How to verify firebase realtime DB authentication status?

I am looking for a way to tell if my app is currently authenticated to the realtime DB.
Everything works great when the rules are set for public .read and .write are true but
when I set the rules to only allow reading and writing by authenticated users it wont write to the DB. everything behaves as I want it to in the rules playground but when I try to write from app it doesn't. I thought there should be a way to check the contents of auth and make sure it's not null. I created and verified an account with my app and it signed in ok.
I am trying to write to the Walkie node and nodes under it. rules and db write block below.
Thanks for your help. -Jeff