As seen on

Animal Planet Visits Rancho de Chihuahua
“Small Dogs, Big Jobs: The Chihuahua Ambassador”

About Us

We’re Joy Nicholson and Steven Kotler, authors and animal geeks who moved to the mountains of Northern New Mexico to start a special-needs dog sanctuary. Joy, a novelist, has been involved with dog rescue for more than twenty years. Steven, a journalist, has been a life-long animal lover. For the full story of who we are and how the heck we got here, please click here.

About the Rancho

We love what we do and we live a little differently at the Rancho. We’re an actual home. Our dogs are never caged, crated, or fenced. We live together, hike together, eat together, sleep together, “read” together, and—of course—console one another when the Cleveland Browns don’t win. Which is very often, but that’s another story… Because we’re located on a small farm, our dogs enjoy plenty of nature. They wrestle, sniff, roll in the grass, watch the horses, chase the birds, loll in the sun, enjoy a good game of bitey-face, (and bitey-leg) play a lot of tag, romp in the snow, “help” us garden, or check out the newest mole hill.

We have a singular and science-based healing methodology, and we’ve had great luck healing the ‘impossibles.’ As for whom we take in, all of our dogs come from shelters. We take in two distinct ‘types.’ All of our dogs are ‘special needs.’

One half of our dogs are in hospice care.

One-half of our guys are long-term rehabilitations. They come with serious physical and/or psychological conditions and often require years of treatment before becoming eligible for adoption. A few will never be eligible, so live with us as “lifers.’ This makes our spaces available very far and few between.

End-of-life care, and how a dog dies is very important to us. We pay particular attention to providing a loving, fear-free, pain-free end. Our veterinarian comes to Rancho, and Joy or Steven (often both) are there at the end, gently and lovingly holding the dog. To read more about hospice care, click here.

Chis are over-represented in shelters, (to see why click here) and many, many young, healthy Chis die every day for lack of adopters. Please consider adopting from a local shelter if you are interested in a new Chihuahua family member. Mixes are truly great–and have far fewer health issues than the teeny-tiny Chihuahuas often coveted and sold by breeders.

Click here to see our available dogs, and requirements. If you can’t adopt right now, but are interested in helping, please click here.