I was asked to write an article about my passion for rescuing animals in Baja. Of course, I said. I was honored to be asked to write for the Baja Times, and quite excited! But then the reality of this topic seeped into my psyche like a wisp of smoke. Truth is, and I have to be truthful, is that well, I used to be an animal-activist fraud. Let me explain.
As a child, I grew up with dogs. And I adored them. They slept with me, each and every one except for Muffin, a horrible fluffy Yorkie who hated me, and I him. Nasty temperament and arrogant disposition. Buttons was my favorite, a feisty miniature Manchester Terrier all of about 8 pounds. In my twenties, I had a little poodle /schnauzer mix, Ginger. But I was a stupid dog owner then, and she had two liters! I knew nothing about spay/neuter. In my 30’s, I got a boxer from a backyard breeder. Sweet but had the I. Q of a snail. Next was my Shepard mix, who was so loyal to me. He hated everybody else, especially my ex-husband. But that was just fine with me.
I had a Pitbull mix once. One of the sweetest dog in the world. But also the biggest coward on record for a pitty. I had a window prism in my kitchen, and when the sun came steaming through in the afternoons, showering the room with jewels of light, my pit would bark at them endless and try to catch them. I often wondered what went through her head that caused these beautiful reflections of iridescent light to scare her so.
So you see, I had many dogs, and I loved them dearly, but I certainly wasn’t anything close to a “dog whisperer” or animal activist! And as for cats...well, I just won’t even go there. Birds? I had one once. And that’s all I can say about that. I had fish! I love my aquarium. But fish aren’t really your friends, are they? I mean, they swim in their own poop!
My kids had a couple of hamsters when they were young, and I think one of them actually had a heart attack. It just fell off it’s wheel one day, and well, just never got back up? Yeah, we had a little fake funeral and all that, but did I feel sad? I guess, maybe, for a New York minute.
So as my years as an animal-activist fraud continued in the closet, and several more dogs came and went in my life, I started to spend more time in Baja. It was here that my sensibilities began the change. I became more aware of the sadness of the street dogs. These poor gentle creatures who survived on scraps and trash. I watched as they would subserviently sneak food from a taco stand, their wide hollow eyes ever watchful for a hurtful kick to the ribs or head. And by no fault of their own, their destiny already known at birth. A certain death either by starvation, disease or the road. This began to haunt me.
Realizing how dire the dog (and cat) over population was in Baja, I got involved with animal rescue in Baja and hooked up with Robin Gunther for her nonprofit spay/neuter organization. From there, I met Krystal Cates who founded Pretty Horses Rescue Ranch. I had also planted a vineyard and started a little wine business. It was also nonprofit, ha ha, not because i was a 501 C-3, but because I used most of the wine in my fundraising efforts that benefited both these wonderful organizations in our community.
I never set out to be a rescuer of animals, but suddenly they were all around me. I don’t even know how many lost and starving dogs I have rescued, treated and found them loving homes. These pups certainly had a huge impact on me, but it wasn’t until I adopted a starving, abused horse at Pretty Horses Rescue that I truly became the animal activist that had been hiding in me all along. This horse I named Romeo, filled my heart with so much love and trust, I thought it would burst. This horse that once hung his head in defeat and despair and wouldn’t look me in the eye, now whispers soft winnies in my ear and rubs his fuzzy pony nose on my cheek. This horse that someone thought to throw away like a piece of trash, started showing up at my fundraisers and helped bring animal education (and donations! Yeah baby) to several animal rescues in Rosarito.
Am I an animal activist, yes I would say so now. I have loved my animals always but it takes something else to go the full lap with rescue. It requires patience, passion and money. There are many others who do 1000 times more than me. I’m just doing a small part to make a difference in these animals who come into my life. And I’m grateful to be out of the closet and proud to say yes...I am passionate and an activist for animals! One hundred percent!!
Except for hamsters. Ah. No. I can’t do hamsters. I’m sorry. But I’m sure there’s a hamster rescue out there. I mean, I hope there is. I’m sure there is. Cheers!!