Meet Your New Best Friend
Author: Nicole Borkoski | Photographer: photography by anne
Dog lovers of the Lowcountry, there is a hidden gem full of beautiful, sweet adoptable dogs right in our backyard. Maranatha Farm, a 501 © (3) non-profit organization, is located in Ridgeland, about 30 minutes from Bluffton. Although my description of the farm could never do it justice, prepare to fall in love.
Nestled among several beautiful acres, you will find the small home of Karen and Dwane Wilkins which they share with about 35 abandoned, neglected and forgotten dogs. Karen and Dwane run a rescue group for homeless and abused dogs out of their house. Their purpose is to provide a home for these wonderful dogs until they are adopted (some have lived at the farm their entire life).
As you drive up to the farm, you will be greeted by a group of dogs, eagerly awaiting your arrival. They will all be clamoring for your affection or looking for a ball that you can throw to them. Some of the shy dogs will nestle into the ground to observe you, some will take a dip in the pond and the puppies will be watching it all unfold.
If you are looking to adopt a dog, you have come to the right place. A variety of breeds includes retrievers, beagles, hounds, Dalmatians, hounds and, of course, mutts! Ages range from puppies to seniors and everything in between.
Life on the farm begins at 5 a.m. each day. Since all the dogs sleep inside at night, the first order of business is letting them all out. Karen and Dwane then clean the house, feed all the dogs, administer medicine (Karen is a trained veterinary technician), wash the blankets, clean out the pond and scoop the poop. This takes a few hours each morning and all gets accomplished before Karen and Dwane head out to their day jobs. Last year, the Wilkins spent $28,000 of their own money on the dogs!
Several aspects about Maranatha Farm makes it a very unique rescue group: Their focus is on hurt, sick and injured dogs. Oftentimes they take in animals with large vet bills that no one else wants. There are two disabled dogs living on the farm right now, both getting around beautifully, thanks to the wheelchairs made by Karen and Dwane. (As if they weren’t busy enough, they make wheelchairs for other handicapped dogs as well.)
Karen also helps local residents who have problems with their own dogs. For example, a woman’s dog was recently hit by a car. Karen is helping get the dog medical help and providing assistance. She genuinely loves animals and wants to help every dog she can.
One of the great parts about the farm is that there are no kennels. All of the dogs run free and have a very large area in which to run and play. A pond was built for them to swim in on hot days. The dogs get a lot of exercise and love to explore their surroundings. You will see them digging for moles, chasing each other and lounging in the sun. The food and water is always out and available for the dogs, so there is no food aggression.
Many of these dogs were injured or abused before they came to live at Maranatha, but you would never know it by their demeanor. Buckshot, a small black dog, was shot in the back and lost the use of his back legs. He, however, is one of the happiest dogs at the farm. You will find him running with big dogs, rolling his wheelchair over any dog who tries to get in his way. Your heart would break at some of the pain these animals have suffered at the hands of humans. Here at the farm, they have a new lease on life, patiently awaiting their forever home.
You can view some of the dogs available for adoption on the farm’s website (www.maranathafarm.org). By Golly, Rooster, Five Paw, Daffy Dill and Rory Calhoun are just a few of the great dogs looking for homes. Maranatha also offers a Seniors for Seniors program whereby older dogs like Samson are paired with a senior person (over the age of 60) for companionship without the adoption fee. The human senior is responsible for taking care of the dog in his or her home and providing food, treats and flea/tick prevention. Maranatha provides heartworm and worming prevention as well as funding for any additional medical needs that may arise. It is a wonderful program for both the senior dog and human.
Maranatha Farm has adopted out almost 200 dogs since its conception. Since many of these dogs came from tough beginnings, the adoption process is very thorough. After you come out and meet the dogs and select the one you think would be the best match for you, there is an application form which asks for your basic information and the number of your veterinarian. (If you have never had a dog before, personal references may be substituted for the vet reference.) A home visit will then be performed to ensure the dog will be living in a safe, healthy environment. If all goes well, your new best friend is yours for $150. The fee covers spaying/neutering, all shots and worming. All of the dogs are unconditionally guaranteed for life, and will be accepted back at any time with full refund of the adoption fee. Every dog also receives free lifetime vacation boarding at the farm.
To meet the dogs, come to the farm every Friday or Sunday between 1 and 5 p.m. or call for an appointment. Each Saturday, you can find the dogs at the Pet Adoption Fair at PetCo in Bluffton (next to Best Buy) from 12-5 p.m. The first Saturday of each month is Open House at the farm at 11 a.m. Stop by and enjoy a burger, soda and wet noses.
What the dogs need more than anything else is human contact, love and socialization. Puppies need to be held and the dogs need to be petted. Give the farm a call (843-816-6676) and come see these amazing dogs. You may just meet your new best friend.