By Lyda Gould
The SPCA of Northern Virginia works with many wonderful partners, volunteers, and supporters who together enable the SPCA to carry out its mission. One partner in particular, Lisa Reid of Ragged Mountain Dogs, stands out because of her daily commitment and devotion to watching over the dogs of the SPCA and preparing them for adoption at her facilities on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in VA.
Lisa Reid is the manager and owner of Ragged Mountain Dogs (RMD), where the SPCA’s dogs are housed while waiting for adoption. Lisa was first introduced to the SPCA in 2000 while working at a dog training facility in Haymarket. A couple of years later, when we needed a new location to house our dogs, we approached Lisa to learn if she might be interested in keeping the dogs in her care until they were adopted. She accepted the offer and created the facilities necessary to establish an environment that would cater to the emotional and behavioral needs of all the animals in her care.
Lisa’s experience working in her local county animal shelter, in an animal hospital, and as a dog trainer taught her what dogs need and how the right structure can save dogs’ lives. It became her mission in life “to one day build and maintain a housing situation for those animals that needed the extra help in order to make them ‘adoptable.'”
In addition to caring for the SPCA dogs, Lisa works with rural Virginia animal shelters, and in 2004 formed her own non-profit rescue, also called Ragged Mountain Dogs, in an effort to rescue even more dogs in need, provide training and medical rehab, and finally rehome them.
Between the SPCA’s dogs and Lisa’s rescues, RMD typically houses 30-35 dogs. It is not a job for the faint of heart, and she does it almost entirely on her own. This is a job 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and structure is key to Lisa’s approach. The SPCA dogs have a stable routine with crating at night in indoor buildings, the use of a potty yard, and numerous daytime pens and play yards to exercise them physically and emotionally, keeping them happy and healthy. Lisa carefully matches the dogs into playgroups. In addition to play throughout the day, the dogs receive on-leash training, walks by volunteers, and have access to agility jumps, obstacles and wading pools.
Her hands-on care, training experience, and daily observations mean that Lisa can provide crucial information about each dog’s personality, behavioral quirks, and on-going training needs. With her guidance the SPCA’s dogs are made ready to make the transition into their forever home. Some of her more notable SPCA alumni include names that you may recognize: Murphy Brown, Pomeroy, Voltaire and Naomi!
Those who have met Lisa or worked with her note that they’ve never met anyone like her before. She puts the dogs and their care far before her own needs. She even holds an Easter egg hunt for the dogs every year. Many of the volunteers at adoption events notice the excitement of alumni dogs who come back to visit her. You don’t have to know anything about animal communication to recognize their bliss at seeing her again; they simply love her.
It cannot be overstated just how much hard work and resources are required to maintain, protect, care for, and train the facilities and SPCA dogs. Thank you, Lisa, for your incredible hard work and partnership for these last 14 years.