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July ‘23 Be the Change: Karma Bob’s Backyard Animal Refuge, inc.

What Bob Knew
By Natalie Criscione

Life-release, or the saving of animals destined for slaughter, is practiced throughout the Buddhist world. All schools of Buddhism encourage followers to not only refrain from harming beings, but also to actively save lives. (

Joe Mikrut and Cheryl McCathran* stopped by Crosby Farms one day to visit their friend Tim, who told them about the “black dot” he had seen earlier in the day near the tree-line. When he walked across the field to investigate, he discovered that the dot was actually a newborn yak. A very sick yak, whose mother had rejected him. 

They all knew that sick baby yaks usually do not live for long. That made them feel sad, but still they all hoped the baby yak would get stronger. They called him Bob, and Tim cared for him for many months. He then asked Joe and Cheryl if they would like to take him. 

Without hesitation, they said “Yes!”

But Joe and Cheryl knew nothing about yaks, let alone a sick yak that would need special care and daily bottle feeding. In fact, except for a few chickens, a dog, and four rescue cats, they did not have a lot of experience with animals at all. But, Bob didn’t mind. He knew he could show them everything they needed to know. 

They kept Bob in their backyard during the day and put him in their shed at night. When Cheryl said, “Good morning, Bob,” he nuzzled against her. When Joe installed new fencing or a gate, Bob was close by, following him as he went about his work, even licking his face now and then. 

“Yak kisses,” said Cheryl, smiling.

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/coop-scoop-blog-illos/Be the Change_ Karma Bobs photo courtesy of Karma Bobs.jpeg

While Bob was teaching them about yaks, something else was happening. Something they hadn’t expected. They were learning about other animals, too. “He had a mission,” said Joe, “he was sick as could be…[yet] he got this thing going.” 

“This thing” is what has become a haven for animals who have all been “rescued from something.” It is a place of sanctuary and peace that gets Joe and Cheryl up at 4:30 in the morning and demands their attention throughout the day and evening. There are always animals to feed, medicines to give, veterinarians to call, fields and fencing to maintain, and laundry to do. There are no days off, no vacations, and barely time for dinner. Yet, both Joe and Cheryl agree that their work with the animals is of utmost importance. “They want the same things I want and you want—they want safety, love, food, and protection. Like everyone else,” says Joe. “Our joy is the animals,” says Cheryl.

Although Bob was not with them for long (he passed away while he was still quite young), and is “on to doing something else,” says Joe, the animals (including more yaks, alpacas, sheep, cows, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and many more) that have come in his wake have found their home. 

It’s as if it was meant to be. “There are no coincidences,” says Joe.

During the month of July, when you say “yes” to the question at the cash register, “Would you like to round up to the nearest dollar,” know that you too are part of  Bob’s mission to Be the Change. If you would like more information about volunteer opportunities, how to donate, or to schedule a visit contact Karma Bob's Backyard Animal Refuge at, Facebook, or their new website

*Both Joe and Cheryl were active member-owners and employees at the Central Avenue HW location.

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