Having lived most of my life on the fringes of society, much of my most memorable rescue and volunteer work has been with animals.
Over the years I’ve taken in many dogs, cats and even horses that needed a home. The last dog I had was a Great Pyrenees that lived out its final years in comfortable bliss. It belonged to a lady who was moving into an apartment and couldn’t take the dog. She dreaded the idea of turning it over to an animal shelter, knowing that many old dogs don’t get placed. So I told her I would give it a home, since Great Pyrenees are meant to be ranch dogs. That made two happy campers—the dog and the lady.
Once there was a dog that got run over by a train on the Cheyenne River Bridge at Edgemont, South Dakota, but it was still alive. The train was changing crews so we asked the crew that was getting on to sit tight while my boss and I worked at getting that dog out from under the train. It was terribly frightened; blood was everywhere. But we managed to get it out and loaded into the company vehicle. Then I took it to the vet clinic. It turned out only the toes of one paw were run over. They not only got it doctored up, but located the owner as well.
Several years ago I was walking the banks of the Clear Creek in Sheridan County, Wyoming, and came across a sheep upside down in the trail. Having raised sheep for many years, I knew that if they are like that for very long, it trashes their equilibrium. Then, even if you get the sheep upright, it will die anyway.
When I got him rolled over and on his feet, he was on his way. What perfect timing—I guess God had a purpose for me that day because a sheep cannot right himself any more than a turtle on its back can. And the chances of someone else coming along and finding him would be very slim.
Horses, trainers and kids bond at Flag Mountain Camp
As I look back, I think some of my best volunteer functions were the three or four years that I furnished horses for blind camp at Flag Mountain Camp. My favorite year of all was the one when Megan Frasier helped. We threw in together and hauled our horses up there in the same trailer. Rachel O’Hare helped us too.
The blind children were such a pleasure to work with. They are so tuned in and used to following instructions. If you tell them to duck (like for overhanging branches) they duck! It was a joy and a great experience for all of us.
Some of the campers told us that their favorite part of blind camp were the horse rides, so I hope they still have horses wherever the kids go for camp these days.
Ben Hobbs is from Edgemont, South Dakota.