Pay It Forward salutes a volunteer dog-walking Davenport teen

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DAVENPORT, Iowa -- This is about a daughter, dog and delightful friendship.

"It's a nice day," said Mackenzie Ryder, 16.

It's pretty nice, indeed, for Mackenzie and Dixie, a friendly 9-year-old labrador retriever.

"Come, girl," she said.

They make the rounds a few times each week for Julie Jurkowski, who is recovering from surgery and other medical issues.

"That's perfect," she said.  "I can do that."

While she volunteers to walk Dixie for an older neighbor, it's growing into much more.

"The winter was kind of hard," Mackenzie continued.  "And I noticed she would be down a lot.  I would try to come over as much as I could just to see how she was doing and check up on her."

That's why Julie's Pay It Forward nomination prompted a special visit recently.

"I know what Mackenzie is doing is having a positive impact in your life," said Ascentra Credit Union's Travis Kershaw.  "That's why we at Ascentra are proud to give you $300, so you can Pay It Forward."

Moments later, Mackenzie is getting a big surprise.

"On behalf of WQAD and Ascentra Credit Union, I'm Paying It Forward for you to continue work with the wonderful, compassionate things that you do for me and the community," said Julie.

Even though it's summer vacation, the patter of paws will continue for Mackenzie and Dixie.  The straight-A student at Davenport West High plans a nursing career.

"Just being able to make someone's life a lot more easier or different, it means a lot to me," Mackenzie said.

Julie says that Mackenzie is a great inspiration for other teens.

"She knows that I care about her," she concluded.  "She's become like a daughter to me."

It's a daughter, dog and delightful friendship.




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