ROCKLAND TWP., Pa. - Everybody has a story, and sometimes you have to take the road less traveled to hear it, like the one that leads to Grey Muzzle Manor, a small farm in Rockland Township, near Fleetwood. There's a hint in the name as to who you'll find there.
"I joke the oldest of the old and the decripitest of the decrepitest, and even if another rescue wants them, I don't want them because somebody else wants them," said Marcy Tocker, the manor's founder. "I don't need to save all the things. I know what I can handle and, uhm, want the ones that nobody wants."
The manor's dogs, cats, pigs, horses, goats and chickens have something in common. A lot of gray hairs around Grey Muzzle Manor, a nonprofit sanctuary for special-needs and senior animals. Many got there to live their best life at the end of theirs.
Tocker said she's amazed by what they have to teach us,
"They are present," she said. "They are not thinking about what they have to do later or bills you have to pay like we do, totally missing the moment."
Especially if that moment includes snacks.
"When people come, the first thing that we do is we give the animals snacks," Tocker added. "Snack time, and that includes the pigs. It's whatever the people want to do. Sometimes they bee line for the horses."
On a farm visit, whatever you do, you won't do it alone. It's kind of the point.
"Just want people to know that they matter and that they are noticed and obviously, hopefully, you've felt you've been noticed," Tocker said.
It's how she felt when Marcy first met Fancy. She discovered animal-assisted therapy through her 13 years ago and said she's helped her in ways she can't even describe, so much so that she didn't want to keep it all to herself.
"That kind of lit a fire inside me, and I remember thinking everybody has to know about this," described Tocker.
At the manor, with these so-called "unwanteds," she offers animal-assisted therapy and sees the transformations in front of her eyes, bringing people and animals who need each other together in a safe place, where there's no judgment. She calls the manor the place that love built.
"I wanted my own safe place and safe haven, never thinking it would become a place where other people would feel that, too," Tocker explained.
You can learn how to support the efforts of Grey Muzzle Manor on the organization's website. It offers volunteer opportunities and accepts monetary contributions and donations of dog beds, animal food, cat litter, and more.
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