IT ALL STARTED HERE...
Augie, the Family Beagle.
Many folks have heard me tell the story of how Mountain Haven came to be. I don't want to bore you with details and hard core statistics regarding animals in need. Rather I will be brief in telling you a story of my childhood. No, not a requiem of all that went wrong and why I am the way I am..ok actually it is about why I am the way I am.
It all began when I was very young and my parents decided it was time to get a dog for the family. My brother was older, so technically I guess this decision was to benefit him. Be that as it may, along came the most adorable little beagle puppy that we named Augie. Augie was a loving, free spirited being who lived a very good life on her own terms. She was a loving companion to my brother and I, an expert at begging and wrangling a piece of table food from my grandmother, and above all she was my best friend.
As an awkward kid growing up with a physical impairment that required wearing an eye patch, you can imagine how dreadful school could be. A couple of friends came and left to be with the cool kids, not without making a dramatic exit that usually included either putting gum in my hair or tripping me on the way home from school. I imagine this must have been some sort of initiation for them to be accepted with the cool, more normal kids. Eventually the sting of this reality didn't hurt so much because there was Augie waiting for me at home. A willing confidant, I told her everything. We shared snacks, secrets, snuggles and were always together. I never felt alone when I was with her. Augie grew up with me, and she was a great teacher. She taught me unconditional love, compassion, humor and she taught me about loss when her time came at the age of sixteen. All important life lessons delivered by a teacher with velvet ears, a wet nose and a voracious appetite for life. From that point on I have always had a dog (or several) in my life. They have all been a blessing, each and every one of them. I can't imagine my life without them.
Fast forward some decades that included highs and lows, and the somber realization that although still awkward, I was not a kid anymore, and needed to do something more meaningful with my life. I remember thinking to myself "I have no children, what am I doing that can make a difference?" I made things better for others whenever I could through my job, but the lack of personal fulfillment and the desire to do something that makes a difference was overwhelming.
It was at this time that my brother, who has always been somewhat of a trailblazer, invited me to a self improvement workshop event that was rigorous, eye opening and enlightening. That's when everything fell into place and I made the decision to start Mountain Haven.
I had been working in the non-profit arena for several years, and completed a degree program in non-profit management, now I could put all I had learned to good use beyond the confines of the "day job".
And so goes the short story of how Mountain Haven came about. First we focused on establishing the Mountain Haven Pet Food Pantry and ran it out of the front room of my house. Every weekend, my best friend and I would load up the SUV and deliver pet food to house bound seniors and the disabled, many of whom were recipients of food delivery programs such as meals on wheels. Then we found temporary retail space where we could put the pantry and relieve the front room of my house. Then came the first few dogs for adoption, and so began the steady parade of animals in need and at risk. Once again the front room was used to keep a few, then we moved to another retail space, then I put up a tiny building, then the front room became a clinic room where we could quarantine new intakes and provide the supportive care to sick dogs that came in to the rescue.
Needless to say I have given up on the front room of the house ever being a dining room again. Still dealing with highs and lows, uncertainty, heartbreak and more, one thing is for certain, Mountain Haven continues to do what we can to help animals in need and at risk. We forge relationships, alliances, reinvent ourselves as deemed necessary and run it all on love, compassion and copious amounts of coffee. All for the love of animals and the desire to provide the best possible care and fresh start they deserve...and the realization that we are making a difference.