[Article by Melissa Grant, owner of Miss Lola’s Academy]
I met Tina Laguna when I sought out her advice about a bird. Instantly friendly and helpful, I saw why so many residents spoke so highly of her and why she seemed to be universally liked and respected in the valley. I attended her BBQ fundraiser last year and had such a good time that when it was time for it again this year, I knew I had to find out more about what she does out at Rancho Laguna.
I caught up with Tina on the Saturday after their summer day camp and before the fundraiser. The ranch is at the end of a long gravel road and as I parked by the gate I was greeted by a ragtag trio of dogs – two shepherd mixes (Diego and Theo), who apparently are working out some “differences” and a sunny terrier (Sam). Tina herself followed shortly with a wave and a request that I pardon her mess. We walked and talked and I learned more about the ranch and what they do there. It’s a lot.
A lifelong animal lover and rescuer, Tina first got bit by the bug to help people and animals at the age of 12. A skinny horse named Breezie John led her down the path to eventually start Rancho Laguna’s Heart: Home of Equine Assisted Therapy in 2000. A privately owned company until 2012 when she filed articles of incorporation with the State of Washington to become a non-profit organization, co-founded by herself and Anna Lvova.
Says Tina: “We are a mom and daughter devoted to caring for critters that need us. I took in my first rescue horse in 1980 at age 12 and donated him to Easter Seals Therapeutic Riding Program in 1986 when I left to attend college at the University of Washington. Isabella (her daughter) has been riding since she was born and currently helps me train all the horses and donkeys. She shows two of the therapy horses and also runs Cross Country for Mt Si High School”
When asked what they do at the ranch Tina simply said, “We rescue, rehabilitate and re-home when possible. The critters that are “un-adoptable” are kept in sanctuary at our ranch to live out their lives”. In addition to rescues, they do Equine Therapy with the help of a licensed psychotherapist and offer therapeutic volunteering for those who just want that farm experience.
It is an experience. As we walked two large puppies crawled sleepily out from under the porch. Anatolian, Pyrenees and Bernese Mountain dog mixes Brutus and Julius will help protect everyone from the coyotes, bears and cougars that sometimes make trouble for the ranches animal residents. I met the horses (Fancy, Roxy, Lydia, Malcom, Debby, Merida), a couple of donkeys (Elmer and Rosy), ducks, goats, chickens, peacocks, turkeys and finally some bees (yes, she has beehives too) Apparently there is a Chihuahua that I missed somehow and I’m willing to bet a cat or two. Whew!
As we walked to the back of the property I noticed a tiny house, RV and some tents. Apparently in addition to everything else Tina has going on she also allows folks to come stay in the RV or camp in her back field to experience ranch and fall asleep lulled by the sound of the falls. You can find her listing at hipcamp.com. Double whew!
So, what’s the fundraiser all about? Says Tina: “We raise funds a couple of times a year to help pay to feed, house, do medical maintenance and hoof care. We really dream of building a 60×60 covered riding arena to grow our therapeutic programs and run them all year-long. As soon as the rainy season hits we lose most of the clients and volunteers until better weather. We also would love to have a tractor to ease our chores, we move lots and lots of poop.”
I’ve seen the animals. I can attest to the truthfulness of that last statement.
So, on July 28th from 3-8pm she will have 6 bands performing, BBQ, a petting zoo, raffles and games. The event is family friendly. Their big-ticket raffle items are a weekend at Tree House Point, 2 tickets to Wicked, 2 tickets to Lion King, lots of gift certificates and a Seahawks cornball game.
You really should attend, but if you can’t and would still like to help there is a donate button on her website (link in the third paragraph) or you can mail donations to:
Rancho Laguna’s HEART
37705 SE 47th Street, Snoqualmie, WA 98065
(425)888-7708 | IRS EIN 46-0536327 Rancho Laguna’s HEART (Home of Equine Assisted Therapy)