'Blue Dog Bus' owner Meg Vogt starts new 'Rawhide Ranch' for dogs in the city
Ken Jones 0:12
It's been said that dog is man's best friend. I'd like to add that our in depth guest today Meg Vogt can be considered a dog's best friend. Meg is affectionately known as the 'dog bus lady' of Sullivan's Gulch. The reason for that nickname is Meg's daycare for dogs called Dogs Rule and the big blue bus she uses to transport those dogs, which has become a familiar and welcome site in Northeast Portland. Meg's become somewhat of a dog whisperer, due to her great love and understanding for our canine friends. And now she's taken on a project Rawhide Ranch to create a safe place for dogs to roam leash free without roaming too far away and getting lost. Meg's here live in the studio to tell us more about Rawhide Ranch and her work, Meg Vogt, thanks for coming into KBOO on this freezing evening.
Meg Vogt 0:58
Hey, thanks so much for having me I really appreciate your work here, Ken
Ken Jones 1:02
Meg, you started your dog care business 'Dogs Rule' back in 2004. Can you tell us a little bit about the business and what led to its creation?
Meg Vogt 1:10
Oh yeah, actually, starting from the very beginning and '04 my wife was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, 6% survival rate. Colon cancer went to her liver. So I just quit my real job quote unquote, and was just wanting to be with her through all the chemo and doctors and started walking dogs. I was working closely with In Defense of Animals and helping -- Matt Rosello headed it at the time helping him walk dogs and so I just started branched out with the help of Matt Roselle and was able to walk dogs around Deb's chemo and doctor schedule. And just as a note, Deb is now a world class race walker and walks faster than I run and is very healthy. So that's how it all got started.
Ken Jones 1:56
And 'Dogs Rule,' your company got a big boost in 2008 when you bought what became the now iconic Blue Dog bus. What was the reason for the purchase and how many canine clients currently use the bus?
Meg Vogt 2:08
Well, it is funny I got it because I have a bad shoulder and I couldn't lift the dogs in my Toyota pickup anymore, and I'm not the you know, I didn't have the clever idea to do this as some kind of a promo. But yeah, it's been fun. It's all about community I live in, as you said, Sullivan's Gulch, and it just sort of evolved. I painted it light blue and I said, Hey, everybody, just come on over and paint whatever you want on it. So the kids had a blast and we've got dog faces, there's been many paint parties and there's been Grant High School prom party on there where they had a actually a whats it called a disco ball on there, you know, and so movie nights and and sledding with kids and dogs. So it's it's very much about community, and I love how its evolved and it was voted Best of Portland a few years ago. And the irony, which I'll get into with this whole working with- trying to work with Parks and Rec on this project is that I've been written up at all the dog parks at least twice by Parks and Rec for having too many dogs, there's a three dog limit. And they threatened me with a fine of $150 per dog over that three dog limit. And originally I had a 12 pack that I'd take out on the bus. So yeah, they know me well as the person who has way too many dogs. But when they come and write me up, they actually see how well behaved the pack is. And we have a good time we hit it off, so I haven't been fined knock on wood. Now I want to be their best friends and work together on this project,
Ken Jones 3:39
Which is a good transition into the project itself because those- well, those write ups, if not, the fines, were one of the factors that went into it. The project is one to benefit dogs and their owners, which we mentioned called 'Rawhide Ranch.' I know the project has taken a new turn recently, but what was your initial conception for 'Rawhide Ranch' when you started the planning which was about five years ago?
Meg Vogt 4:04
Yeah I- so being written up and having people just harass me for having too many dogs even though you know I- they're a well behaved pack I've been doing this for 15 years and my pack is sweet and- and people comment on that and I pick up poop whenever I see it so you know it's like I'm part of the you know the good people but some people just freak out when I have two dogs come off the bus. So I just finally you know, got fed up. I'm going to just go and get my own property, a couple acres close in. I'm going to have a structure where we can have live music we can have a beer and you know whatever trivia night and let the dogs be safe to run free. So my- what I'm known for with the dog bus is that I don't do leashes we don't do leashes.
