What kind of animals do you take?
We take disabled dogs, and by disabled we mean blind, deaf, blind-and-deaf, three-legged, and with other neurological and orthopedic issues.
We are not able to take paralyzed animals because we don’t have the human resources here to provide the level of one-on-one care those animals typically require throughout the day. For the same reason, we do not take dogs who are incontinent, i.e., unable to control their bowel and bladder function.
We do not take animals with aggression or behavior problems like separation anxiety. Those are not disabilities.
In the equine department, our focus is on blind horses, but we are currently not taking in any more at the moment.
Will you take my animal?
First, please see previous question about the types of animals we take.
We try and save our very limited space for when shelters call us about an animal, because often that’s the last call the shelter is going to make for that animal before they euthanize him or her. Thus we generally don’t take animals from private individuals, who may have other options to place their pet – family, friends, work colleagues, local rescue groups, etc.
How do you decide which animals you do take?
The first requirement is that they must be truly disabled (see “What kind of animals do you take?”). The second requirement is that the animal must be able to get along with other animals, i.e. that he or she has the temperament to do well in a group setting. Our animals live in a true home-style environment. The dogs spend their days (weather permitting) in small groups in large play yards, and are indoors at night. We do not have kennels or runs to house animals who are aggressive towards other animals, nor is that the kind of operation we want to run. Thus any potential resident must be able to “play well with others.”
Finally, it depends on our space limitations at any given time. We carefully limit our numbers to make sure we can provide a high quality, loving home and a very personal level of care to every animal here. We want them to feel like they are a family pet and not in a shelter or institution.
Do you have a waiting list for animals?
No. We usually take in disabled animals who are at risk of being euthanized in a shelter. If an animal can go on a waiting list, by definition he or she isn’t in that kind of danger.
I just found out my dog is going blind. Can you give me some advice?
The very first thing we tell people is: Don’t despair! Generally, most dogs – like most animals adjust well to their disabilities; they just need a little time to adapt. Sometimes it’s harder on us than it is our animal.
It’s critical that you make sure you get a definitive diagnosis. You need to know what the animal is going blind from so you can decide on the proper course of treatment and so you can know what to expect in the future. If your vet can’t give you a definitive diagnosis, please insist on a referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist. (You can find one near you on this Web site.)
The sad truth is that some vets simply aren’t very good at diagnosing eye diseases. They often don’t have the diagnostic equipment required to make definitive diagnoses, like slit-lamps and Tono-Pens. The eye is complex, the symptoms are often confusing and/or hard to identify, and many vet schools offer little in ophthalmology training to vet students.
One important point to make: Many people think blindness is the end result of the disease process, and that once an animal is blind, nothing more will happen to the eye. Not true! Blindness is only a symptom of disease. The eye disease may often continue to run its course, causing pain and discomfort, long after the animal is blind. Glaucoma, for example, can be terribly painful, and humans with the disease say it’s like living with a constant, throbbing headache at best and with a head-splitting migraine headache at worst.
So eye diseases require the best possible veterinary care. And the earlier you can treat it, the better your chances of preserving vision.
Also: Old age is not a cause of blindness! You wouldn’t believe how often we hear that an animal is going blind “because he’s old.”
The best resource we can recommend is a fabulous book called “Living with Blind Dogs” by Caroline Levin. You can order this book directly from Amazon here.
There are also some Web sites with some helpful information, including Blinddogs.net and Blinddogs.com.
Can you tell me what’s wrong with my dog/cat/horse?
No, we can’t. Only a veterinarian can provide an accurate diagnosis.
My horse is going blind. What should I do?
All of the information we have on caring for blind horses is on our BlindHorses.org Web site. Please also make sure you check out the additional articles and materials posted on the Resources/Links page on that site.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to provide specific advice or recommendations for your particular horse. Sorry!
We have a dog who is aggressive towards other animals/people. Will you take him?
No. We don’t know why people think a sanctuary for disabled animals is the ideal place for an aggressive dog, but we get far too many requests to take dogs with aggression problems. Aggression is NOT a disability. There is no reason we would take a dog who attacks other dogs, nor would we take an animal that is aggressive towards people.
Do you take volunteers?
We’re delighted to have volunteers when we need an extra hand for special projects. If you’d like us to contact you when we have a project, please e-mail us to let us know you’re interested.
We are not able to accommodate long-term volunteer visits, i.e., several days or longer. (See next question for more info on that.)
Can I spend my summer vacation volunteering at the farm?
Unfortunately, we just aren’t set up to accommodate this kind of long-term volunteer visit, as much as we would love to do so. That has to do with the fact that our home and offices are right in the middle of everything, and we’ve found that having people coming and going day after day can interrupt the rest of the work we need to get done.
There are other animal welfare organizations that are able to take long-term volunteer visits, but they usually have full-time paid volunteer coordinators and their animal care facilities are located away from personal living quarters and offices.
For us, with just Alayne and Steve here, we simply don’t have the human resources to supervise volunteers day in and day out while getting our other sanctuary work done.
So our lean structure and unique set-up make it difficult for us to successfully accommodate long-term volunteer visits.
Why did you move the sanctuary from Montana to New Hampshire?
Good question! We announced our intention to move in April 2010 on our blog, and you can read all about it here.
How did you get started?
We worked for many years in corporate jobs in Seattle and saved a few hundred thousand dollars to start the sanctuary. We bought the property, built the first barns and animal cottages, and put in miles of fencing using our own savings. After opening the sanctuary in the fall of 2000, we continued to work at outside jobs from home offices on the ranch to make a living and pay for the daily operating costs. We were at this for a number of years before donations began to cover all the operating expenses. It wasn’t until mid-2006 that we were able to quit our other jobs and devote ourselves full-time to the sanctuary.
There are no grants or low-cost loans to get something like this started, and no easy way to do it. Some folks think there’s a foundation out there somewhere that will write a check to make it happen. Not so.
Our view was that we should invest our own money to establish the sanctuary and develop a track record before we could or should ask other people to donate to the ranch.
Where does your funding come from?
About 85% of our donations come from individuals who want to support a special place like this. From time to time we get a bequest from an estate and the occasional foundation grant, but what makes the Rolling Dog Farm possible is financial gifts from generous and kind-hearted individuals.
Do you have job openings?
Not at this time.