Rescue of the Month: Rocky Ridge Refuge

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be Janice Wolf. Wait, allow me to clarify: I’m not headed off to Switzerland for any special surgeries (my wife is probably breathing a sigh of relief) but I want to be Janice Wolf in spirit. And as you will see, she possesses an abundance of the kind of spirit and passion that makes many of us stop to reevaluate our chosen path(s) in life. I would love  to be able to say that I have made the brave, selfless choices she has for herself and her animals.  I cannot, and few that I know may claim to make the kind of difference that Janice Wolf does for animals in need, around the clock, every day, week and month of the year.

I happened across Janice on Facebook a few months ago. She had posted a picture of a dog with a duckling on our fan page and it was very well received. I sent a private message to her to ask about the story behind the picture and was rewarded with a number of extended conversations (both via e-mail and phone) that led to the discovery and understanding of her rescue in Gassville, AR. This is far from your average backyard rescue organization – in fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen another like it. So let’s take a closer look at Rocky Ridge Refuge, its inhabitants, and the tireless woman who continues to sacrifice for the sake of the lucky animals who find themselves in her care.

An excerpt from  Lurch and the Herd:

You may have never heard of Gassville, AR but there’s one good reason — well, actually about 60 reasons — you might find Gassville very interesting. We’re talking about Janice Wolf and the residents of Rocky Ridge Refuge. Janice lives on fifteen acres of land she inherited from her father. Ever since moving onto the property she has been living out her life-long dream of establishing a home for abused and abandoned animals.

Janice is a dreamer in the best sense of the word — which means she’s also a “doer.” She gives hope and a future to domestic and exotic animals that otherwise would have lived out their lives in sadness and suffering. In the process the animals have taken each other in and formed a unique family. It’s kind of like the Island of Misfit Pets at Rocky Ridge. As Janice says, “Everything I have is broken!” Combining her education (a masters degree in human rehabilitation) and her experience (as a veterinarian technician) with her passion for holistic remedies and herbal medicine, Janice has made a positive difference in the lives of untold numbers of animals and people alike.

janice2.jpg On any day at Rocky Ridge you will see Tristan, Puzzle and Parfait — dogs who were constantly passed over because they have only three legs. There’s Brian, an African goose who was left for dead when Janice rescued him. Brian and the aforementioned Puzzle recuperated together after Puzzle had major surgery. There’s a Llama with one good eye named Noogie and a rambunctious zebra named Zeebiscuit. Janice tells us  “Zeebiscuit was bred to sell at auction but had a difficult birth where he was deprived of oxygen. This left him with seizures the vets couldn’t cure. The breeders didn’t want to keep him longer to see if he could get better (read spend more money on him) so I was called. I still had to pay them a lot if I wanted to try to save him, but he was born on my birthday, so what could I do???? 🙂  He was also cured with natural remedies.”  There’s a blind black lab named Oops who has befriended a deaf bull terrier named Cornbread. They are each other’s eyes and ears.

These are only a few of the amazing and unique friendships you will see at Rocky Ridge. Cat and goose, dog and lamb, llama and donkey are just a few of the species that have become fast friends. Janice also has adopted and treated wild deer, miniature donkeys, Zebu cows, injured racehorses, cats and even an antelope that lived in her house for a while. Oh! We haven’t even mentioned world famous Lurch the Watusi steer or his best friend, Wade the Water Buffalo — they’re rock stars!

Janice Wolf didn’t wait for someone to give her permission to take action. She didn’t wait until she had all the answers and all the resources. As soon as she had a place she employed her sharp mind, great heart and incredible work ethic to start rescuing animals. She started with one. She did what she could and built from there making the world a better place one precious life at a time.

Janice and her packs/herds/flocks of animals were featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show a few years ago. Ellen and the audience came to appreciate this generous soul who provides a haven for needy, unwanted animals with no real financial support – or for that matter security. After her Ellen appearance things were great for about a year. A barn was built and donations supported the operation for some time. And like so many great causes, the spotlight moved away and left Rocky Ridge Refuge to the old way of getting by: with very limited assistance.