Ken Jones 4:50
And these dog parks are least free anyway right -- Mount Tabor and Delta?
Meg Vogt 4:54
Yeah, that- yes. So yes, they're at least free.
Ken Jones 4:59
So you're not you're not flouting the law it's perfectly within your rights to for them to be least free. Now- now the initial idea for 'Rawhide Ranch,' which is your own property, there changed. What were some of the factors involved? I know one was a very sad story of Olive the dog which happened about two months ago.
Meg Vogt 5:17
Yes. So what happened as you said I started the project five years ago. And you know, got everybody excited. We're going to do this rock and roll video dance party DJ dance party around the dog bus lets everybody get going. And then I was pretty ill for about four years didn't have the strength to keep going with the project. And then not until a year ago last fall, did I get get back into it and and in recorded with Figure Eight Sound and got some people around, got my DJ friends out there and we did have the dance party and it's just been a slow process editing this video. So um, I just, I still didn't have like the strength to really do Rawhide Ranch and you know, my wife, Deb is like, but you know, you're still going to move forward with this, and I- you know, I'm a student of a course in miracles and I trust my guides, and I just knew I had to keep moving forward with this - this video at least not knowing, you know what was going to become of this project Rawhide Ranch that I really didn't have strength for. But the video project was so much fun. We could talk more about that in a bit, just a little-
Ken Jones 6:25
We can tell listeners where they can see the video too.
Meg Vogt 6:27
Ken Jones 6:28
We'll do that a little later.
Meg Vogt 6:29
Ken Jones 6:30
I was just interested in-in what you have in mind, now. It's basically not necessarily your own piece of land, but making improvements to the two dog parks that you use quite a bit, Mount Tabor and Delta.
Meg Vogt 6:41
Yeah, so what happened was, um, after walking dogs for 15 years yeah, tragedy happened. late October. I've been walking nice sweet little terriers, these little blonde terriers. Lucy and Olive, for about four years together, they were inseparable. And sorry...
Ken Jones 7:05
Meg Vogt 7:06
Little Olive she's pretty anxious you know but the two of them stayed together and they were both just bundles of joy. I wish y'all could see a picture of Olive, her eyes- just this old soul and so happy. Well, she- she finally was branching- branching out on her own and you know, I had to race out of the park for an emergency and, you know, the dogs are used to me just setting this pace so they know where I am, they can do their thing and know where I'll be. So when I bolted, she lost sight of us and, and panicked and got out of the park and Mount Tabor Park, it's kind of deceptive. You know, it looks fully enclosed. But there's ways out there's even a path on the east side that just goes right up and around the fence there and the gate is just so um...
Ken Jones 7:50
Which is even more difficult for dog owners because they feel that the dog is safe just running around, they don't realize that they can get out of the park.
Meg Vogt 7:57
Yeah, you know, the more people I talked to about this project, they that- a few have said they don't go to that park because their dog has jumped out over the fence and headed towards very busy Division. So, you know, it's just really been interesting talking to people about this project and how everyone says yeah, it's time we need to do this. So what I'm doing now is-
Ken Jones 8:20
I should mentioned and I'm sorry I put you through that Meg, is that it didn't end well for Olive, she was gone for about five days and then they found her passed away.
Meg Vogt 8:31
Yeah, very cold nights. Um, they found her remains. She'd been attacked by a predator and her parents are my very dear friends. The first people I met here when we first moved here in 2000, from Durango, Colorado, beautiful people and they- they, when we buried her they didn't want me to see the remains, you know, they were trying to take care of me but I carry knowing that they have seen her remains that they carry that with them. They're alive. And poor Lucy is really struggling you know, so
Ken Jones 9:00
But her- Olive's memory will live on, again you- you've got plans to- with a Rawhide project to modify the park so that it's much safer for dogs in the future. These incidents like Olive won't happen again hopefully.
