Unega Mountain Dog Rescue

    Christmas Day, 2020. JUST RESCUED: Akbash mother (Eve) and 4 puppies 
40852958_1578367516533090_r.jpeg   This lovely family was found in the sage brush covered hills near Kelly Peak not far from Hailey, Idaho. Following a tip from a snowmobiler, and a 6 day search a den was discovered and this lucky, strong willed mother with 4 female pups was rescued and and are now living with us here in our home in Ketchum. Thanks to Officer Ram of Blaine county, and Brian from lava lake sheep co. for contacting me and initiating the search. And a very special thanks to Cory and Tom Peavey (Flat top ranch) for their amazing work of rounding up the puppies by snowmobile and bringing them safely home. The pups are now 6 weeks old and will be ready for adoption in two weeks or so. The mother (Eve) is an estimated two years old and will also be up for adoption in about a month. If you have any interest in adopting Pyrenees or Akbash puppies or adults, please contact me by email.   gtickner@hotmail.com

   Hello and thank you for taking the time to look at our campaign. We are Gary Tickner and Tiffany Larson from Sun Valley,  Idaho, and we are raising money to start the only strictly Pyrenees and Akbash rescue in Idaho. The nearest Great Pyrenees rescue is located in Montana. Tiffany and I have been rescuing, raising, rehabilitating, socializing and placing these dogs into safe healthy homes for five years now. We currently have five of our own. These are large working dogs that have been either abandoned, injured, misplaced, or just walked away from the local area sheep herds. Our mission is to save as many dogs as possible young or old. To give them a second chance to grow old, and to be happy and healthy. We are currently working with the local sheep company’s in south central, idaho to better care for these beautiful animals. Please help us to reach our goal and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 40852958_1577154033341524_r.jpeg

This is our story...
  One evening in July 2015, the phone rang and it was JP, Tiffany’s son. JP sounded very concerned and excited as he described finding a small white dog laying in the sage brush while riding motorcycles near Hailey, Idaho. JP’s chance encounter and our evening phone call would change our lives. 

  Kellee (LuLu)
40852958_1564105153924529_r.jpeg  The first of the soon to be Unega pack (Unega Cherokee for white wolf) Kellee was named after the canyon where JP found her. Sick with the parvovirus and near death, left behind by the band of sheep she was following, to weak to keep up, her fate was now in our hands. Following a vet visit Kellee was sent home with Tiffany and I to care for and do our best to save her. Not allowed to stay in veterinary care because the parvovirus is very contagious, we did our best to give her a fighting chance. (a 20% survival rate) Mainly IV liquids and lots of love. After 5 days the little white puppy of only 3-4 months old started to perk up and began to eat solid food. By day 14 Kellee was bouncing off the walls of our then small condo and chewing on the furniture. During the next vet visit for a checkup and vaccinations we tried to determine kellee’s breed. With some research and a little help from google, Kellee became a female Akbash. A Turkish mountain dog. 

Boone (Boo)
40852958_1564076061620323_r.jpeg  September 2016 14 months had passed. Tiffany and I had just moved to a remote location near the Pioneer mountains to stay at a friends until we found a new home. By now, Kellee was a growing kid and I was her chew toy. We ran and played a lot together. I started to think how nice it might be for her to have a friend, and for me, a few less torn shirts. That week, a client of mine out of the blue stated, “would you like another dog” and I  laughed, and replied “what do you mean?” She went on to tell the story of this Great Pyrenees that her friend had found and was looking for a home. The dog was a 5 month old male with a cropped tail (not traditional for a Pyrenees) who was with a band of sheep passing the friends home and it abandoned the sheep herd and stayed nearby. After a call to the sheep herd owner, the Pyrenees was quickly picked up and returned back to work. Several days later he had returned. Once again the sheep owners removed the dog. Again several days later he was back. This time when called, the sheep owner said “you can keep him”, end of story. That same day at the local grocery store Atkinson’s market in ketchum, Idaho...Tiffany, Kellee and I parked next to this lifted Jeep Wrangler and inside was this beautiful white dog. When we got out to go inside the store, the owner of the Jeep was just arriving back to his car and I  asked if I  could pet his dog. He replied “sure, but he’s not mine, he’s looking for a home”.
When I looked at the dog, we locked eyes, and there was something about him that calmed me. Tiffany and I  both gave him love and we were about to let the man go on his way when I  shouted half jokingly, “you don’t know Lisa Jensen do you? and he replied “yes”. Was this coincidence or fate? This was the same dog I  was talking about with my client just hours before. We got his wife’s phone number and called to set up a play date with Kellee. During the phone call, amazingly, when she gave us her address, they lived only 2 miles from us in the same remote location near the Pioneers. Tiffany and I were shocked. Once again, coincidence or fate? The play date happened two days later, and It was love at first sight as you can see from the first photo ever of Kellee and the man we call Boone. 

