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Our Animal Friends

Brutus the Tough Guy. Brutus is our long-haired, often messy, adolescent Angora goat. He sometimes likes to test his boundaries and see what he can get away with- though he’s generally a good boy. Because he tries to act tough and cool, it often comes across as being rude to his brother Caesar and can cause a brief conflict in their relationship; but, they quickly find a way to resolve their issues, let it go, and move on to something more interesting- like chewing on the fence to make their break-away or playing with the horses. Brutus is our rough around the edges, but sweet, lovable and kind goat.  All the horses love him on Dr. Lesli’s ranch- especially the Thoroughbred, Thor, with whom he has formed a very special cross-species friendship.

Sami the Worrier. Samir Khan, who is affectionately known as Sami, is our beautiful black Arabian horse who finally found his forever home at the ranch after “failing” his previous owners. His many transitions seem to have given him an anxious disposition. So, he can often be found huddled with the others or trying to get close to his humans for support. He is not one to be left alone or to exhibit great bravery; but his affection knows no bounds and he seems to have taken on the role of peacemaker in the herd. If anyone starts to act up, he is the first to rush over, settle them down, and then stand betwixt the arguing pair until things have calmed.   His favorite goat is Caesar and he loves treats and being petted on the nose. In fact, after most treats he sucks on his tongue to get the last morsel of goodness and appears as if he is smiling.  He will also regularly give kisses to the visitors as a thank you for their kindness.

Thor the Respected Leader. Thor is a stunningly handsome Thoroughbred who was forced to race even though the racetrack wasn’t for him. He was abused by his trainer when he resisted leaving the start gate, then abandoned at a ranch out in Acton. Lucky for us, Thor is now happy in his home and feels secure with himself on Dr. Lesli’s ranch. Thor’s self-esteem has grown exponentially as he found his true passion and talent in jumping and eventing. He has also established himself as the leader amongst the horses on the ranch who all look to him for guidance and often appear lost when he is out training. That being said, he can sometimes take his leadership role a bit too far and can be a little thick-headed trying to keep the other horses in line. He still has some things to learn about the balance between bossiness and leadership. Yet, the others are patient and continue to all seek him out for security and leadership. Moreover, he and Brutus have formed an everlasting bond and he has become quite protective of his little goat. He also likes carrots and being petted on his cheek and neck.

Ronin the Quiet One. Ronin means “masterless Samurai” in Japanese and suited this poor guy perfectly prior to entering the herd at Dr. Lesli’s ranch. He had been bounced from owner to owner, used for his calm demeanor and strong and sturdy body and then sent on to work somewhere else. We found him being leased out to a lesson barn and he was the “go-to guy” for beginners. What this means is that he was saddled up every day and had to have the patience of a saint while beginner rider after beginner rider learned basic equestrian skills at his expense. Wow, has life changed for him! He maintains his very calm, “bomb proof” demeanor; but for the first time he has been able to attach himself to a herd and to an owner. Building this trust took a good bit of time and attention, but it was well worth it. He is still the go-to guy when we need someone really calm and sweet, but he is much more tolerant knowing that he has a family and stability. Ronin has also learned to play, now seems to LOVE his work, and has come a long way in trusting his herd-mates.

Oliver the Elder. Oliver is the newest addition to the ranch, and he joined the herd as a retiree from the show jumping world where he had been very successful. Sadly, though, he never got to learn how to be a horse. To stay pristine for his shows he was kept in a box stall for many years. So, when he arrived at Dr. Lesli’s ranch, he wouldn’t leave his pen – even with the gate wide open. With the lure of treats and carrots, though, he learned that he now had free reign. And it didn’t take long for Oliver to begin thoroughly enjoying his newfound freedom. Unfortunately, though, he had never really learned horse-play rules or personal boundaries, so there were a few scuffles here and there while the other members of the herd showed him the ropes. Now, though, Oliver loves to frolic with the others, play chase and play fight. He has learned the rhythms of the ranch life and fits in beautifully with his friends.  He has even taken to the goats!!

