"Animals come to me. They find me," Janet Rahn said with a smile, as we sat on her second level deck on a glorious Saturday morning, surrounded by treetops and overlooking her piece of paradise on the outskirts of Ridgeland. She tells me how she's never taken a trip that a dog doesn't appear. On her very first day in Jamaica a dog started sleeping on her doorstep, following her everywhere she went. In Costa Rica, she was befriended by a Doberman with a reputation, whose owner warned her to beware. "It's the craziest thing. Sometimes I think I smell bad or put off a dog pheromone," she laughs.
Janet is a natural beauty-the kind of woman that is tough enough to get things done, yet compassionate enough to have plenty of love for all God's creatures. "I have seven male painted buntings that show up daily right in this treetop, she points to the tree limb right over the railing, just as a painted bunting lights on a branch. It's the first painted bunting I've seen in person. We are also on the lookout for the flying squirrel she just rehabilitated and released back into nature. She is well-known in these parts to rehabilitate most any wild animal or bird that has been injured or abandoned, including birds of prey.
It is quiet on the deck, but that's because the seven dogs, three baby raccoons, and Joan Rivers-the baby opossum-are all inside. So are her twin two-year-old granddaughters who live a stone's throw away-right across the driveway to be exact. "Bows" has satisfied them with a tiny, personal-size container of H‰agen-Dazs for each of them and a shaker of multi-colored sprinkles. It is 9:00 a.m. and Janet's interaction with her grandchildren has just reminded me that life is not about following rules.
"Bows" is the name Janet has lovingly been dubbed by the twins. They call her that because she is a dog groomer and she puts bows in most of her canine customers' hair. Suddenly, Janet hops up and exclaims, "I didn't even put Star out." My daughter and I look at each other, confirming we are thinking the same thing. "I'm scared to see who Star is," my daughter whispers, giggling with curiosity at the same time. Janet rounds the corner with a medium-size turtle and breaks off a hibiscus bloom for it to eat.
I observe the turtle and tune into the sounds around me. I hear a horse gallop through the field. A redheaded woodpecker lights on the tree and begins circling the trunk. Janet says, "One time we couldn't use the bathtub because we had otters in it." My eyes grow wide-I am fully entertained and intrigued by this amazing lady.
Growing up, Janet's uncle, a dyed-in-the-wool Pentecostal preacher, told her that she had been given a gift and it was her duty to God to honor it. He was referring to her ability to interact with animals. "I have never forgotten that and I do try to honor it."
Janet not only cares for animals, she brings out their best behaviors and abilities. On her land off of Highway 462, she has her business Doggie Doos, a full-service dog ranch, including an agility-training ring, boarding barn, doggie daycare, saltwater dock diving training pool, grooming facility, rescue, and anything else a dog could possibly want. She specializes in behavioral training for dogs, as well as competing in dog shows for every venue all over the country. At one time, she toured Argentina with Team Purina entertaining crowds of almost 40,000, demonstrating Frisbee, flyball, disc, agility, and dock diving. If it's about a dog, chances are Janet has been there and done that-even Stupid Pet Tricks on the "David Letterman Show."
It all started at age seven, when she got her first baby animal, an opossum, which needed help. "I got to be it's mother and I fell in love. Really, the beauty of animals is they can bring the poorest person in touch with the wealthiest person on common ground." Life is full of treats.and Janet Rahn is one of them!
Just say no to: TV-I don't want to sit in front of a box and watch stuff that's not real!
More nicknames: The twins are Addison and Kadence, but "Bows" calls them "Drama" and "Katiebug".
Be sure to: Tip your dog groomer. You tip your hairstylist and they don't have to deal with biting or poop!
Most interesting work: volunteering at Aviaros del Caribe, a sloth sanctuary and rescue in Costa Rica
Has had: monkeys, big cats, and friends with zoos
Beyond animals: she's a great cook and enjoys gardening and art