  Olaf (Cook’s)
40852958_1564186349716968_r.jpeg  March 2018,  a close friend of Tiffany’s wondered if we were interested in watching her girlfriends 1+ year old male  Akbash, Olaf (named after the animated character from the movie Frozen), while they were in Hawaii for 10 days. In my mind it was going to be a No, but we set up a play date to meet the dog and owner.  The owner arrived to our designated meeting place with Olaf on a leash and he was very excited. Olaf pulled and pulled on the leash, towing the owner around like a crazy man. I asked if I  could try and walk him for a bit and the owner handed me the reigns. After a long tug of war I  decided to let him off leash to see what he would do. Olaf ran and ran bucking and kicking and didn’t respond to any commands to come etc. After a half hour of trying, Olaf was reluctantly back on leash. It was apparent that Olaf could use some obedience training. The owner had previously purchased a training collar and hired a dog trainer that failed to yield results. I wanted to try and help with Olaf’s issues, so we took him home a few days later on the agreement that the owner purchase a trainer collar (Garmin TT 15) that would be compatible with my remote handheld (Garmin alpha 100). After a few days of training with the leash and collar, Olaf was free to walk and play with the other dogs (LuLu and Boone). Olaf learned quickly and started to mellow a bit. By day 7 Olaf was minding well and blending in nicely with Boo and Lu (not without an occasional tire biting attempt on a passing car, bicycle, or 4 wheeler) Day 10 we expected the return of Olaf’s owners, but received an e-mail stating that after some contemplating during their vacation, they would no longer be keeping Olaf. If we didn’t want him, we were informed that they would be taking him to the local shelter for adoption. There was no question Olaf would be staying with us as the third member of the Unega pack. 