Meg Vogt 9:16
Right so um yeah it's- it's an- it's a not so smooth transition with this video because I'm using it for this- this GoFundMe firstly to fully enclose Mount Tabor and I'm working with the Friends of Mount Tabor and they're hardy bunch I'm so excited to work with them. And just that the video is all about partying with your dog and we're all partying around the dog bus. And so here I'm saying yes, we're mourning the death of Olive but look at this video and let's party you know, so there's that sort of transition into it. But what what this whole Rawhide Ranch project was about was to get people together the whole- the whole slogan was 'Rawhide Ranch, a gathering place, dogs allowed' so once we get Mount Tabor secure, I want to definitely work with Parks and Rec to secure Delta dog park, which, right now it's a- dog people, y'all know what I'm talking about. So the Delta sports arena is over like 85 acres of manicured fields. There's seven softball fields, there's nine soccer fields, a football field, beach volleyball, where they bring in the sand. There's a concession building. It's still perfectly manicured and no mud. Whilst across the street from it is called the Delta dog park, part of this whole plan...
Ken Jones 10:39
-Which has mud.
Meg Vogt 10:41
Oh my god, they close it every- every winter because ducks are swimming in there. It's a big mud pit and the transients have trashed it and the gates aren't, aren't safe. And you know, in the summer it doesn't get manicured and Parks and Rec- Yeah, they're having a really rough go they're over 6 million in debt. 50 positions were cut last year, that Community Programs cut so they're really having a rough go and I've been on the phone with them and they've shut me down but I came to them with-
Ken Jones 11:08
They don't want to take private funding even though they're in big financial trouble themselves. It doesn't really make a lot of sense.
Meg Vogt 11:14
People come at me, 'Well, you can't you can't approach them. That's private funding. You can't private funding' and I'm like, Well, yeah, there's a need. Let's all come together now. So originally, I had approached them with this concept. So now I'm going to just get this together. I got amazing people on board, volunteers wanting to jump on in, you know, I can have fences for Fido. With the fencing part of Mount Tabor take- you know, just have their direction. And friends of Mount Tabor-
Ken Jones 11:42
And you've got some suppliers for the hardware involved right, the timber, necessary timber and-
Meg Vogt 11:47
Yeah, yeah, different timber companies and rebuilding- you know, approach them for donating and it's just a huge community effort, which is what I originally had planned for this Rawhide Ranch is for people to come together. So that's what-
Ken Jones 12:01
And let's talk about the funding. We've just got about a minute or so left, Meg, where can listeners find out more about the project and help support it if they like you have a GoFundMe page for Rawhide Ranch?
Meg Vogt 12:12
Yeah. gofundme.com and if you just do a search, rawhide, Portland, and please, I'm just asking everybody who has a dog, I'm doing the Bernie Sanders approach -- just just throw it on 20 bucks each, you know, everybody who has a dog, if we can all just jump in on this. And, and what I have down is 60,000 for this, but it's going to be an ongoing thing. They're really- it really needs to be addressed the needs of your dogs. You know, a lot of people got a puppy for Christmas. They crate- you know that crate training is just crazy all day long. They're on a leash, you know, just so- they need a place to be safe to run free. They need a social life. They're just full of energy and yet they're getting yelled at to just calm the heck down will they need to get out and run so
Ken Jones 12:58
And you're doing great work there with Rawhide Ranch. Well Meg, thanks so much for joining us at KBOO. I'll let listeners know where they can get more information. First Meg Vogt, she's owner of Dog Care Surf and Dogs Rule and driver for the Big Blue Dog bus. And she's working on this Rawhide Ranch project to provide a fun safe space for dogs and their owners. And you can find out more about Meg and Rawhide Ranch on Facebook at Blue Dog bus at Instagram at hashtag Rawhide PDX.
Meg Vogt 13:28
You know what, actually I'm not doing another Instagram I don't need all the social media stuff.
Ken Jones 13:33
The big thing is go to GoFundMe com if you're interested in helping out just search for Rawhide Ranch or Rawhide Portland and you'll find it. This is Ken Jones for KBOO News in Depth.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai