As she turns the door knob to enter her house, Bobbie Branson can hear the jingle of dog tags and is quickly surrounded by five members of her family. Her face breaks into a broad smile as she bends over to embrace her dogs, then greets her husband, Hal.
The two have been married for 57 years, and are dedicated to staying active in the community in which they were both raised.
“It’s important to make a contribution,” Hal said. “It’s your rent for being on the earth. You gotta give back somethin'.’”
The Bransons do just that through fundraising for New Hope Animal Rescue Center. Their passion is illustrated best through their fostering of puppies. Over the past six years they have fostered approximately 650 animals.
Bobbie and Hal's backyard is also home to eight goats, 25 homing pigeons, 19 guinea fowl, five peafowl, 22 hens, eight cats, a cow and a pond full of koi, catfish, grass carp, bluegill and goldfish.
Caring for the foster dogs who aren't permanent residents involves basic training, a lot of cleaning and healthcare. Trips to the vet are a common occurrence, especially with puppies coming to the Branson home from off the street. Through these interactions, a bond is quickly formed with each animal for these self proclaimed “critter lovers”.
“When they leave here it's sad for us because we pour our heart and soul into them,” Bobbie Branson said.
“But we love it," Hal quickly added. "Better to have loved then lost than to never have loved at all.”