  Josey (Josey joe)
40852958_1565149799533120_r.jpeg  December 10, 2018,  that morning I’m checking my email and notice an urgent message from The National Pyrenees Rescue ( I had signed  up on their website just several days prior to alert me of any adoptable dogs in the state). The message headline read “IN DANGER OF BEING EUTHANIZED” if not adopted soon. Included in the email was a photo and a short summary about a 9 month old male Pyrenees named, Josiah. The dogs location was Fairfield Idaho, only one hour away. I immediately called the number listed and a nice lady answered the phone. Following a short conversation the woman informed me that the dog was already spoken for and the new owners would be picking him up in a week. I was grateful that he would be ok. The conversation ended with me saying, “please call me if something changes” and she replied “sure no problem, thank you, and goodbye” A week had passed, and I  had nearly forgotten about the dog named Josiah when the phone rang and a number appeared that I  did not recognize. I let the call go to voicemail. When I later listened to the message it was the same woman I  had spoken with about Josiah a week before. She noted the new owners had failed to show because of a deadly accident with a worker on their farm and they would not be getting the dog at this time. I returned the call and the woman and I  spoke of the details about Josiah and if Tiffany and I would be going to take him. In a nutshell Josiah was uncontrollable, aggressive, unfriendly towards other dogs, and humans. Tiffany and I were in a sense Josiah’s last hope. Depending on the severity of Josiah’s issues our goal was to at least pick up the dog and transport him to the local no kill shelter. The plan was made to pick up Josiah on Saturday December 22. Tiffany would be in Boise, Idaho that weekend and she could pick him up on her way home. Tiffany and I  discussed how to do it and if she was comfortable doing it alone. We decided that Tiffany would call the owner of Josiah ahead of time so he could be brought out away from their home (Pyrenees are very protective of their space) and meet them on the street. She would then load Josiah into our Toyota Tundra (the back seat has been removed and replaced with a platform for Lu, Boo, and Olaf). We crossed our fingers and hoped the exchange would go smoothly. Saturday arrived and I  spoke with Tiffany briefly just before she arrived in Fairfield to pick up Josiah. The mood was tense but optimistic, and she would call me ASAP. So, I waited patiently for any word from Tiffany and after about a half hour of radio silence, the phone rang. Tiffanys first words were, “Ive got him, and he’s licking my face”. During the half hour of radio silence Tiffany had called the owners of Josiah and turned on the street where they lived. She immediately witnessed an older couple walking a large white dog down the street, a man holding one leash and a woman holding an another both attached to a chest harness. Tiffany pulled over and got out of the Tundra to greet the couple with Josiah. The street was icy so the dog was dragging them along and he began to get aggressive and charge towards her. Tiffany wasn’t too worried since Josiah was double muzzled, one metal and one plastic, so she approached fearlessly. Tiffany said a short hello and made the exchange but Josiah put up a fight resisting being loaded up. At 9 months and 90 lbs he was a handful. 15 minutes later Josiah was loaded up and aggression turned to fear and he started to shake. Tiffany said a quick goodbye to the nice couple both with tears in their eyes. She then drove a couple of blocks and contemplated what to do about the muzzles chest harness and two large zip ties tightly attached around Josiah’s neck. She remembered that I had scissors in my truck, pulled over to retrieved them and slowly opened the back door of the Tundra and went to work cutting everything off of Josiah who still trembled in fear. When she reached the last muzzle Tiffany closed the door, got back in the drivers seat and moment of truth not knowing the outcome, reached into the back and removed the muzzle... Josiah sprang forward and started licking her face and hands whimpering in excitement. Tiffany returned home to the pioneers where Josiah would meet his new family LuLu, Boone, and Olaf. No new member is easily accepted into the pack without the pack members setting some rules of pecking order or status. In several weeks time Josiah was renamed Josey after the local actor Clint Eastwood in Josey Wales. Josey was also allowed to roam freely in the house and eat and drink without harassment from the other members. Josey’s aggression would also slowly fade from the calming effects of the pack, the freedom to roam and the love and attention of family. Josey was now officially the fourth member of the Unega pack.

February 1
  Five weeks after rescuing Josey, we were asked to move from our pioneer home of 3 years and relocate. It was full on winter, and finding a rental with 4 large dogs would prove to be difficult. Our only option was to stay in the gym space we were leasing. It was a very trying time and we were becoming overwhelmed with a lack of sleep, money, and patience with one another. Word was out about our predicament and a very wonderful couple miraculously found us a rental opening up April 1. After a very long 7 weeks of gym living we moved in to the new rental and began to find some comfort in a space to call home once again. Not long after settling in we received more bad news that our gym space was for sale and on the market. With the lease contract ending, eventually we would have no choice but to move our gym. We were also informed our new living space would be going on the market as well. Living day to day not knowing if our home would sell we came up with a plan to buy a tiny house and some property then we could finally have a space of our own with room for the dogs to roam and grow, and the capability to rescue more Pyrenees and Akbash dogs. The Unega Mountain Dog Rescue was always our dream and we were on track to make the dream a reality.  

  Late spring and the search was on for a new gym space, the perfect tiny house and a place to put it. Also with the arrival of spring comes new litters of Pyrenees and Akbash puppies in preparation for the sheep grazing season. These puppies would live with the herds of sheep and adult dogs and soon become the fresh new guards dogs replacing the injured and older dogs. To Tiffany and I the grazing season meant that work begins finding new homes for misplaced or unwanted adult dogs, and puppies, vet care, feeding, catching, grooming and keeping track of what sheep herds were in each drainage on the forests in Blaine county and beyond for every week of the summer and fall.  Also it was a time to meet with  sheep herders and owners from dozens of sheep groups each week donating food, grooming, and injury care which  was all provided for free by us, local store owners, and dog lovers in the ketchum area.

