I played a house concert last night at Wild Horse Rescue Ranch, on the outskirts of Phoenix. They rescue homeless horses there. Their Mission Statement is: “To save equines from abuse, neglect, slaughter and premature death and provide a safe place for them to live for the remainder of their lives.”
There are also over 100 cats on the property. Many were there, running wild on the land, when Kim Meagher (pronounced Ma-Her) first acquired the property in 1995. Some of the cats still live primarily outside, but the Rescue Ranch also keeps two additional large, sectioned off indoor areas for the cats.
One is for wild, feral cats who are wary of people. The other cat section is called “Kitty City”, where the more people-oriented cats, who once lived in homes with people, now live. One of the volunteers told me that they rescue many of these cats from Tempe, a nearby college town, where hundreds (thousands?) of stray cats roam the streets; most likely from the college kids who had a pet cat, and then abandon it.
Both cat areas at the Rescue Ranch were filled with cat trees and chairs with big cushions. Dozens of comfortable, healthy looking kitties sat on their perches in their new home.
I asked one of the volunteers, “Do these cats ever go outside?”
She said “no, because these cats aren’t from this property and wouldn’t be as aware as the native cats of the busy street out front.”
Over 60 volunteers come to the ranch in regularly scheduled shifts to help feed, clean and take care of all the animals. A number of volunteers came out to the show last night and I spent time talking with some of them and learning quite a bit.
There are a number of animal shelters and rescue properties in the greater Phoenix area, and there is some sharing of resources and volunteers. One of the volunteers was telling me, as she was pulling up at another shelter last week, she did a double take. She thought she saw two giraffes. Here in the Arizona desert.
Turns out that Yes, those were giraffes. As she found out, they used to live with Michael Jackson in California. Now they live here in Phoenix. Phoenix is obviously a good place to retire.
The night at Wild Horse Rescue Ranch was wonderful. Animals everywhere. There was a slight time mix-up in the time I was to go on. I thought it was 7, but most people didn’t start showing up till closer to 8, so there was a bit of down time before my performance, but I had plenty to do. I sat on a couch while two unbelievably adorable dachsunds and a very sweet cat competed for my attention. If I dared to pet someone more than someone else, I would get fierce looks and or a nose nudge. Fair is fair.
I also learned that german shepherds love sensitive ballads. A little too much. There were two very large ones german shepherds in the room that night. Actually, one for sure, his name was Wyatt. He was huge and beautiful. The other dog was built like a german shepherd, but was a little larger, and white and furry. Was he a german shepherd? I’m not so sure, but I’ll show off my background of dealing with legal documents here:
Big white furry dog [hereinafter referred to and doing business as “german shepherd”)
Anyway, whenever I sang a soft ballad, when the room would get real quiet and all the attention was focused intensely on the stage as I sang the softest, sweetest ballad in the tenderest of voices, the german shepherds would take the opportunity to trot over and visit me, finding their way under and around my keyboard, wagging their tails and smiling as if to say, “Hey! How are you today? Why’s everybody looking over here? Now might be a good time to pet me.”
This happened more than once.
Ballads and german shepherds. Go together like….. Actually, I’m not quite sure what.
I learned about premarin mares. One of the volunteers was telling me about a premarin mare she was caring for. I said, “What’s a premarin mare?”
She said premarin is a drug that they make out of the pee of pregnant horses (mares). They keep the mares pregnant to collect their urine. Then when the mare gives birth, they immediately get her pregnant again. When a mare can no longer become pregnant, they slaughter her.
Sometimes shelters are able to rescue some of the premarin mares and take them in.
The people who run this ranch, the people that volunteer here, they are angels on earth; dedicating all their time and resources to caring for animals who can’t help themselves or survive on their own. Many of these animals have put in long careers being of service to humans, and for many of those animals who aren’t fortunate enough to be able to live out their days at places like Wild Horse Rescue, their gold watch is the slaughterhouse.
The Rescue Ranch needs money. This year, for the first time, they were hit with an assessment from the county that will run them between $20,000-$50,000 in permits, property improvements and inspections in order to keep their doors open.
If I had a spare million, I know where it would go. But with so many mouths to feed, every little bit helps.
I love being a musician. Sometimes it’s about the music. More often, it’s about the people.