The Bottom Line: By Jan Westmark-Allan
I love the saying, “Horse people love dogs! Dogs love horse people!” Horses and dogs do go hand-in-hand, which is why Sidelines is a big supporter of both horse and dog rescues. I have always thought that if I worked at a dog rescue, I would probably end up with a house full of dogs because it’s very easy for me to fall in love with our canine four-legged friends.
Meg Weinberger, the vice president of Big Dog Ranch Rescue (BDRR) in Wellington, Florida, apparently has the same issue. While her official title is vice president, she is also a volunteer at BDRR. A volunteer who falls in love easily – she has 12 dogs!
Meg’s household is a busy one; in addition to the dozen canines, she and her husband Eric have two daughters, four cats and six horses. I chatted with Meg and asked her how some of her dogs came to live with her and she shared the story of Sully. “Sully is one of my favorites (yes, I have favorites). He was only supposed to come for a weekend visit at our home; but I ended up getting very sick and he would not leave my side. My husband had to force him to eat or go potty. We had Sully placed on the west coast to go in courtrooms with children to face their abusers. The adoption fell threw and he has still never left! Sully is now a certified therapy dog. He goes to hospitals and schools to share his love and rescue story,” Meg said.
Meg also shared the story of Oliver, who she says is as naughty as they come; but holds a special place in their hearts. “Three years ago I was at Miami Animal Services taking a class so I could pull dogs for BDRR. I had just walked out of the classroom and their was a woman punching this little two-month-old puppy in the face. An animal control officer walked over and took the puppy from her (she only received a citation, UGH!). I grabbed him and hugged him the entire night! Oliver was adopted out briefly; but due to a doggie allergy he was returned. So again, three years later Oliver is still a Weinberger.”
Meg’s love for animals began as a child, growing up in a family that rescued animals and fostered children. “My parents never turned anyone away that needed help. I understood very young that everyone doesn’t have a loving home and we had to share ours. My parents adopted two of my sisters when I was five years old. Louise, one of my adopted sisters was mentally handicapped. I saw “Weesie” grow from caring for her animals,” she said.
Meg added that one of her big passions is sharing the world of animals and rescues with special needs children and adults and with underprivileged children. “BDRR has Special Olympics, ARC, PBC Therapeutic and a local foster home coming put to volunteer at the ranch. It is such a blessing for the animals and the kids involved.”
While Meg is a busy woman, she still takes the time to enjoy the small blessings that come her way. Not long ago she received a letter from a 12-year-old girl who had discovered an abandoned German Shepherd. The little girl wrote, “Dear Ranch Lady. There is a very nice doggy living in a house that people moved away from and left him. I have been going to feed him every day with my aunt who is a police officer. I don’t want him to go to that place where they kill all the cats and dogs. If I can take a picture of him, and if my aunt can bring him somewhere, can you help him?”
Meg was thrilled that a 12-year-old would be so resourceful. And of course Meg helped and Tucker, the German Shepherd, is now safe at Big Dog Ranch Rescue! For more information on Big Dog Ranch Rescue, visit their website at www.bdrr.org.
The Bottom Line: If you have room in your heart and your home for another dog (or a horse) please visit a shelter near you and change the life of an animal. I know it’s a cliché; but it will change your life also. If you don’t have room, you can always volunteer. Meg is living proof that being a volunteer is an amazing blessing – a blessing that we all have the opportunity to experience.