August 8,  7am
 An early dog walk in the woods would unknowingly bring new hope for livestock guarding dogs and heighten the controversy between ranchers and the public that’s been going on for decades. It was a normal 5 am wake up for the Unega crew to get collared up for their go crazy run/walk. We would go somewhere away from town into the mountains to avoid traffic and sleeping campers. The morning rolled on in the usual manner of running, barking, wrestling, saying hello to an occasional passing car, collecting noxious weeds, and chewing on leftover deer and elk mountain treats. After a 2+ hour outing we loaded up and headed for home. As we passed  by one of the many old livestock corrals in the backcountry I heard barking. I stopped to listen, and more barking. Not knowing why or what was going on I pulled over and went to investigate. In one of the corrals was a mother Pyrenees and 5 puppies. The mother was anchored to a chain and the puppies were running and having fun. Nearby was a more modern sheep wagon and I knocked on the door. With no answer, I visited the mother and pups once more. I noticed they had no food or water, so I decided to head to town and return with supplies. I took a short video and went on my way. Once I arrived home I showed the video to Tiffany, and she immediately volunteered to go shopping and drive back to the corrals to take care of the dogs. A short time later, she returned and went on and on about how cute and sweet the mother and puppies were and what are we going to do with them. I explained that they surely belong to one of the sheep company’s and we can’t  take them. I told her we would go back later in the day and check on there well being. Unknowing to me Tiffany would soon post the short video I had taken of the mother and puppies on facebook. This would fire up dozens of comments, questions, remarks, angry words, and a long voicemail from the owner of the modern sheep wagon, and one Pyrenees mother with 5 pups. After a call back and a long conversation about the situation with the dogs in the corral, Tiffany and I agreed to meet the unknown sheep rancher named Corey. The following day Tiffany and I waited outside of the local bar and grill Grumpy’s in Ketchum to meet with Corey. A flat bed dodge power wagon pulled up next to us with a young man wearing a cowboy hat behind the wheel. We assumed this was our guy. He stepped out sporting a beard and western clothing, and with a soft laid back voice introduced himself, “hi, I’m Corey”. We talked for a long while about how we all ended up here today. Corey is the son of a long time sheep rancher, who’s own father is the owner of the Flat Top Ranch sheep company in Carey, Idaho. This lifestyle is family business and now Corey was in charge of the guard dog program. 45+ Pyrenees and Akbash dogs. Adults and puppies. As for Tiffany and I we have spent the last four years caring for, rescuing, rehabilitating and socializing these same dogs which for the majority have been mistreated, underfed, injured, and even killed in the line of duty. In the end they are considered livestock by the state of Idaho. So, what can we do.... Hope.  instead of anger, we chose hope in the face of Corey. Corey had explained to us how he wanted to change the way the puppies were cared for and handled. He was taught not to touch the puppies, don’t give them attention, or affection because they will not do their job. He wanted to try a different path and each new step would affect what we both do with these dogs on each end of the spectrum. Unhandled the dogs grew leery of people making them un-catchable by Corey when needing medical attention or to be moved to a new location etc. and the same for us and others trying to rescue them. When asked what we could do to help, Corey stated he would like to purchase some tracking collars for each lead dog, allowing him to locate, feed, administer first-aid and to better manage them in the field. He needed 10 Collars at $1500 each and the elders of the sheep company wouldn’t fund it. Our meeting with Corey ended quickly when he had to leave for work at lefty’s bar and Grill where he worked weekends for extra money to cover the bills that the ranch wouldn’t. Tiffany and I brainstormed that night about how to raise money in a hurry so Corey could get his collars. And a fundraiser 5 days later, was born. Tiffany and I would donate our fat tire Mt. bikes and other prizes from local retail stores. We ran it past Corey and it was a go. Corey would also bring 3 Pyrenees puppies from his ranch that needed adopting. The local Hotel Ketchum would sponsor the event on August 23, and when the event was over, all 3 puppies had been adopted, $4,000 had been raised and word was out about the young Rancher Corey and his mission. The nights event would prompt several newspaper articles, a magazine story and possible future PBS and CBS story coverage. Most importantly to Tiffany and I was our new friendship with Corey and what we could do together to change the treatment and care of the beautiful, loving, and majestic Pyrenees and Akbash dogs. 

