Honoring Our Elders
Lessons from Kindred Spirits
By Randi Bildner
Photos by Monica Morris
A magical force must have led Ulla Pedersen to the place of peace and beauty she now calls home. Kindred Sprits is a haven for the weary, the old, the sick; those who may never have known love. It is a hospice and eldercare rest home – for animals – a place where magic is very much alive.
Ms. Pedersen’s piercing blue eyes are filled with love, warmth, and much wisdom. For more than 10 years she has been providing refuge to animals in need. Pedersen is the sole founder, director and driving force behind the sanctuary, where she continues to make beautiful things happen.
The assortment of kind souls who inhabit Kindred Spirits include dogs, two horses, and a variety of colorful fowl.
Located in the beautiful foothills of New Mexico's Cerrillos Mountains, Kindred Spirits could not be more appropriately named. Each animal is just that to Pedersen: a Kindred Spirit. Each soul an individual, with their own needs that are always attended to.
Some of the colorful inhabitants both past and present include: Tico, a 24 year old Chihuahua; Juliana, a rescue from a puppy mill; and Andrea, a squawking gander who loved to “tell his story.”
Kindred Sprits Animal Sanctuary is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that runs entirely on donations from generous individuals and local businesses. The never-ending workload is accomplished each day by Pedersen, herself, along with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers.
The emphasis on learning is ever- present at Kindred Spirits as several workshops covering a variety of related topics are offered throughout the year.
Visiting Kindred Spirits and getting to know the inhabitants is not only an inspiration, but can be a life-changing experience.
In our unfortunate “throwaway” society this organization is doing is an invaluable service. Most of the animals arrive from difficult situations, wounded both physically and psychologically. The impeccable care they receive often leads to a rebirth of their weary souls.
At Kindred Spirits the residents experience kindness, respect and a true feeling of safety; it is at this point where wondrous things happen.
The essence of Salvador (my first visit to Kindred Spirits)
Salvador, an elderly yellow pit bull, arrived at Kindred Sprits by way of The Santa Fe Humane Society; his badly mangled legs indicate severe abuse and made it difficult for him to walk. The bite marks on his head suggest he may have been used as a bait dog for fighting. The challenges this "little man" faced are beyond what any being should endure; but, thankfully they failed to break Salvador's spirit.
Upon meeting Salvador one cannot help but be captivated by this dog. He literally beams with joy, his friendliness is simply infectious.
As I listened to the heartbreaking story of his life, which included having his legs and tail broken, I became angry and appalled, thinking about “the monster” that hurt this sweet creature. Looking down at the boy, I could not stay this way; I did not want to think about the past. I wanted to enjoy his company – be in the moment - in the here and now, with Salvador.
As Pedersen continued to lead me through her wonderful sanctuary, I personally became witness to the magic of Kindred Spirits.
Traveling down a path, I turned toward a sound; it was Salvador, his wobbly legs working hard to follow us. I was delighted to the point of tears, thrilled to see this brave soul, his smile as wide as the sun, walk in our direction. Salvador refused to be left out. He escorted us throughout the rest of the tour—through this place of miracles.
Pedersen explained the care and therapy Salvador received to get him to the point where he could walk independently. His treatments (many continue to this day) include Reiki massage, acupuncture, a healthy diet with supplements and perhaps, most important, an understanding that he was safe.
In the true nature of the dog, Salvador does not harbor any bitterness; his pure heart and consummate trust are the embodiment of his species.
Through Salvador and the other residents of Kindred Spirits we learn that all life should be revered; we learn about the power of love and kindness, and how it affects all beings, showing us undeniably—that life can be lived to the fullest at any age.