It's not every day you see a baby skunk and a kitten getting to know each other on your couch. But it is a typical day for Janice Wolf, her 23 dogs, 10 sheep, eight donkeys, four horses, two emus, and countless cats, ducks, rabbits, turtles -- and whatever animal may need a home that day. Wolf runs Rocky Ridge Refuge in Gassville, AR. The refuge is her personal labor of love for abandoned, abused and injured animals of every shape, size, species and ailment. Wolf's rescues generally enter the refuge with horrific tales of neglect and abuse. But through Wolf's perseverance many of the animals go on to live long, happy lives -- filled with some of the most amazing interspecies friendships. "The only rule we have here is 'we gotta get along,'" says Wolf. "And they do." Above, an abandoned kitten (part of a litter left for dead when the kittens were just a day old) engages Josh, the resident skunk. Josh was raised by humans and then abandoned and doesn't have the necessary skills to survive in the wild. And, no -- no Rocky Ridge Refuge resident has been sprayed by Josh -- not yet, at least.
One of Rocky Ridge's great success stories, Tristan, the three-legged dog (top left), came from a horribly abusive home and went on to make frequent visits to nursing homes, as a therapy dog. His friendship with Fiesta, an orphaned deer, was also legendary. "He just assigned himself the protector," recalls Wolf. "He came from such a terrible place but he was so loving and forgiving. That’s the great thing about animals -- they pay it forward." Duncan, the dog (right), also came to Rocky Ridge Refuge "from a bad situation." But never seemed to hold it against any person or animal. Here, he uses Nabisco the fawn as a pillow.
You'd never know it from Parfait's belly-up smile and her gentle demeanor with Mark, the emu chick, that she was once so abused her collar had become embedded in her neck. Parfait came to Rocky Ridge Refuge after living on the streets of St. Louis. Rescuers found her with a litter of puppies that had frozen to death. Parfait, too, was close to death, according to Wolf, who spent time nursing the pitbull back to health. Today, Parfait breaks the boundary of pit bull predjudice. She's an equal-opportunity enjoyer of all things cute and fluffy, from chicks to bunnies.
Cheesecake is Rocky Ridge's resident capybara and a friend to everyone, especially dogs, according to Wolf: "...they play chase; she's just like another dog." But she does play favorites. Cornbread, the deaf bull terrier (bottom right), and Cheesecake were instant friends, according to Wolf. Cheesecake is still equally as welcoming to the refuge's most recent addition, an African spurred tortoise named Crouton (top right).
Ivan, the Catahoula mix, started going blind at about a year old, but it never stopped him from "nannying" Rocky Ridge's orphans, like Raoul the raccoon. "It's like they all take turns with who's going to nanny each critter," says Wolf. And while we can't say for sure that Ivan, being blind, is able to distinguish what critter he's taking care of, it's probably safe to say he's still quite a good nanny for allowing Raoul to use him as a pillow.
Meet Blade, the Irish wolfhound. Blade came to Rocky Ridge Refuge as a puppy and then spent the next year of his life recovering from paralysis of all 4 limbs. With lots of physical therapy and love, Wolf was able to help Blade learn to walk on his own. Before he could walk, however, he was a favorite of the other baby refugees -- who often kept him company inside while the other dogs were able to roam outside. Here he cuddles with a duckling.
This photo may be the true image of brotherly love. The orphaned lamb was adopted by the mother of the puppy he's sleeping atop. The mother dog gave birth to 10 puppies on Wolf's bed just a week after being brought to Rocky Ridge Refuge. She "insisted," on caring for the lamb as though it were one of her puppies, according to Wolf. The lamb nursed (and cuddled) along with the rest of the pups. The final (and largest) piece of this snuggle puzzle is Krispin, a St. Bernard puppy who came to the refuge with a broken leg.
Lurch may have been Rocky Ridge Refuge's most famous resident of all time. The African Watusi steer holds the record for the largest circumference of horns -- ever. He was even recognized in the book of Guinness World Records. Lurch was also the leader of the Rocky Ridge's motley pack until his death in 2010, according to Wolf. His size never prevented him from befriending other refugees, including Isaiah the cat. Here, a young Lurch (with his horns yet to reach their 8-foot span) grazes while Isaiah enjoys the ride. In this video tribute to Lurch, you can see his other interspecies friendships.
Finally, meet Janice Wolf. Here she poses for a photo with two of Rocky Ridge's refugees. The animal rescue organization was a life-long dream of hers. "I was born to do it," says Wolf, recalling that her first "rescue" was a pelican when she was just a toddler growing up in Florida. For more than twenty years now she's used her experience as a veterinary technician and studies of holistic medicine to help animals. You can follow the stories of her animals and get daily adorable interspecies photos on the website and the Facebook page for Rocky Ridge Refuge.