  The summer and fall would roll on with regular business with Corey in the field tending to his flocks and dogs and Tiffany and I running The Mill, caring for the Unega pack and on weekends visiting  sheep herds within 75 miles of home. We brought food, bones, eye and ear medicine, grooming scissors and brushes on each trip. We met with many sheep herders and their dogs and returned regularly to bring supplies and visit. There was never any conflict between us/the Unega pack and the sheep guarding dogs we met with. We also kept in touch with Corey to see if he needed anything and when he had a dog he needed adopted we would get the word out on social media to hopefully find it a home. I would also call the local shelter Mountain Humane to see if any Pyrenees/Akbash had been brought in, in hopes I could return them to the rightful sheep group. After months of weekly phone calls, the shelter was aware of my intentions and the girls from intake soon began calling me to help place the dogs. This is when I got news of a Pyrenees puppy that was bought in by a couple from Fairfield, Idaho with a collar imbedded into its neck. Apparently the puppy was sent out with the sheep herd with his litter mates while wearing an identifying collar and somehow was separated from the herd. He grew up alone in the wild and the collar grew tighter and tighter. That couple saved its life as did the Veterinarian that performed the surgery. I asked the girls at intake from the shelter if I could stop by to see the dog and was informed he wouldn’t be accepting visitors for a month or so until he healed, but they assured me I would be the first on the list. 

   September 9, 2019. The Unega crew and I just finished a walk and we are loading up. What I didn’t know was I had dropped the Garmin GPS handheld off my belt clip. It had fallen behind the rear car tire. When I started backing up to leave I heard a weird crunching sound, I stopped and there on the ground was my blaze orange alpha 100 crushed, the touch screen completely shattered . The handheld is my lifeline to the dogs. Showing location and allowing me to tone vibrate or stimulate each dog individually if needed. Without it, would be like driving a car with no steering wheel. I had to think fast. It was just hours before nightfall and the next dog walk. Ordering a new one on line would take 2 days, and no one local carried it in town. The closest retailer was in Twin Falls, Idaho, 3 hours round trip. I called the store and the only one they had was the bundle package which contained the alpha 100 remote with one TT15 collar for $900. Even though I didn’t need the collar I had no choice but to get it. Done deal. I made the trip and I arrived back to Ketchum just in time to pair the collars with the new handheld and make the evening dog walk. That night before bed  I joked with Tiffany,  “I guess we’re getting another dog because we have an extra collar”.  We laughed and climbed in bed.

  Spencer (Blanco)
40852958_1573790684848471_r.jpeg   3 days later on September 12, the phone rang with the caller ID showing a number I knew well,  Mountain Humane. I was expecting news of another Pyrenees or Akbash being brought in, but I was informed the young Pyrenees puppy with the embedded collar named Spencer was ready for a visit. I immediately drove the trip 13 miles south to the shelter on Croy Canyon road in Hailey, Idaho. In my mind this was just a visit, I wasn’t planning on adopting. When I arrived I had to fill out and sign some release forms before going out to the yard to meet Spencer in one of the fenced runs. Once outside I noticed Spencer was already in the pen pacing about. I went in and one of the girls locked the gate behind me. I said nothing and moved slowly as Spencer sized me up and I him. He was much smaller than I expected for the 10 month old that was listed in his bio. I brought special treats for Spencer as a friendly gesture and to break the ice of a new face in his space. I placed a treat and walked away and Spencer would sneak in steal it and run away to eat. We played this game until the food was gone. After that I just sat quietly and waited for him to make the next move. Our visit time was over and I told the girls at the desk thank you and drove away. On the way back home I wondered if I would see Spencer again. After 2 days of thinking about Spencer being alone in his crate and he maybe wondering if I would return with more treats, I felt the overwhelming need to pay him another visit. From that day forward for several weeks I would visit him nearly every day. Each visit Spencer would get a bit more comfortable to the point where I could touch him. Trust was building and we began to play and run like kids around the run. Finally we walked on leash around the pen. And then walks outside. Soon Spencer would be ready to go home to his new family.  

