(photo fair use from examiner.com)

8 German Shepherds need homes…


Wally Swanson, the founder of Camp Wolfgang, a German Shepherd rescue, died last week.  Services were held today, in Minnesota!   He closed down Camp Wolfgang in October of 2009, and after that, keeping only a few dogs as health issues made it difficult for him to keep up.  When I first learned of Camp Wolfgang, there were over 300 dogs he was caring for, and I’d thought that when Ken and Krie died, I’d get a dog from Camp Wolfgang, but he closed it before then.  The GSD rescue world was scrambling when he shut down working to accommodate over 120 GSDs and other dogs, but they did it, all the dogs who needed homes were adopted out or sent to rescues across the country.

He also founded a program called “Paws in Prison” where local prisoners worked with dogs, training the dogs for future adopters (and training themselves in the process).  Here’s a blog post about a 2007 Paws in Prison graduation:

Paws in Prison Graduation – December 20, 2007


In the STrib:

Wallace Martin Swanson

Swanson, Wallace Martin 69, passed away at home on June 23 after an extended battle with respiratory illness. Wally was born August 22, 1941 in Fergus Falls, Minnesota to Marvin Swanson and Mary Lindsey Swanson. He was the grandson of Judge and Mrs. Wallace H. Lindsey, Sr. of Alabama and Martin Swanson, born in Norway, and Julia Falk Swanson. He attended Fergus Falls High School and then attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota immediately after graduation for a summer semester in 1959. He subsequently attended The University of Minnesota, from which he graduated with honors in 1962 at age 20. Wally received a law degree, with honors, from the Southern Methodist University School of Law, where he served as the Leading Articles editor of ‘The Southwestern Law Journal.’ He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Tau Omega, Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity and the Order of Barristers. After beginning his legal career in 1965 with a focus on banking and securities law at the Dallas firm of Coke & Coke, Wally, along with Art Hewett, John Johnson, and Lin Barbee, co-founded the firm initially named Hewett Johnson Swanson & Barbee and, later, Johnson & Swanson.

While at that firm for more than 18 years, Wally and his partners grew the firm from five lawyers to one of the most prominent law firms in Texas with over 250 attorneys in offices in Dallas, Austin, Houston, Washington D.C., and Berlin. In addition to his involvement in the growth and development of Johnson & Swanson’s general business, Wally was a practicing attorney concentrating his practice upon corporate and securities matters, including the representation of both underwriters and issuers in public offerings, involvement iin mergers, acquisitions and the negotiation of transactions involving privately held businesses. While also practicing law, he co-founded and was involved in the management of the Village companies, which was one of the largest investors in real estate in the Park Cities area of Dallas for much of the 1980’s. Wally was also among those instrumental in organizing Ace Cash Express, Inc., which in 1987 purchased the check cashing and related businesses from the Associates Corporation of North America. He served as the Chairman and CEO of Ace through 1988, and remained there as a Director until 1995. In 1990, he organized State Street Capital Corporation, which, together with its affiliates, purchased more than 3,000 loans from the RTC, FDIC, and other financial institutions. In 2000, Wally moved from Dallas to Ennis to pursue his dream of establishing Camp Wolfgang – a non-profit organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement in loving homes of at-risk German Shepherd Dogs. Named after his beloved pet Wolfgang, Camp Wolfgang successfully placed over 2,000 dogs, all of which were saved from certain death or continued misery. Wally was a member of the Texas, Dallas, and American Bar Associations, was inducted into the Texas Bar Foundation in 1984, and has been included numerous times in ‘The Best Lawyers in America.’ He served on the Council of the Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section of the State Bar of Texas and was also a member and Chairman of the Securities Committee of that Section. Wally’s playful manner, unique use of the English language, and huge heart were known by all who knew him. The following excerpt from an article that appeared in ‘American Lawyer’ magazine describes Wally perfectly: “Around the firm, Swanson is known for his flowery manner of speaking. I always tell him, ‘Swanson, anytime you have a chance to use a nickel word you use a fifty-cent word instead’, a fellow partner says. Instead of saying he doesn’t understand something, he’ll say, ‘that’s less than abundantly clear.’ You need a Ph.D in literature to follow him.” Wally was a member of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. He was preceded in death by his parents, Marvin Swanson and Mary Lindsey Swanson, and is survived by two children, Kristen Lindsey Swanson and husband George Dimitri, Eric Munger Swanson and wife Kara, and grandson Charles Munger Swanson. A graveside funeral is planned for 10:30 am on Wednesday, June 29, at Richville Cemetery in Richville, Minnesota. A Memorial Service will be held in Dallas at the Cox Chapel at Highland Park United Methodist Church on July 7 at 10 am. The family suggests that memorials be to Operation Kindness at 3201 Earhart Drive, Carrollton, TX 75006 or a favorite charity.
From examiner.com:

Wally Swanson, who operated Camp Wolfgang German Shepherd Rescue outside Ennis, passed away last week.  Swanson, a former Highland Park attorney, founded Camp Wolfgang in 2001.  He placed over 2,000 dogs in its first 8 years.

In 2007, Wally teamed up with the Paws In Prison program, a program designed to teach inmates a skill that can be useful after their release.  Camp Wolfgang supplied the dogs, who were then housed with inmates at the Sanders Estes Unit prison in Venus, Texas.  The inmates taught the dogs basic obedience, increasing their appeal to potential adopters, while they learned skills that would benefit them after prison.

In 2009, however, Camp Wolfgang was forced to close due to Wally’s poor health and declining donations.   At it’s peak – there were nearly 400 dogs housed there.  Local dog trainer and rescuer J.P. Bonnelly, had this to say about Swanson, “While there was often controversy about Wally’s rescue efforts, no one can deny that hundreds of dogs went on to live wonderful lives because of him”.

Wally had been hospitalized most of this year, but spent his final days at home with his personal German Shepherds.   With his passing, those dogs, mostly seniors, need to find new homes.  They are:

Henry & Lucy – 8 year old bonded pair surrendered by a Vietnam Vet who was moved into a nursing home.

Storm & Thunder – 9 year old siblings

Miranda –  6-7 years old and lived most of her life in a kennel until coming to Camp Wolfgang

Bruno – also 6-7 years old

Ivan – (adopted Sunday!)

Abbey – a Lab/Shepherd mix


Dallas Animal Services’ Rescue Coordinator Mark Cooper worked with Wally for five years.  “Wally had his rough side, but underneath his rough exterior, he was a very compassionate man who devoted his life to saving dogs from shelters, as well as owner surrenders, and stray dogs that where lucky enough to cross his path.”

Wally will be laid to rest in Minnesota, but the family is planning a memorial for his Texas friends shortly thereafter.  For more information on the remaining German Shepherds in need of new homes, call 469-337-7370.

2 Responses to “Camp Wolfgang’s founder Wally Swanson has died”

  1. Tango Says:

    There will never be another Wally Swanson. We are the proud pet parents of a very regal male GSD that was rescued from the euthanasia list at Dallas Animal Services because of Wally and Camp Wolfgang. Wally was a great friend and we will miss him dearly.

    – Bekki & Brian Harvey
    Dallas, Texas

  2. jason michael Says:

    Walley Swanson was a great man. I’m so sorry to hear the world has lost one of its true hero’s. I’m sitting with the gift Walley gave me 7 years ago. His name is Jack. he’s about 9 years old now, and every day I thank Walley for bringing him into my life, and for saving so many beautiful animals. I will always hold Walley dear to my heart.

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