Ramblings From The Ranch
By Christina Bennett
How to Find Your Next Best Friend
When we exit the car for our volunteer shift at The Ranch, we hear the barking. It’s our friends, waiting to see us. We fill our pockets with the biscuits we have brought and start saying hello.
The first kennel is full of puppies! Ten, I think. They are starting to get big. When you don’t know the puppies’ parents, you can only guess what they will turn into. These might end up being German Shepherds.
Next to the puppies, are the two scared black dogs and their friendly spotted kennel-mate. Those two wouldn’t come out of their dog house for weeks, but now one of them is taking treats from my hand. The time and patience of the Ranch staff and volunteers work magic with terrified dogs. Hopefully, these two will soon be going for walks and will be ready to join a family.
We pass by more kennels of puppies. How I wish more people would spay and neuter their pets! The fortunate puppies end up here and with other rescues. The others don’t fare so well.
After we walk through all the kennels, giving out treats and pets, we grab our leashes. We greet the staff and other volunteers who are busy picking up poop, filling water buckets, giving medicines, or walking dogs. We get caught up on any news—new dogs, sick dogs, adoptions. Some days there is great news: ten dogs are flying this week! Or a long-term Ranch doggie got adopted! Other days, there is bad news: a vandal cut the water pipe last night and staff are trying to fix it! Or three sick dogs were abandoned at the gate and had to be rushed to the vet!
After catching up on news, we look at the clothes pins on the dogs’ names cards to see who has been walked recently and who needs a walk. We tend to focus on the bigger dogs who might be too strong or unruly for some of the other dog walkers.
Today, one of my dogs is Matilda. She is so tall I don’t have to bend down to pet her. She hasn’t been at The Ranch very long and is still too skinny. Another walkee today is Romeo. He’s a strong guy but walks super-nice on a leash once he’s out of the kennel area. Prada needs a walk, too. She’s a pudgy one and needs a bit of exercise … kind of like me. She gives me lots of kisses.
I take sweet Kendall out for a walk, too. She’s a little pittie mix who was abandoned at The Ranch shortly after having puppies. She’s a friendly happy girl who is ready for her forever family.
After all the walking, it’s time for feeding. Many of the dogs have come from situations where they had to fight for their food, so they need to be tied up for their lunch. They readily comply with this as they know the food is coming! All hands are on deck for the feeding process—one person putting the kibble in bowls, another ladling on some homemade soup, and then several carrying the bowls to the kennels.
Feeding the puppies is the most challenging! It’s important to make sure they all get to eat, as many litters have a bully who prevents some of the small ones from eating. It can be chaotic and comedic as they run from bowl to bowl, gobbling up their lunch.
After lunch, dogs are untied, bowls are picked up and washed. A volunteer or staff member makes a final pass through the kennels with a bucket of cookies. Everybody gets a cookie and we make sure they all look good, and their water buckets are filled.
The dogs are sated and the volunteers’ hearts are full, knowing we have each brought some joy to over one-hundred dogs waiting for their forever homes.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com