   Saturday September 29, 2019. I called the shelter to inform them that I was ready to pick up Spencer. Everyone was very excited, but sad to see him go. During the drive to the shelter, the extra collar I had received with the bundle purchase, was laying there on the seat next to me. It was as that moment when I realized this was the plan all along. An extra collar for Spencer. When I arrived I signed some papers,  paid a fee, and Spencer said goodbye to his old friends. We loaded up in car to drive home. I called to inform Tiffany of our departure so she could load up the Unega crew and meet me us at the local dog park, that way Spencer would be just another face in the crowd. As Tiffany, Kelley, Boone, Olaf, and Josey arrived and approached, Spencer was a bit overwhelmed with the big white dogs and surrounding people. Being on a retractable leash and chest harness he had some room to roam and I jogged around with him while he became more comfortable. One by one the Unega crew stopped to visit with Spencer and in a short time he became more playful with them. Acting like a happy puppy he would dart and sprint reaching the end of the leash and repeating. Everyone was having fun and we decided to go to the nearby river for a drink. On the way something spooked Spencer and he darted abruptly reaching the end of the leash coming out of his harness. Everyone froze and I lunged forward to catch Spencer before he realized he was free. Spencer slipped through my fingers and headed up into the woods disappearing from sight. I wasn’t very worried and kept my cool thinking surely he would be back to play with the surrounding dogs. An hour passed and then two. The decision was made to take the Unega crew back home so that we could focus on searching for little Spencer. I roamed the dog park from end to end calling out for Spencer late into the darkness, whileTiffany drove around the surrounding neighborhood near the park. At 10 pm we decided to go in for the night. We didn’t sleep and I felt very guilty because Spencer was my responsibility. I would rise early at 5 am to take the Unega’s out for their morning run and then return to the dog park to search for Spencer. As I walked I passed on the word of his disappearance to other dog walkers. My instincts told me to maintain my search near and around the dog park and Spencer would soon return. The morning would come and go with no sign of the little man. I Needed to get home to care for the others, and as I was driving the phone rang. The female voice on the phone said she had gotten my number from the shelter and she thinks that Spencer is at the dog park playing with some other dogs. I turned around and returned to the park. Surely, there he was, playing with a couple of small poodles. I called his name and he stopped and looked at me for a moment. Then he turned, trotted towards the woods, and disappeared. Today would turn out to be a repeat of the previous day. That night was forecast to be in the low teens and Tiffany was very worried about spencer being out alone in the cold temps. After dinner at 9:30 pm I grabbed my 0 degree sleeping bag, pad, pillow, headlamp, and some dog food. As I headed towards the door, destination dog park, Tiffany asked “what are you doing” and I said “I’m going to get Spencer and I wont be back until I have him”. I strolled through the dog park explaining to the other late night walkers that I wasn’t homeless but searching for my lost dog and I might be here for a while. Good luck they would say. After laying out my sleeping area in the woods above the park I wandered and called out Spencer for a while until the cold took its toll and I crawled into my bag for some warmth and rest.  A noise awoke me and I sat up, turned on my headlamp and there at my feet was a little white ghost Spencer. It was 1:30 am. I arose from my bag and startled by the noise Spencer retreated down the hillside into the old golf course below. I could see him watching me so I gathered my food bag and headed his way. As I approached he would move away, then stop. Just like old times from our first hours at the shelter I put out a pile of food and walked away. Spencer would rush in eat and dart away again. The food ran out and so did my leverage to get him close for a catch attempt. It was now 3 am and I was heading back to the car to search for any food I may have in my pop up camper. I searched and in one of the cabinets were 3 cans of organic chicken breast. I would give Spencer one last try before I aborted the mission. First can, spencer got close, second can, closer, halfway through the third can I touched his nose. One last piece and I held my palm open and waited, as he moved forward I pulled my hand slowly in and dove on top of him holding with all my strength. With cries,  biting, kicking and squirming, I HAD HIM! I picked him up and carried him to the car. We were both worn out from the three day event. On the short drive home I called Tiffany to give her the news and now the work would begin to get him inside with the Unega pack. I said nothing as I carried Spencer through the front door and into the spare bedroom closing the door behind me. Tiffany brought food, water and a toy. The night was done @ 4:30 am and I needed to be up at 5:30 so I slept on the floor with Spencer. 1 hour later I took the Unega crew out while Tiffany cared for Spencer. Spencer would go through the same ritual as the others until he blended into the pack. It would take only a month for Spencer to learn the rules and daily routine to become the 5th member of the Unega pack.

