North Dakota


Love on a Leash®

The Bismarck chapter of Love on a Leash was officially founded in April of 2020; we are the only chapter in either of the Dakotas! We have regularly-scheduled visits at 5 senior facilities and a youth center. We welcome invitations to visit at local nursing homes, hospitals, libraries, and schools; we also attend the local college & university stress-reducing finals weeks each semester. Our chapter members often visit independently as well as participating in group visits.

Renee, Clancy, Mac & Annie
Renee, Clancy, Mac & Annie
Lynn with her pack

Meet Our Leaders

Renee Maruska retired after working 30 years in elementary libraries; she lives in Mandan, North Dakota and is a proud Grandma of 5. When she isn't volunteering, Renee is kept busy with yard work and upkeep on their rural home on the Dakota prairie. Renee first certified with Clancy the Goldendoodle in 2018 and then Mac the Standard Poodle joined the Love on a Leash family in 2020. Clancy especially enjoys helping out at the Reading program at the local library, while Mac is happiest at senior facilities. Seeing what a wonderful impact that the dogs had, a new puppy was added to the pack. Annie, a Standard Poodle, will work toward her LOAL certification in 2024. Renee's favorite part of volunteering with Love on a Leash is seeing the reactions and smiles that the dogs bring to seniors in memory care and residential facilities. Many seniors have spent their lives on farms and love having an animal to pet and talk to. Also, a great part of volunteering is making new friends in the LOAL group.
Renee Maruska
Chapter Leader
Lynn Kurtz is a retired Animal Control Warden, and before she was a llama breeder and trainer. Lynn lives in Bismarck with her husband Todd, their 7 dogs, 3 cats and a chinchilla. The kids have all flown the nest, so Lynn decided to explore dog training, which she's always wanted to do. From there she delved into pet therapy and is loving it! When she isn't volunteering, Lynn enjoys training her dogs and helping others connect more with their dogs. Lynn first certified with Beau, the Australian Shepherd in 2018; Skye, the Golden Retriever joined the LOAL family in 2020 and Sweet Bella (aka Blondie) the Rough Coat Collie certified in 2023. Each of the therapy dogs have their favorite venues-Beau enjoys hospitals and schools with younger kids, Skye especially likes the colleges and nursing homes, and Blondie is just excited to go! Lynn's favorite part of volunteering with Love on a Leash is seeing the joy on people’s faces wherever the dogs go, and bringing comfort to those who want and need it! We also have a terrific group of volunteers and it’s great working and training together; Lynn truly enjoys the terrific friendships that she has with other volunteers.
Chapter Leader

Chapter Information


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