Ramblings From The Ranch
By Christina Bennett
A Place for Everyone
Lisa McCary volunter
“Now’s a great time to volunteer at The Ranch. You can get out of the house, be outside, not close to people ... and do something to help the dogs,” says Gale Park. A serious back injury prevents Gale from walking very much, but she is great at “loving up puppies.” Gale helps socialize the many litters of pups at The Ranch. She cuddles them, plays with them, and has also started the youngsters on leash training. She adores seeing their excitement and curiosity when they come out of their kennels to interact with her, and she knows that a friendly, leash-trained puppy will be more attractive to adopters.
Lisa McCary, a volunteer for over five years, started her journey when she read an article like this in the Ojo! She hesitated to reach out and visit the Ranch because she feared it might be heartbreaking to see abandoned dogs. “But,” Lisa said, “one day I went and it was a wonderful, happy place!”
“The dogs are our guests and it’s our job to make them happy and healthy so they can be adoptable and find their forever homes. Many of the dogs have experienced stress and trauma. But there is a magic that happens with the volunteers. Those dogs learn to trust again and to become candidates for adoption,” Lisa said
“Other than safety rules, no one tells you what to do at the Ranch. Everyone has the freedom to do what they feel comfortable with to help the dogs — whether it’s walking, cleaning, or sitting quietly with traumatized dogs. I like being part of the team—human and four-footed,” she said. “I love every day I am at The Ranch!”
“I love the exercise and being out in nature,” said Corrine Kelly. “I’m not much for administrative things but give me a shovel and pile of poop and I can go all day!” Corrine has volunteered for over ten years. “My favorite moments are when someone sees something in a dog that everyone passes by—and they fall in love.”
During her many years, Corrine has developed a social network with other Ranch volunteers and feels very supported by the Ranch managers. She says that they take their role seriously, care about the volunteers and always do what’s best for the dogs.
Perhaps one of the most unique volunteers is retired professional photographer Bruce Dugdale. Bruce’s photos of Ranch dogs have led to a large increase in adoptions from US rescue groups. Bruce photographs an average of 15 dogs on each visit, working with fabulous volunteer model and dog handler Arely. He originally visited as a dog walker and quickly realized that his professional skills were desperately needed.
Bruce’s mission is to make the dogs look happy, and as gorgeous as possible, so that they are chosen for adoption. Sometimes this is a challenge when a dog is fearful, or missing an eye or limb, but his photo skills make those dogs attractive too. Bruce has found his time at The Ranch rewarding and has enjoyed making friends with other volunteers.
“If you love dogs, there is something you can do for The Ranch,” Bruce says.
Corrine echos that, using the words of Mother Teresa: “We can all do small things with great love. No matter what your physical condition, income, or skill level, there is something you can do to help the Ranch dogs.”
Those small things include cooking soup for the dogs; fostering; driving dogs to the airport; fundraising; or hands-on walking, snuggling, or training dogs.
There are so many opportunities to make a difference. Reach out to see where you might fit in. You‘ll be oriented by a manager, staff member or experienced volunteer — and before you know it, you’ll be making a difference in the lives of many dogs.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com