   October 1, Tiffany and I had found a new location for the business, and moved the run studio to downtown Ketchum, purchased a tiny home from a builder in Lovell, Wyoming and secured a lease on some property near Hailey, not far from the shelter headquarters of Mountain Humane. The Unega Mountain Dog Rescue was almost a reality. The final paperwork for the lease needed to be signed and I made one last call to plan a meeting with the property owner to go over a few details. During the call his real estate agent informed me that I needed to pay the earnest money. Being a first time property buyer I had no idea what earnest money was, but assumed it was the amount that the owner and I both agreed on to lease the property for a year with an option to buy at the end of the term. I told his agent ok I will bring the X amount over right away. There was a moment of silence on the phone and his agent informed me that it was X amount times 4! In shock, I immediately replied, “can I call you back”, and ended the call. After a few minutes of gathering my thoughts, I called the friend who had been negotiating the deal for me and he explained that it was a mistake on the paperwork that happened during the offer and counteroffers. He said,  “he’s so sorry”, but the owner had just backed out of the deal thinking we were trying to pull a fast one on him. Just like that the lease deal was off and the owner would now only accept full payment for the property. I informed Tiffany of what had happened and we decided to not give up hope and take some time to rethink what to do next. 

   It’s was now November the nights were growing shorter and winter was fast approaching. Amazingly, the land we originally selected for the rescue was still available. The tiny house now sits unoccupied on a friends empty lot ready to be moved and lived in. And the phone calls, texts, and e-mails kept coming informing us of newly found Blanco oveja guardia perro’s (white sheep guard dogs) in need of care, food,  shelter, and lots of love. Its desperate times for the ones that we call leftovers and the deep desire I have to save them grows. Inside I am saddened that I may have failed them all, by not completing the rescue. Days kept coming and going with no solution, and then one night a few weeks ago while laying in bed, while desperately searching for inspiration to save the Unega Mountain Dog Rescue I remembered a dream that I had as a boy. My sister, parents and I lived in the woods far away from town, in Northern California, surrounded by the Trinity, Russian, and Marble mountain wilderness Ranges. It was a clear summer night and I was tent camping alone in the yard. It was after midnight and the moon was full, when I was awakened by a noise outside that sounded like footsteps. I was only about 10 years old at the time, but I  wanted to be brave and in my mind surely it was my father trying to scare me. So, I gathered my courage and reached down to the tent door zipper at the foot of my sleeping bag and slowly unzipped the door. My heart raced and the heart beats filled my ears like beating drums. There in the moonlight only feet away was a large grey and white wolf pacing back and forth. Suddenly for a brief moment the wolf stopped pacing, we locked eyes, and a rush of warmth and numbness filled my body. For a moment I felt nothing, no pain , no anger, no hatred, no fear, no suffering. All of the things I had felt in my early childhood and into my teens from years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of an alcoholic father. And in a blink the wolf was gone. Reality reappeared and I ran inside the house to wake my parents and tell them about the wolf. I was met with anger and disbelief and was sent back to bed or I was going to get a whipping for in a sense crying wolf. No one believed my story, so I thought it was just a dream. A day or two had passed when I was heading out of the house to meet the bus and there in the yard was the wolf, standing in the yard as if waiting for me. Filled with excitement I ran back inside to tell my mother, and when she came to the door and saw the wolf she couldn’t  believe her eyes. She immediately called the fish and game office and they arrived a short time later with a young man who worked for the wildlife rehabilitation rescue many miles away. Somehow the wolf had escaped and ended up in my so called dream. Before the wolf was loaded up the man asked if I would like to say hello and brought it to me so I could touch it. I will never forget the gentle power it possessed. The day I met Boone we locked eyes and I felt the same warmth and power. The night I was awoken by spencer at the foot of my sleeping bag was that dream from long ago repeating itself. I don’t speak much of my childhood and all the things I wish I’d never seen or felt, nor have I visited or spoken much with family in over 20 years. Since Tiffany and I rescued Kellee (Lulu) we have saved many dogs, and with each dogs second chance for a better life, I feel the that warmth inside and the anger and hatred towards my father fading away. This brings me a  step closer for peace in my busy mind and his forgiveness. This is why I have written our story and to ask for help from you our friends, family, businesses clients, acquaintances, and anyone who appreciates what we are, and have been doing.    

 Any and all donations will go directly towards the purchase of property, fencing, shelter, food, and vet care. The love we give is free.

Thank you all, 

May the wolf in your dreams emerge
Gary, Tiffany, Lulu, Boone, Olaf, Josey, and Spencer

Donations ()

  • Katie Sullivan  
    • $20 
    • 1 mo
  • Lisa Carlson 
    • $150 
    • 1 mo
  • Lisa Carlson 
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $200 
    • 2 mos
See all


Gary Tickner 
Ketchum, ID
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