A Puppy Ministry

Maddie Meyer

Hal and Bobbie Branson share a morning blessing before breakfast. Hal is a retired minister, and both are very involved in the Spottsville Baptist Church.

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.”

Bobbie Branson walks onto her small family farm from her house to visit with her animals. Bobbie and her husband, Hal, own many animals including their cow Daisy, seven goats, 19 guinea fowl and 22 hens.

Hal Branson milks one of his three dairy goats, which are named Naomi, Penny and Raney. Hal and his wife, Bobbie, drink the milk every morning with breakfast.

Hal Branson cleans off the sheets that line the bottom of his foster puppies' cages. The sheets, donated by a local hospital, are used as bedding for the puppies.

Hal Branson uses his Ford tractor to haul firewood from a fallen pecan tree. His wife, Bobbie, grew up the farm where they live today.

Bobbie Branson joins her husband, Hal, with Lady, a foster dog. Three of Lady's puppies stay close to their mother.