What is a labor of love? It is doing what your heart calls you to do. Sometimes it is loving the discarded of society, the unloveable, the sick, the crazy ones, and the abused ones. For many good souls, that labor of love involves aiding one's Fellow Man. Loving our neighbor as ourselves, as we are commanded to do.
For others, that calling was not for Man, but for the lesser beings of God's creation. I know such a man. One whose heart and soul have been torn by a dog. A man whose life revolves around the kennel--not for breeding dogs, not for sale, but to house and love and care for the discarded dogs our society produces.
The life of a small scale rescue is driven by the dogs and their needs (though how anyone could think that 50 dogs is small scale is beyond me). Food, housing, vet bills...working with the dogs, taming the wild ones, soothing the crazy ones, teaching the unlearned ones how to behave in the human world. All this takes time, especially when someone has to hold down a regular job that pays the bills.
And what bills! I knew the vet bills would be large. How could it not? 50 dogs require flea treatments, heart worm treatments, rabies shots, annual vaccinations against the myriad of canine diseases. Even with the generous "rescue discounts" that some vets will offer, the bills are simply staggering. Add to it the surgery some Rhodesian Ridgebacks require to repair (if possible) a genetic defect called Dermoid Sinus. It all adds up, into the tens of thousands of dollars a year.
A typical day at the Ranch goes something like this--get up by 4am, turn out the 50+ dogs to do their business, clean out the kennel runs, fill the water buckets, bring in the dogs in feeding groups for their morning meals. After everyone is done, run them all back outside for a couple hours outdoor time. Then by noon, bring them all back inside, to avoid the heat of the day, do a poop patrol in the outdoor pens, grab some food for yourself and a short nap in the hot afternoon, because you will be up until around midnight, repeating the morning's routine for the night time feeding...oh and don't forget, answering emails, fund raising, vet visits, working with some of the dogs for one on one attention and training...you get the idea. Then there is also the general maintenance needed by any homeowner. Oh and don't forget, you have a spouse to love and care about and care for, too...I don't know how they do it.
The goal of Rescue is to find the right home for the right dog. This is often difficult. People often balk at the adoption fees a rescue has to charge, just to cover their operating costs. People often balk at the application process, which can seem invasive at times. But they forget that some rescues will take that dog back, if you don't want it, can't care for it, divorce, whatever the reason, wherever the dog. Rescues also want to make sure the adopter is not going to misuse the dog--in Texas that often means being used as a hog-dog. In fact, that's how many RR's and RR mixes (often crossed with a pit bull) end up in rescue in the first place--the dog won't hunt.
Ridgebacks are fortunate in some ways in this country, in that they are NOT terribly popular on the dog breed scale. This limits somewhat, the backyard breeder aspect of overpopulation. But RR's are 'different' dogs. They're a Hound, first. The breed was developed to be independent, and as such, they will quickly dominate an indecisive owner. They're smart, and perfectly trainable, but the usual methods work poorly with a Ridgeback. They get bored with repetition-based training. They're stubborn as all get-out. You have to mix it up, if you have a Ridgie, and keep it short too.
I spent my weekend manning the booth at the Celina Balloon Festival. No hot air balloons were in evidence sadly, as the wind never did die down enough for them to safely launch a single balloon all weekend long. The event however, was great, for the organizers had set up a special place for many area Rescues to set up booths, and show off dogs for adoption and to educate the public about rescue, and in our case, about Rhodesian Ridgebacks in particular.
|African Lion Hounds|
A medical emergency had thrown everyone's plans into disarray, but we pulled together and soldiered on, manning the booth for two full days in the late summer heat. Volunteers walked and watered dogs. Some kind folks donated cash and a few potential adopters were identified and encouraged to apply. A couple of the dogs we brought were highly popular with the crowd, and a couple more showed well, and were on their best behavior (always a plus!). I hope that homes for those dogs will come as a result.
|A volunteer dog walker|
There was even a sense of humor by day two, where I found a 6-pack carrier of Ridgeback Ale to place on the booth table...by the time I went home last night, I was ready for a beer and a nap!
|Yes, that is Ridgeback Ale!|
If you have it in your heart to donate to dog rescue, please find one in your area and give what you can, be it time, or money or supplies. If you love the Ridgeback breed (mixed or pedigreed) like I do, feel free to follow this LINK and there on the main page you will find a Paypal button or two for financial donations, and contact information for the rescue I work with, if there are other ways you want to help. I thank you all, for anything you give, be it time, or money or prayers.