When I spoke with Janice last (in April) and asked her how she was doing, she answered in her typical, relaxed fashion. “Well,” she offered, “It’s a pretty quiet night. The dogs are lazy and one of them is hanging out with a deer in the bedroom.” I had to stop her immediately to ask why she was keeping it in the house. “We do have a barn,” she replied, “But some shortcuts were taken when it was built and the room we have for the fragile youngsters is not insulated.”

That single sentence sums up everything about Janice that I love. Stop to consider the reaction most of us have when our dogs track a little mud on the carpet and read her statement again. Who comes first in every circumstance? The animals. Everything about her existence somehow leads back to making things better for those who cannot do so for themselves. If that means giving up the bed for a deer, letting a goat take a dip in the bathroom tub, or ducklings running through the kitchen, so be it. The rest will sort itself out.

Rocky Ridge Refuge and Janice Wolf have a history of good deeds behind them that would take countless pages for me to describe, but I hope I have shared  enough to make you want to learn more about just what a difference one person with the will to do so can make. I encourage you to start with their about page. If, like me, you find yourself ten pages into the site with an hour of smiles behind you, don’t thank me. Share their story with friends, give what you can, and take a moment to thank the woman who continues to do for animals what most of us wish we could, and in all reality, probably never will.

Rocky Ridge Refuge was chosen as our first featured rescue with good reason: I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Life With Dogs post end paw print

Watch for Janice and Lurch (1995-2010) the Guiness Book record holder for largest horn circumference of any animal ever) to appear in the documentary Looking for Lurch, winner of the Little Rock Film Festival Audience Choice award for 2010. Please consider joining their Facebook fan page as a show of support. And before you go, see this tribute video that Janice recently completed.

26 thoughts on “Rescue of the Month: Rocky Ridge Refuge

  1. Janice is truly one of a kind. She is the Albert Schweitzer for animals in need that I wish I had the courage to be.

  2. I, too, have been rewarded by viewing Janice’s website and facebook. I have had a few e-mails also. I told her not long ago, I only have ever had two heros in my life and she is right next to Colin Powell. I can only aspire to be as unselfish as Janice is when it comes to animals. The is the role model we should all follow.

  3. What a cool place and an amazing woman! We have something similar to that near here, but it’s on a much smaller scale. I love the people who just do it because it must be done!

  4. An amazing woman. Her work is very inspirational. A little difference does go a long way. Thank you for the lovely pics and story.

    oh ya.. you better get some sleep too 🙂

  5. It’s beautiful how Janice’s love for the animals carries over to the animals themselves. The pics of species that would typically be predators and prey snuggled up together are really touching. Thanks for this post.

  6. That’s gotta be the Rainbow Bridge! I’m sure that’s where we’re all going when we….you know…’cause it sure looks like paradise, doesn’t it?

    wags, Lola

  7. A truly truly truly touching story. If only the world had more Janices, it would be a far better place for everyone.
    Lurch is i m p r e s s i v e. And so is Janice and her bunch of wonderful animals 😉

  8. How wonderful, heart warming, and how about getting your dog back after 5 years. The sad thing is the lady died but they know now Mikey was well looked after.

  9. I live in Iowa. My husband seen a picture in a magzine of Janice and Lurch. Than we seen where it was only about 9 miles from where we stayed when we were in Arkansas for about six weeks in the winter. We always went and visited Rocky Ridge several times each winter. We took all our friends that came to visit and also people from the resort and told them we always leave a donation. My husband passed away in 2009. Janice wrote me a note as I had sent a donation in memory of my husband. She said he probably was having fun with Lurch, Nookie and Zeebiscuit. I have alot of respect for Janice as I love animals.

  10. Hi Janice, Jan 07 2018

    We are desperate. Do you know of an attorney who will take a “viscious dog” case? We only have 25 days left, to file an appeal before the city of Bull Shoals kills our dog. Quincey is a good dog and has no history and is certainly not rabid.. If you know of anyone that can and will help us fight this , we would all be so grateful. Thank you in advance for any help you can give us.

    Lee Dalton ,Donna Decker and Susan Johnson

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