Caesar the Sneaky One. Caesar is the twin brother of Brutus. He is definitely the submissive brother, but we often think of him as the “brains of the operation”. He is the first to find a hole in the fence, figure out the way to the “Snack Shack”, and test his limits when they have free play on the ranch. He seems to use his brother as the “muscle”.  He was also quite bold when we introduced him to the newest addition to the ranch, Karl the pig. We had never seen Caesar take such an aggressive stance and we quickly realized that he needed some training in manners for when you meet someone new. They have mended fences, so to speak, and now they get along. But, we always have to keep an eye on Caesar because you can never be sure what he is up to around the ranch.

Karl the Bold One. Karl, our adorable pot-bellied pig, is the most recent addition to the ranch. He came to us as an adoption from a loving family who just couldn’t keep him any longer due to work constraints. Karl had been an indoor pig with his own room and entertainment system before joining Dr. Lesli’s ranch. So, his first few days were a bit tenuous as he adapted to outdoor living, dirt and gravel, and a whole host of other animals. Well, let me tell you, he has made himself at home. He can usually be found rooting around in his yard or sunning himself during the day. At night, he nestles in his sleeping bag and blanket and gives whole new meaning to “pig in a blanket”. Most recently, he seems to have decided that he “owns the place” in that he takes every opportunity to escape his pen, roam the yard, visit the snack shack or root for acorns, and visit with all of the other animals. He has made himself the boss of them all- regardless of size.  Just watch for his Mohawk to rise if he feels pestered or infringed upon by one of the others! That being said, he is one of our sweetest guys. He loves to do his tricks for treats and will do anything for a belly rub!

Harvey the Professor. In Memoriam – Harvey was a 12-year-old Wheaten Terrier mix who exuded wisdom and compassion. Everyone who met him remarked on his soulful eyes. He was the original therapy animal dating back to his years in New York City with Dr. Lesli where he would roam the halls and units of New York Presbyterian Medical Center visiting with patients and serving as a calming force for all. Harvey was also a part of the Good Dog Foundation and participated in the Read to My Dog program for children who needed extra practice with their reading skills. And, he accompanied Dr. Lesli to a number of rehabilitation and senior centers where he was always a big hit. Harvey also served as a cancer detection dog. Typically, you would find the wise old guy hanging out on his bridge supervising his other animals and keeping a watch on his humans.

Paige the Body in Motion. Paige is an approximately three-year-old German Shepherd mix who we rescued from the West Side German Shepherd Rescue Foundation. She has been an absolute blessing since the day we met her – but WOW does that dog have energy to spare. She became a part of the herd to help with Nikita’s separation anxiety issues, but she has become so much more than a babysitter.  She is protective, sweet, lovable, gets along with everybody and could seriously play all day long. She is an avid runner, squirrel chaser, gopher monitor, hunter, and playmate to her fellow canines – especially Nikita. And from seven in the morning until eleven at night she never stops moving. We all wish that we could borrow some of her energy and positive spirit!

Nikita the Shadow. In Memoriam – Nikita was our beautiful, purebred Black Russian Terrier. She came to us from Oregon where she was bred from world-class parents. She was a dog who knew what she wanted when she wanted it –starting from day one when, as an eight-week-old puppy, she ate her food, picked up the empty bowl in her mouth and promptly dropped it at our feet as if to say – “more, please.” The only challenge with Nikita is that she did not like to be alone – EVER.  This is why her nickname is the Shadow. The problem was that she couldn’t always be next to someone which led to a lot of anxious behaviors and big worries for her. We continued to work on it, and Paige really took Nikita under her wings, so to speak, but the poor pup still got a bit panicky if she ever found herself greater than a room away. Luckily, her amazing disposition, sweet nature and willingness to love everyone, all the time, made up for it. Nikita also knew the most tricks of anyone on the ranch and would gladly perform them at any given opportunity – for a treat of course!