The hidden treasures of Hidden Valley

I moved into the Hidden Valley area of Reno about six months ago.

It’s an area that had always att-racted me — nest-led in the hills away from the hustle and bustle of the city with wide streets, big lots, and a wonderful regional park for people and dogs.

So far, it has lived up to my expectations, but I got a surprise bonus — wild horses roaming on the hills just a few blocks from my house.

I knew that there were bands of wild horses in the hills surrounding Reno but had no idea that we had our very own in Hidden Valley. I grew up as a city girl, but always had a yearning for the wild outdoors. These beautiful creatures make me feel very special and very connected to my new home.

I became curious about the history of these horses and wanted to learn as much as I could about them. A friend of mine took me on a backroads drive, sharing her knowledge of my newfound neighbors and peaking my curiosity even more.

Nevada is home to almost half of our nation’s free-roaming wild horses and many live in the hills around Reno.

This historic Virginia Range herd can be found living in the wild between Virginia City, Reno, Dayton and Carson City. When hiking the desert trails east of Reno, you’re likely to spot the various members of this herd.

My own excursion gave me glimpses of how they live their lives — young bachelors that hadn’t yet found their own band, a mare with a newborn who also had adopted an orphaned foal, a stallion-mare pair that hadn’t yet reproduced, and many different sized bands each with an alpha stallion and alpha mare running the show.

To me, horses are some of the most beautiful animals on earth, and the ones I saw included a wide range of amazing colors — from light buck to dark chocolate brown. The painted ones were the most unusual with a spotted pattern of white and dark coat colors. But my favorite was a handsome dark stallion with a long, flowing white mane. He was truly magnificent!

Hidden treasures

I have discovered the true hidden treasures of Hidden Valley. Now I feel more at home than I ever had.

As the Rolling Stones wrote in the 1970s, “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away — Wild wild horses couldn’t drag me away.” Well, wild horses can and did drag me away and it was to a wonderful new, place.

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Furry foster care for puppies, kittens

You cannot beat watching kittens or puppies at play. Their antics bring a smile to all but the hardest heart. As every good pet person knows, it’s best to have your pets spayed or neutered to avoid adding to the population of pets in need of homes, but, there is a way that you can enjoy puppies and kittens in your home for a few weeks without long-term obligation. Not only is it guilt free, but you will be a true hero.

It’s called foster care. Just like children, kittens and puppies do not have fully developed immune systems and they can easily pick up a virus in a shelter.

Foster parents are truly saving precious little lives by taking them in temporarily.

During the summer, it is not unusual for more than 30 kittens a day to arrive at our local animal shelters. It would be impossible to save them all without foster caregivers.

Foster care not only has health benefits for the babies, but it gives them the valuable experience of living in a home environment for their most critical stage of development. During the first eight weeks of life, they are growing extremely rapidly and their personalities take shape. They are also learning how to get along with others of their species, as well as people. Play is more than just fun; it’s a learning experience as they develop essential skills for their adulthood. As a foster parent, you are preparing them for adoption and life as a companion animal.

The most dedicated foster parents take on neonatal kitten or pups, those that need bottle feeding. Caring for a mom cat and kittens is generally easier, as mom does most of the work. Some people prefer the shorter term foster experience of older kittens or pups.

For example, 6-week-olds only need another three weeks to be ready for adoption.

You don’t have to be an expert. The shelter you work with will show you what you need to do and will provide support until the little ones are old enough for adoption.

One of our dedicated foster volunteers, Rene Barnard said it best, “What a treat to be able to save these precious lives and have so much fun at the same time.”

Want to foster kittens or puppies? Contact one of the local humane groups:

» Nevada Humane Society: 775-856-2000, ext. 320, or info@nevadahumanesociety.org

» SPCA of Northern Nevada: 775-324-7773 or info@spcanevada.org

» Pet Network, Incline Village: 775-832-4404 or info@petnetwork.org

Animals, artists have history

Since early man began drawing images of animals on cave walls, animals have been irresistible subjects to artists.

Visit the Egyptian exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art and you can see images of animals decorating amazing antiquities. Not only were cats popular pets in ancient Egypt, they were considered sacred. The feline goddess Bastet was regarded as a protector and was depicted in numerous sculptures.

Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”

Writer Ernest Hemingway loved cats and shared his home with 30 of them. The descendants of his polydactyl cats still occupy his Key West home, drawing thousands of visitors. Post-impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard included cats in many of his works and Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1881 Chat Noir poster is still widely reproduced.

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edith Wharton, famous for the quote, “My little dog — a heartbeat at my feet,” was a dog lover extraordinaire. Author Mark Twain loved dogs and cats and is known for his pithy quotes about their virtues, including “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

Animals continue to inspire creative people today, so presenting an exhibit of works by local artists depicting animals as part of Artown was a natural.

“I love animals’ energy, interaction, and loyalty,” said Natacha Sperka. “I started doing portraits of my dogs when I realized that I couldn’t keep them forever and wanted to immortalize them. While capturing their expression on the canvas, it led to another path — the perception of their personality and the canvas becomes alive,”

“When we started CockadoodleMoo Farm Sanctuary, I decided to paint the animals. My main idea was to capture the ‘person’ inside the individual animal,” said Dianne Robison. “If you spend time with a goat like Festus, you realize that he can be silly but there is a majestic side to him. Each animal has a story, and I am hoping that my paintings open doors for others to see who they are.”

Sperka and Robison are three of the 20 artists who will be exhibiting their creations at the July 9 Pawspective Art Show at Nevada Humane Society. While the works differ by medium and style, the passion for animals shines through each one.

You won’t want to miss it.

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