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Friday Feature Female: Heidi Sauder

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Heidi’s Horse & Hound Retirement is a registered Not for Profit, located in Meaford, Ontario. Specializing in foxhounds. They rehabilitate and rehome ‘retired’ hunting hounds and horses.​

Working with hunt clubs, private dog owners, and other dog rescues, they are passionate in the pursuit of finding loving homes for these hounds to live out their years. ​They find forever families for our happy hounds to spend their lives with. 

We got to catch up with Heidi Sauder, the heart behind the operation (and logo) and find out more about her story. 

In her own words, we started this mostly for hunt clubs because there wasn’t a good outlet for the hounds if they didn’t work out for hunting. And sometimes, they don’t work out for hunting. After hounds are done hunting, and it’s time to retire, there wasn’t anywhere for them to go. So, we started a program. The hounds come to us and we train them for home. Hounds get a bad name and a bad rap sometimes and are hard to re-home, especially out of a shelter situation. So we have some people that reach out to us and say, “Hey we’ve got this hound, do you think you could help?” Sometimes people adopt and life circumstances change. We want to help them become as adaptable as possible and give them the best chance for a new home and new life. We do as much as we can. We spay or neuter update shots, microchips, and everything to make sure they’re as healthy as can be before they leave us.

Do you do that on your own dime or do you have people who donate?

It’s all by donation. When we started, that was one promise I made to my husband; that it wouldn’t come out of our pockets. We’ve been able to do all of it by donations from people, which is amazing. People I don’t even know out in the world, who follow our pages and who just want to help. It’s amazing.  Different companies reach out and help us too. It’s amazing to watch and see how the community comes together to help with everything from food to vet bills. We do have a small adoption fee as well but that doesn’t really cover much. It’s just a little bit of help. It is all from the kindness of people.

I don’t want to assume that horses or hounds are your favorites but what character trait do you share with your favorite animal?

Oh. The Community and companionship of being with each other, definitely the horses enhance both of them. Horses are herd animals and humans are pack animals and they really enjoy the companionship whether it’s of people or other animals. It’s that, the companionship of each other and learning from each other.

So, would you consider yourself to be an extrovert then?

(Laugh) No. Um, I probably prefer the companionship of the horses and hounds over people. or Community; it’s a quiet companionship. There’s something about the horses and hounds. It doesn’t take words to communicate with each other.  There is so much about the feelings and understanding between each other and that’s what it is. It’s companionship without a lot of words.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To have patience and not to rush things. You can’t rush things to happen. They will come, and you have to be patient with them. In life and in general with training with the dogs and horses; if you push things they’re not going to go the way you imagine. If you take your time it will work out and it will happen. I worked as an apprentice with a horse trainer Pat Carter. She has been a big influence on my life and whether that’s exactly what she said or not, that’s a lesson I have learned from her, not to push; to take a step back, instead of pushing so hard forward and then work your way forward again. It’s a life lesson.

Would you say that you have your dream job?

Like in both ways I run a private stable which that’s like my day job that I get paid for. I work, I have a really great boss.  So I get paid to ride horses and look after the place and then he allows me to do the hounds thing from there, so I bring them with me to work every day. I take out his horses and ride with my dogs every morning. And then they come home and they sleep all day because we’ve done like six or seven kilometers and then I go back and do chores and everything like that, but I always wanted to work with horses, the hound thing came later. And so the fact that I do I get to work with animals, not with people, and I was, like many years I was a waitress and server and bartender that’s how I paid for my horses and that type of thing, as I was kind of coming up and so.  I think people are fine, but not having to serve people and serving animals is much better.

Let’s Identify Strengths as things that make you feel strong. What are your strengths?

Hm. (long pause) Even when I know that the animals are nervous or I’m nervous about something I’m able to put that aside and do what I have to do. I can manage my fear in the moment to be able to help. Whether it’s a person or animal, I think through the situation calmly. That has come in handy and like when there’s been scary situations and courses or in training things. 

Another one is seeing the good in people and animals. Sometimes I think maybe it’s not so good because sometimes I get myself in trouble by giving people the benefit of the doubt. But at the same time, I do think that’s a strength. Sometimes the dogs and horses just need someone to believe in them and know that they’re good. I like to use this to move forward.

Finally, patience; being able to be patient and know when to push and when not to and when to take a step back and start again.

What is your dream for Heidi’s Horse and Hound Retirement?

To never have to say, No,”  to any dogs. To be able to grow and have enough space, enough money, and enough time. I get messages all the time, a lot of messages. The hunt clubs keep me fairly busy because they’re so happy that there is somewhere their hounds can go. But I get calls and messages from outside people all the time and since we run it out of our home and at my work and since there’s just one of me, I can’t take all the dogs. My friend, Sharon, has started helping and fostering.  But being able to say, “Yes!” to more of these people and having more time and energy to grow the retirement center. That is the dream. 

Finding the right home for the right family is so important to us. People may be on my list for over six months, and eventually, the right family always comes along. If they’re patient and if we can get them through the process which often takes time, we’ve all succeeded. We only have so much space, so I remember, when we grow, we’ll be able to find homes for these animals. We just need more room and space and funds. 

As we grow, I will still have a kennel at our home. It’s important that they learn to be in the house, and that they aren’t kennel dogs and that’s part of what sets us apart. We create a home-to-home possibility. That’s important.

We are so grateful we were able to catch up with Heidi. She’s one lovely lady who’s about to become mama bear to a human child in October. We wish her all the very best if fulfilling her dreams for Heidi’s Horse and hound Retirement.

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