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Creating canine comforts
Two former Humane Society workers make a home for the final 12 Kiss dogs that have not yet been adopted
Susan Mackay (left) and Randa Speck (right) pose for a photo with Hello Kisses (left) and Shy Kiss (right) in front of one of the buildings on the Kiss Me Goodnight Rescue Ranch.
October 08, 2012
The familiar sounds of barking and whimpers pervaded the warm afternoon air at the Humane Society of the Ochocos on Sunday.
One-by-one, pickup trucks loaded with empty kennels backed past the side of the shelter to a modest-sized cage in back of the facility where a dozen dogs awaited them.
After five years of waiting for adoption to no avail, the remaining Kiss Dogs were finally going to a new home.
The Kiss Dogs came to the Humane Society of the Ochocos in 2007 following rescue from a Powell Butte property. At the time, the group of feral dogs totaled 100. During the years since, people have adopted most of the animals, but 12 stayed behind.
Former Humane Society employees Randa Speck and Susan Mackay had lobbied with the shelter for the past six months to take the dozen dogs and provide them with a more suitable home. After encountering no interest in the animals, the Humane Society finally agreed to let the dogs go.
As evidenced by their matching Kiss Dogs tattoos, Mackay and Speck have formed a bond with the dogs that they don’t expect others to understand.
“These last 12 that are left are — I wouldn’t say the worst of them all,” Speck said, searching for an explanation. “A couple of them are blind. A couple of them are kind of crippled. A few of them are beyond wanting to socialize.”
Nevertheless, Speck and Mackay care deeply for the unwanted animals and hope to give them a pleasant place to live out their final days. To that end, Mackay converted a portion of her property to the Kiss Me Goodnight Rescue Ranch.
The Juniper Canyon-area ranch features several ample-sized enclosures, cleared of sage brush and other vegetation that typically fills the landscape. Doghouse igloos rest alongside half-buried tractor tires and small Western-themed outbuildings bearing such names as “Saloon” and “Jail.”
“We just thought it would be cute,” Speck said of the names, “kind of like an old town.”
The project kept Mackay busy eight to 13 hours a day for four straight weeks. Though the project was a labor of love, she is glad to be done with it.
“It’s getting cold, and I’m tired,” she quipped.
The 12 dogs will join nine other Kiss Dogs that Mackay adopted at an earlier date. She and Speck couldn’t wait to reacquaint the group with the rest of its family. At the same time, it’s not a simple homecoming.
“The big trick will be just trying to reintegrate them into the groups that we used to have,” Speck said.
Since Mackay and Speck haven’t seen the dogs for the past year, they have to once again earn their trust and companionship as they once did at the shelter. Assuming they succeed, the two hope to eventually take the dogs on leashed walks on the Bureau of Land Management property that borders the ranch. The dogs can also spend time on the ranch indulging in such canine hobbies as digging holes and hunting whatever small animals manage to cross their path.
“We’re excited because we have been trying so hard to get them for all of this time,” Speck said. “We can’t offer them much, but we can sure offer them attention.”