Horses and Puppers

Wild equines need help, and the world lost another good dog

Like most writers, I'm drawn to subjects I'm passionate about. I have a lot of interests, but some of my favorites include politics, the environment, crime, rights for disabled people and animal welfare. So, when putting together our Pet Issue, I immediately picked up the story about a horse sanctuary called The Mustang Project (see page 18).

Tracy Mohr, the organization's founder, is struggling financially to keep a herd of wild horses that was gathered from a federal wildlife refuge in northern Nevada that's ridding the property of so-called feral horses. The animals come from three distinct herds that ran wild on the land prior to the inception of the preserve, and the nonprofit sanctuary just wants them to be able to live out their lives in peace. If they hadn't stepped up to provide them a home, they would be dog food—maybe even people food (horse is cuisine in many cultures). That's the sad reality.

The work of the organization resonates with me for a couple of reasons. First, I'm a horse lover. I don't think horses should be slaughtered for food—animal or human. Second, part of The Mustang Project's mission is to help at-risk kids by pairing them with horses to look after—not these horses, but others in need of care. I can relate. I grew up in a broken home, but was fortunate enough to have a horse.

I can say with certainty that having Ginger, my blue roan quarter horse, kept me away from hard drugs and other things that would have gotten me into real trouble. I mucked stalls to keep her, and my parents chipped in to pay for the rest of her board at the stable in Livermore, where I grew up. In those days, hay was a lot cheaper.

The nonprofit really needs its own home to cut down on costs to make its program sustainable. It also needs regular donors to help keep the horses fed. I've decided to kick in a small donation each month. I don't have a lot of money, but I can definitely set aside what I'd spend on a couple of lattes and gift that tax-deductible donation to this good cause instead.

In last year's Pet Issue, I wrote about my German shepherd Boaz, and what a blow it was to have to say goodbye after spending 13-plus years of my life with him by my side. Very recently, I had to say goodbye to another beloved pet, Puppers, who lived out in the country with me for the first seven years of her life. When I moved away and my dad and stepmom built a house on that property and retired there, Pup became their dog and lived the life of Riley. She was one of the happiest and best dogs I've ever known. I mean, look at that face.