Editor’s note: From our October Pet Package
She’s on her way to pick up a stray dog when she tells me she’s lost her job.
“I have 45 dogs to feed, between my farm and foster homes, and bills to pay,” Robyn Guidara says. “I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to make this work.”
Guidara runs Robyn’s Nest, an animal rescue that she maintains solo ten miles outside of downtown Nashville.
Now, her budget is maxed out and the nest is at capacity. It’s time to start moving dogs into loving homes (preferably with gay people in them) and she wants to start with Chubby Johnson.
No dog left behind
He was eating roadside trash when Guidara spotted him in an unfavorable area of Nashville. But unlike the many of other strays in the area, Chubby J had obvious health problems – two large tumors bulged from his side and abdomen.
The one on his stomach was bigger than a football and didn’t bode well for his health. It didn’t make for an attractive pooch, either.
But where many people saw a hopeless case, Robyn Guidara saw a dog who deserved better.
She rescued the dog and got him necessary medical attention. It cost more than $2,500 to remove the two cancerous tumors, reroute his plumbing (in effect making him a transgender dog) and provide a round of chemotherapy which left him on the brink of death.
Guidara kept friends posted through her MySpace blog.
“His surgery went pretty well over five hours,” Guidara wrote. “I can not tell you how happy I am for Chubby, that he is now free of those nasty burdens. We are not quite sure of how much we have extended his life, but at least the quality of life will be much better.”
Chubby is now an active, healthy resident of Robyn’s Nest – one of many survivor’s up for adoption who’ve been given a second chance to be a best friend.
Now, Guidara hopes the gays will come a-calling.
A gay place to call home
Guidara founded Robyn’s Nest in 2004 and remains dedicated to helping the stray, abandoned and abused animals in and around Nashville. The organization’s 501(C)3 is pending.
Her main goal is to find forever, loving homes for the dog’s currently in her care. It’s an added perk when she gets to adopt to a gay family, she said.
“Any time a gay person wants to adopt a dog, I always ask ‘how many?’ Because gay guys and lesbians are the best dog owners,” Guidara said. “It’s not just me that feels that way, it’s across the board in the rescue world."
Guidara said she knows many same-sex couples who treat their dogs as well as they would a child, and that makes for the perfect candidate to adopt from her Nest.
Through her Facebook and MySpace page, Guidara strives to find homes for her dogs and cross-promotes with other agencies in Tennessee and from other states. You won’t find any photos of her, either. She wants to keep the focus on the dogs.
On her personal page, she promoted in September a very-pregnant Bassett Hound in Greenville, S.C., and a Pit Bull mix in Baltimore, Md., in need forever homes. She also offered her analysis to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency about an alleged “Chupacabra” found in White Bluff.
On her Nest page, she keeps fans updated on several of her dogs, including Lorenzo Llamas, who she rescued from East Nashville and will soon be transporting to a loving home in Maine.
She also pleads for donations so she can continue caring for all her dogs.
“We are not even close to meeting this month’s expenses,” her Facebook status read for several weeks in September.
Will wag for food
Guidara is part of a small but intricate network of local pet rescues who together have rescued and found homes for hundreds of stray dogs while never making a profit.
In fact, after paying for the upkeep of so many dogs, Guidara has little money left over each month to spend on herself. And that’s only one of the sacrifices that comes with the labor of love.
Pet sanctuary’s like Robyn’s Nest become a second full-time job for the people who run them – and it’s a job that pays only in wagging tales and doggie kisses.
The sanctuaries rely on monetary donations, dog food, kind veterinarians who supply them flea medicine and, when she’s lucky, pro-bono work or a discounted procedure for sick dogs.
But rarely is there enough money to cover all the expenses or, worse, the unexpected dogs she finds dumped at her home.
“People just drop dogs off at my house,” Guidara said. “They get my name and search for my address on the internet and I’ll come home and have dogs tied to my fence.”
It’s an unfortunate occurrence when the Nest becomes a dog dump site, leaving Guidara with more animals and expenses than she anticipated. Though she’s an animal lover, her goal is to find permanent homes for the dogs, not to run a hostel.
Though she still gets emotional when a dog leaves the nest, it inspires her to continue her mission.
“I still cry over each one because I miss them and developed my own personal bond with each one, but it is a happy cry knowing that they are now in a forever loving home where they will be treated as a family member and not just as a disposable piece of property,” Guidara said. "Each one placed motivates me to rescue one more."
Visit petfinder.com/shelters/TN577.html to view the pets at Robyn’s Nest available for adoption.