Dignified Pet Services presents 'People in the Neighborhood'
She's an angel in muck boots, who dreams of tree houses and makes the world a kinder place.
Five years ago, Cheryl founded My Way Home Dog Rescue to "kinda sweep up around the edges and in the corners, and take the ones that might be overlooked.”
"It takes just one person to toss a dog away — and a team to get them back into a good home."
Escaping corporate America around 2000, Cheryl bought a nursery. But cancer, and the effects of radiation, made the work impossible. Then she lost her heart-dog.
"I started fostering . . . I wanted to give more dogs the love they deserved."
Fostering led to: "'Why not start my own nonprofit and just do this?'" Nearly 200 dogs later, and a devoted foster network that steps up for sick, broken, and elderly dogs, Cheryl’s ‘why not’ has become a dream come true for dogs who once had no options.
"It's all about begging for money, and then spending it all, and then begging for money, and then spending it all,” she smiles.
But that’s not the hardest part.
"Some of my people have actually seen people surrender a 13-year-old dog at a shelter and then adopt a puppy."
Thankfully, she finds levity. Moments with "our hysterical grandsons — they’re 3 — like when my husband tried to hide his sugary cereal," she laughs. "I never thought being a grandparent would be so 'big' — just a lot of love!"
She also loves snow days. “Everything stops! You can just sit near the fire and relax. The best part is, in Portland that can be four snowflakes!”
The #1 thing on her bucket list? "I think I'm accomplishing it right now — My Way Home is at the five-year mark. Now we have a sanctuary on our property, we've created a second living space for foster dogs. We typically always have one hospice dog in residence . . . okay, that one year there were four,” she confesses. "We didn't want them to die in the shelter. That journey takes part of you away every time. But our property is very healing; it's very peaceful here."
It also works its magic on her. "When I don't have to be accountable to anybody, I play with the donkeys — my guilty pleasure! They're magical, loving, and so sweet!" she giggles.
"I clicker-trained them — my farrier just rolls his eyes," she laughs. "At night I watch them with a Donkey-cam — you can see them blink, so you know if they're asleep. They sleep in shifts, one guards. That's why you need two."
"And the barn is definitely cleaner than the house," she confesses joyfully. "Or I hang out in the dog sanctuary. Some people would roll their eyes, but I've traveled a lot. I live on 30 acres at the end of a road with a gate — I'm happy right where I am."
The shoes that are so Cheryl? "My muck boots — my MOST comfortable of all! Can walk in poop and it comes right off!!!"
Cheryl’s daughter, a professional chef, is soon moving in, and Cheryl is looking forward to her culinary magic.
Cheryl hopes others see compassion in her. "The need is always there. A super skinny little guy came in on Friday's transport; he's super starved and he'd rather have love than food."
"The farther you have to bring them along, the harder it is to say good-bye. The ones who have been through SO much...."
If she won the lottery, Cheryl says she’d "build a kickass, amazing tree house for guests and volunteers to stay in, and just plain for fun — overlooking the donkey pasture!"
Cheryl’s joy is her animals. "I just can't wait to get home to them. They're just love, that's what they are," she says adoringly.
Look who’s talking.
About our Sponsor
Dignified Pet Services has served the Portland-area community for 13 years. In addition to their core business of cremation and memorial services, Dignified co-sponsors the beloved annual Service of Remembrance at The Old Church in downtown Portland, as well as serving as wonderful supporters and friends of pets and those working in animal welfare. Proprietors Michael, Randy and Avani live in Sherwood.
Christy Caballero writes from her soul about animals and their humans. She and hubby Herb compete for space on the couch with three big RagaMuffin cats, two retired racing greyhounds and one slightly neurotic foster greyhound -- who never wants to leave. Ever.
UPDATE: Slightly neurotic foster greyhound / failed foster number three. Never has to leave. Ever.