By Linda Cole
Even pets can go through an illness, be born with a deformity, injured in an accident, or suffer from old age that leaves them disabled. I had a dog who lost his sight and hearing as he aged. But neither disability stopped him from leading a relatively normal life. He didn’t give up, and there was no way I was going to give up on him. Unfortunately, not every pet has an owner who is willing to do what’s necessary to meet their animal’s needs, and some disabled pets are in shelters because of it. Disabled pets are not as likely to find new homes, yet these are loveable animals whose only crime was having a disability someone didn’t want to deal with. Steve Smith and Alayne Marker decided to do something about this, and opened a one-of-a-kind sanctuary for special needs pets, called Rolling Dog Ranch.
Steve and Alayne founded Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in December of 2000. Located on 160 acres in western Montana, the ranch fulfilled a dream they both had of opening a sanctuary specifically for disabled pets. They decided to call the ranch “Rolling Dog” after watching their dogs roll around in the grass on this beautiful ranch in the Blackfoot River Valley.
The problem with their location in Montana was the distance they needed to travel for vet care, supplies, groceries and everything else they needed, along with finding good employees and volunteers to work in such a remote area. In early 2010 they moved the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary and its disabled pets to a new location in New Hampshire. Located in the White Mountains, their new sanctuary is much closer to all the services they need, and even though it’s a little smaller at 120 acres, there’s still plenty of room for the animals. This includes blind dogs, cats and horses, deaf dogs, three-legged dogs and cats, and some with medical problems like muscular dystrophy.