More than a Cute Face – Finding Refuge in the Ozark Mountains

The folks in the office are an animal-loving bunch. It’s not uncommon to walk the halls and hear people telling stories or showing off pictures of their furry friends, and reports of a “Bring Your Dog to Work Day” spread like wildfire. It came as no surprise, then, to hear that Rocky Ridge Refuge was the hot topic in the office after my digital manager Mary Ellen and social media specialist Anna Claire made a visit there. But to listen to them talk about this animal sanctuary on a rocky hill run by one woman with an endless supply of patience and love was more than just hearing about cute animals.

Janice with Bazinga

Janice Wolf’s first memory is of saving a pelican in Key West. To hear Mary Ellen and Anna Claire describe it, Janice has been saving animals from abuse and neglect ever since. She keeps up to 60 animals at a time at the northwest Arkansas refuge that she often finds in desperate situations. Through traditional herbal remedies and a local vet clinic she is able to give her rescues a life worth living.

Sweet puppy

Janice’s main project is rehabilitating dogs for adoption, but she has quite the knack for taking in rare or exotic breeds of animals and each of them has a distinct personality. Take Crouton for example- she patrols the walkway in between two fenced areas, but with just a little sweet potato bribery she was more than happy to let the visitors move on and visit the other animals.

Crouton with sweet potato

And what an assortment there was! While the dogs were the first to welcome Mary Ellen and Anna Claire, it was the deer, sheep, and miniature donkeys that really wanted to show off for them.

Baby Deer

Despite their size, these miniature donkeys made a big impression when they started chasing each other and the deer around the refuge pasture. Apparently they only do this when they have visitors, so Mary Ellen and Anna Claire felt very special.

Mini Donkeys

While Mary Ellen talked to Janice about the history of the refuge, Anna Claire thought she’d stealthily visit Wade the water buffalo in hopes of a picture. Turns out that stealth wasn’t needed at all! Wade, like most of the other animals, has long since passed being camera shy and, as Janice puts it, “loves to photo bomb.”


Like Janice’s description of Wade, many of the stories she told were full of laughter and hope – she was sending a puppy out for adoption the very next day, there was a baby miniature horse born earlier that morning, and her beloved capybara had just graduated to a big girl pool! What impressed Anna Claire and Mary Ellen most is that these happy tales come from animals who had been so damaged before finding their way to Rocky Ridge Refuge.


Janice has saved countless animals over the years, and you can help her. If you’re considering getting a new dog, consider adopting from Rocky Ridge – the animals there were some of the best-mannered and family friendly dogs that Mary Ellen and Anna Claire had ever encountered. And if adoption isn’t the right idea for you, consider donating to her cause. To learn more about how you can help Janice and the Rocky Ridge family, visit the Rocky Ridge Refuge Facebook Page or

For more pictures check out the Rocky Ridge Refuge tab on my Facebook page.