I can’t remember not wanting a pet. My mother offered me goldfish―I wasn’t satisfied. I pleaded until one day I got Smokey, a grey-and-black tabby cat. Smokey liked water and getting wet. On hot summer days he would relax under the lawn sprinkler. When he began hopping into the bathtub with me, Mom shut him out of the bathroom.
After Smokey passed away, my next pet was a fox-terrier mix I named Foxy. This clever terrier became my best friend―she followed me everywhere. I would get out my bike, settle her in the basket on my handlebars, and we’d explore the neighborhood. One day I hauled a six-foot ladder out of the garage, for some reason that I don’t remember. What I do remember was climbing that ladder with Foxy right behind me. When my mother found out, Foxy and I were forbidden to use the ladder.
However, there was one animal I could only dream about―horses. I read all the horse stories I could find. I dreamed of a black horse like Black Beauty, and a white horse like the Lone Ranger’s Silver.
When I left home, the business of life overtook me. I married, had children, and only one dog or one cat at a time. But I clung to my dream of a special place where I would be surrounded by animals.
When that marriage failed, I met a man named Dave. He was a country boy who had horses and dogs. We married on a day in July and in September we bought a ranch and moved in. My childhood dream was about to overtake me.
Immediately the abused and abandoned animals began arriving on the ranch. Necessity pushed my education into overdrive. I learned how to handle llamas, and remove the stink of their spit. How to use body language to communicate with horses. How to manage dogs and cats so they could co-exist.
My learning curve took another turn when my animals inspired me to become a professional writer. I often used their stories in many of the magazine articles I wrote. Dog and Kennel published Recognizing Epilepsy and continued to publish several of my articles for years. Mother Earth News published Boarding Horses Brings in Extra Cash.
I’ve also sold articles, and sometimes multiple articles, to various magazines ranging from Gardening How-To, Family Motor Coaching, and Hobby Farms, to the pharmaceutical publication, Applied Clinical Trials.
Then one day I got an idea. I wrote a short piece about one of my animals and took that piece to KLCC, our local NPR affiliate, to see if they would be interested it airing it. I was pleased when they said yes. “Reports From Menagerie Ranch” aired every other week for two years. I often had people asking me about a certain animal whose story they had heard on the radio.
Those stories became the catalysis that led me to realized that my best story was yet to be written. It took time, but Menagerie Ranch; the Miracles and Mayhem of Animal Rescue became a reality. When the book comes out, I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed living the life.