go out and meet your neighbors.”

For more event information, contact Desireé Lorentz at 360-953-0440 or visit the event website,