Our September honoree had not been around horses before joining SAFE, “but always referred to my beloved, rescued, Italian mastiff, Guido, as my ‘pony’ because he was the biggest of the four mastiffs I have had over the last 25 years.
“After Guido went to doggy heaven, I reluctantly accepted that he will be my last giant breed dog. However, I still wanted to be around big animals and was looking for another animal non-profit organization with which to volunteer.” SAFE came highly recommended by Guido’s care team, and after attending an open house and meeting Sunny D and Shasta, Debbie signed on to work a chore shift.
“Volunteering at SAFE is helping me to emotionally heal from a number of significant losses over the past year,” she says. “I lost Guido after a 15- month battle with cancer, the last six of which we also fought a heart condition often found in horses. I then unexpectedly lost my dear mother to a brain aneurysm; and three months later, I lost my adored Rocco whom I always affectionately referred to as my little mastiff in a cat suit because Rocco had the biggest head of any cat I had ever met!
“I’m learning so many new things about horses and their care from the kind, patient, dedicated SAFE staff and volunteers who are more horse savvy than I can ever dream of becoming; and that has proven to be very stimulating for me.”
Debbie is especially fond of Shasta, Sunny and Ben. “Ben is the biggest horse I have ever met, so I consider him to be the mastiff of horses; and I find it adorable that he and Sunny are best friends! I was thrilled when Lori asked me to be a ‘buddy’ to Shasta and Sunny and cannot tell you how heart- warming it is to me when they whinny at the sound of my voice when I arrive for the Thursday AM chores shift and when they trot to their pasture fence to greet me when I stop in during the week to check on them. I also have a soft spot for Owen because I know Owen knows I am not a horse person and, as a result, initially kept his distance, not letting me pet him but observing me from afar, as if wondering how long I was going to last. He evidently concluded my being an ‘animal person’ was OK, too; and the day he greeted me at his pasture fence and allowed me to pet him, I felt accepted.”
When not spending time at SAFE, Debbie stays busy with bowling, gardening, learning foreign languages, occasional travel, spending time with family and friends, volunteering with the Friends of Big Finn Hill Park, walking and watching professional football.