Furry and Feathered


Our Sanctuary Dogs

We always joke- What is an elephant sanctuary without dogs? For us the two go hand in hand. We rescue those who need it, and sometimes that includes a canine or two. It’s all part of this land being sanctuary for everyone and everything.


Maggie the dog

Maggie passed away in January 2019 after 17 years of being an amazing guardian and friend. 

Maggie was a stray that showed up in the middle of the road in Tennessee and has been Scott’s sanctuary dog ever since. She is now 16 and has always felt Scott’s truck was hers, and sometimes guarded it in a very unforgiving way.

People that knew Maggie from TES remember a dog that used to bait people into petting her belly just so she could nip at them; she never bit just enjoyed scaring people. Those in Brazil know Maggie as an old affectionate pup, hard of hearing and limited vision, but the nubbin is always ready to wiggle.

True to being a cattle dog, we believe Maggie is determined to live to be 18 when we said she will have no rules.


Goomba the dog

Goomba is 12 years old and showed up at the sanctuary in Tennessee as a stray when he was about two. He was literally in the middle of our 10 other dogs and when Kat jumped on the four-wheeler to feed elephants, Goomba jumped on with her and Kat has been his human ever since.

He has been a great example for the younger Minnie and Molly when it comes to how to behave around elephants and respecting their space.

Goomba now has early cardiac compromise, along with a new disc issue, so he had to give up his days of running the property and has become a couch dog who spends his time keeping his human company. (Watch → Walks with Goomba)

Minnie & Molly

Approximately 3 years old

When we first arrived on the property, there were 2 farm dogs that were unable to be caught with the other 7 (that went with their owners,) so they were temporarily left behind. Being who we are, we made it our job to try and gain their trust, although in the beginning they would run if you so much as looked at them.

Molly was the first to decide not only were we ok, but affection had been what was missing all of her life. Minnie, her littermate, took a bit longer. But in seeing Molly’s comfort, grew to accept us too. When their owners discussed coming back for them, we all came to an agreement that sanctuary was their forever home.

While Molly is the love who doesn’t remotely understand the concept of personal space and would rather ride on the four-wheeler to go to the barn, Minnie is the soft sweet one with just the right amount of young and spazzy energy for Bugsy. They are phenomenal dogs but can still be a little reluctant around strangers, especially men.

As with elephants, healing is a constant work in progress and they continue to grow.


Approximately 1 1/2 years old

Bugsy was a stray 6-month-old puppy that we found on the side of the road in early 2017.  When we passed, we honestly didn’t know what he was, but we stopped to find a small dog in the bushes covered in mange and silver spray that is used for bugs on cattle.

Because he was contagious, he was kept separate from the other dogs and showed he was one of the most well-behaved puppies we have ever known and came out of his shell quickly.

He now has most of his hair back (he was completely naked and developed a second type of mange after the first healed) and is healthy otherwise. Bugsy is an incredibly loyal and exuberant dog. He accompanies us on night feed with the tapirs, to protect us, but sits and waits outside the corral or down the road as to not interfere with wildlife. When you return to his side he spastically runs the same way he did when he was a puppy, with his body going in all sorts of directions.

Minnie is his play friend who helps keep his energy in check and Goomba shares his toys, which bring Bugsy much joy. He is our guard dog, the one all of our neighbors are fearful of, but your best friend once he knows you.

Bugsy the dog
Bugsy the dog

The Cats


Bodhi and Saffy were gifts that were left in a box for us when we lived further up north in Guarantã Brazil while still looking for a property for the sanctuary. We talked about missing our dogs, so someone brought us two kittens. They were covered in fleas and fungus and arrived on a Sunday when literally no stores were open and our vegan food supply had nothing to offer them.

They are amazing cats. Bodhi is a very typical tuxedo kitty: a big personality but as easy going as they come. Definitely not as sharp as his sister (they are litter mates) but loves everyone and everything. Saffy is also laid back (she even enjoys riding on the four-wheeler) but more of a love.

While Bodhi is only super affectionate when it’s cold outside (between 50 and 60 degrees) Saffy is always game for lovin’. She generally lays around in less than ladylike poses but is a total doll. Every night they come in and sleep in the dog bed together after some mutual grooming.



Clyde Kitty is a stray that we noticed one day by the elephant habitat. Slowly he made his way up to the house and would hang out at the little empty storage building across the way. He initially went between three properties, then only 2- us and Laura and John’s house (our veterinarian and her hubby who live on grounds- a 20-minute ride away). For the past few months, he has stayed only at our house, but still across the yard.

Clyde plays with our cats and comes closer near feed time, but the building is his safe zone. He doesn’t allow us to pet him and when we leave and go to someone else’s house-apparently he gets greatly offended. We would love to trap and neuter him but Have-A-Heart traps are illegal here because of their use with trapping and selling wildlife. So, for now, we continue to try to build a relationship that will allow this in the future.

Saffron ("Saffy")

4 years old


4 years old

Clyde Kitty

age unknown

The Horse


Frederick is at least 25 years old

Frederick was one of the many animals that stayed on the property after the caretakers left. After they were done using him to round up the cattle and move them off of the property, we asked if we could keep him and thankfully they said yes. He is beautiful and stubborn and can be a total punk, but when we arrived he was simply scared; he wouldn’t let us touch him.

Like the dogs, affection was not something he was familiar with. He was head shy and would go to turn and kick if you approached and he wasn’t up for it. Since he’s a bit large for that kind of behavior, we took it extra slow with him.

Now not only is he comfortable with pets, affections, mane brushing and an occasional hug from Scott (although we’re not sure if he truly enjoys the latter) but he comes to the house looking for us now and makes cute little huffing noises so we know he is there.

He loves his morning pellets and adores mango season.

Frederick has access to the entire property but tends to return early in the morning and around dusk during the dry season.

We see him less in the rainy season but we know his independence is important to him, so we allow him his freedom. We have only seen him in the Asian elephant habitat once and never near the girls. He does love the African barn and probably believes we built it for him. We’ll see what he thinks when it has much bigger residents living there.

Feathered Sanctuary Friends


A variety of ages, sizes, colors, and personalities

When we moved onto the property, all of the chickens and dogs were supposed to be gone. We arrived and they were not, but there was still a plan to take them away. Well….after you start feeding them, trying to make them your friends and naming them, that all goes out the window.

It is definitely a lot of chickens, but they’re so individual and wonderful it’s impossible to give one away knowing they will be food- and that’s what they are in this part of the country.

Feeding them sometimes resembles a scene out of Jurassic Park, but they truly are quite enjoyable. Neither Scott nor I were ‘chicken people’ initially, we had a lot to learn and they have been very patient teachers.

Chickens are smart, affectionate and funny but one of the really touching things about them is that they are the most devoted and selfless moms. They will literally give all of their food to their babies and spend every moment of their day caring for them. They’re really quite special and we’re grateful for the first true residents of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil- our chickens.