Wilkins loves animals, gardening

Katherine Wade

Until five years ago, Deborah Wilkins had never owned a dog.

Now Wilkins, chief of staff and general counsel, spends a lot of her down time walking or playing with her two Shepard mix dogs, Mick and Kal.

“I love them. I’ve really gotten attached to them,” Wilkins said.

When she and her husband moved out to the country and bought 10 acres of land, Wilkin’s husband, JR, decided they should get a dog.

“Both of us like animals, but we had lived in town for 15 years,” he said. “When we moved, we had ample room to take care of one.”

At the time, he worked as the supervisor of the animal control part of the Bowling Green Police Department.

Wilkins asked the officers to let him know if they came across Shepard mix puppies. A few months later, he came home with two puppies.

“They weren’t in good condition,” Deborah Wilkins said. “They just hadn’t been taken care of.”

JR Wilkins said now the dogs are like their kids.

“We just like to enjoy their company,” he said. “We’ll take them for walks, play fetch with them, or just watch them play.”

Deborah Wilkins said she had a cat several years ago that passed away at age 15.

“He was a great cat,” she said. “And when he passed I was just devastated. You would have thought a family member died.

“You always say, ‘I’m not going through that again,’ but you always do, and there are always animals that need homes.”

Wilkins said she is an all-around animal person.

“I just love animals, all kinds,” she said. “I feed the squirrels, the chipmunks… I can’t stand to kill anything because I’m afraid I’ll be reincarnated.”

When she’s outside and she’s not playing with the dogs, Wilkins said she also loves to keep a garden.

Wilkins has vegetables, flowers and a wide variety of uncommon shrubs in her garden, she said.

Wilkins said her interest in gardening may have been sparked by her work in a plant shop in high school. Now she cooks and eats the vegetables she grows and decorates with the flowers and other plants.

Wilkins’ office is filled with plants she’s grown, including a spider plant, and she often gives them as gifts. All the plants that decorate President Gary Ransdell’s office were donated by Wilkins.

Doing crossword puzzles and reading are also some of Wilkins’ favorite activities. She said she often reads multiple books at a time.

Currently, she is working on three books — a biography of Cleopatra, a book about serial killer Ted Bundy titled “The Only Living Witness” and a book of scary stories she used to love in the eighth grade.

“I always liked scary stories when I was a kid, so that’s probably why I read these,” she said.

Wilkins said she also loves scary movies, like the Paranormal Activity series.

Before starting at her position at WKU 17 years ago, Wilkins was in private practice with a law firm in Bowling Green.

“One day the senior partner came in and said, ‘We need someone to take on WKU’s legal work. You do it,’” she said.

At the time, WKU didn’t have an in-house attorney. A few years later they re-established the position and Wilkins applied, got it, and has been at WKU ever since.