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We Love Rescues! Double J Dog Ranch

older black dog with white muzzle sleeping

A Sanctuary for Dogs with Special Needs

What do you think of when you hear the words "special needs?" Is it "crippled," "impaired," "blind," "unable to take care of one’s self?" The list could go on for what each individual would deem special needs. If you look up the word online, it mentions a mental, emotional, or physical problem that a being has. More or less, we think of it in an educational setting where kids receive more assistance, but what about animals? Can our own furry pets or even giant elephants, dolphins, or snakes also fall into a category of special needs or disability even though they do not attend school or other functions?


Special needs dogs are perfect

in every way that matters . . .


If the answer is yes, what happens to those creatures?

If humans with special needs are lacking funds and assistance, then animals would be in far worse shape. The theory of Darwin’s law would come into effect: either they adapt and survive with their special needs, or perish.

Fortunately, lucky pups at the Double J Dog Ranch are able to find the help, love, and resources they need to live out the rest of their lives with wagging tails and wet kisses. The ranch is a sanctuary for dogs with special need at all stages of life. Where, according to Double J’s website they “choose to celebrate their abilities and happily ever afters! Special needs dogs are perfect in every way that matters, after all they don't know they are any different.....”

The Ranch is one of the few rescues in Washington State focused on

bringing in dogs that need extra resources, from medicine, training, therapies, and acupuncture to end-of life-care like hospice and euthanasia. While some dogs are able to be adopted out to community members on a case by case basis, others live out the rest of their lives at the sanctuary, free of stress, pain, or the harsh realities of a world that has turned a blind eye on them.

They have plenty of space at the Double J Dog Ranch sanctuary as founder Cristene Justus shares her 50 acres of land and home in Hauser Lake, Idaho with all of the dogs. The team down at the ranch allow all breeds of dogs to walk through their doors, although they mostly get Merle Aussies because of the breed’s tendency to have hearing and seeing impairments. On their website there are pictures and success stories of those dogs, which gives the community the opportunity to donate to the cause, while seeing who they are donating to.

Currently there are two dogs named Kasha and Joey, shepherds with two different starts at life. Kasha was found on a side rode with a missing foot, she later had to have her whole leg amputated as a result. Although she is missing a leg, Kasha is happy in her new surroundings because of the sanctuary and the funds she receives to help with her care. As for her new brother Joey, he traveled long and far to get to the Double J Dog Ranch, all the way from Afghanistan! No one knows exactly what his life was like at the start, but he was found blind and emaciated. Thankfully the American journalist who found him smuggled him into the United States and saved his life. Now he resides at the ranch and is thriving.

Those are just two of the dogs living at the ranch, but there are many others with different stories to share. The one constant is that they are all loved and cared for with much passion. That passion was clearly seen in the dogs that attended the Northwest Pet Expo in Spokane, Washington this past March. The dogs conveyed their gratitude and trust for humanity by allowing strangers to approach them without hesitation, pet them, smooch them, and just be near them in a crowded, loud environment.

Having worked in a shelter myself, I have seen firsthand that dogs coming in from stressful situations do not let people touch them, let alone kiss them right off the bat, especially when they have a hard time hearing or seeing. Not that it cannot be done, but the training and time that must be given to dogs with such needs, is a testament that Double J Dog Ranch really cares about the dogs individually and wants better lives for them.

In addition to the Pet Expo, The Ranch attends many other events to educate the public about their services and help raise funds for costs and care. In fact, you might have noticed them, or at least one of their pups, on the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl!! Yes, one of their dogs named Chicklet was featured as a draft pick on the big screen.

The Ranch is adamant about staying in the limelight to raise awareness. It is great to see what is possible when a rescue group like this one really puts in the hard work for the animals they are saving. It is 501(c)(3) non-profit, so none of their staff is paid--all members are volunteers taking time out of their day to do a job that is filled with dog kisses but is not always easy or mess free.

If you would like to donate or help the cause you can do so in many ways from clicking on their website and donating, to visiting their Amazon Wish List and purchasing needed items. If you are an outdoors person you can even drop off some antlers, a special treat for the dogs to chew on.

In a world filled with uncertainty and hectic lives always on the go, maybe taking a breather and a chance on a rescue group like the Double J Dog Ranch is way to reflect. Again, these dogs do not know something is wrong or different with them, they just know they have a second chance at life and they are taking every moment they can to run, jump, and wag their tails as fast as they can.

Maybe if we all had that mentality we would have that extra spark so many people look for. These dogs are not looking for pity, neither are the folks that work with them, they just want live their furry pet lives. Smile and celebrate each dog’s ability.

I hope if you are reading this you can reflect for a moment on a time you were given a second chance, or overcame a hurdle of whatever the magnitude and how good it felt to succeed. If you can, maybe you can also check out The Ranch, spread the word, and who knows maybe lend a hand to an extra special furry pal.


Seattle Pup Magazine has listed nearly 100 rescues and shelters in the Pacific Northwest. Click "Rescue a PUP" for details. Get OUT and volunteer your time! You can and DO make a difference!

We love to post information about rescues! Send us an article about your favorite spot! Contact us.


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