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Meet Jodie Diegel of SOUL Harbour Ranch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jodie Diegel.

Jodie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My dream had always been to help others through animals via animal-assisted therapy. Our golden retriever “Buffett” (as in Jimmy, yes, I’m a parrot head) was the perfect opportunity. He came home in March 2010 and started training in obedience classes as a puppy. He progressed and by 2011 he was accepted into the AAT program (animal assisted therapy) at Northwest Community Hospital.

Our yellow lab rescue Dudley also became a registered therapy dog through the same well-structured elite program that has approximately 80 dog teams! (An Animal is never registered by itself and a registered therapy animal must pass with each person that handles them at Visits).

At the end of 2012 I saw an ad for miniature therapy horses, saw that people were using mini horses and my mission became to start a nonprofit whereby I could train the horses, bring on volunteers (I work full time as an RN so I needed help to carry out my mission), and visit those in need.

I founded Mane in Heaven with 3 miniature therapy horses that I bought and brought on volunteers. I was the President and leader of Mane in Heaven for 6 years and we had AMAZING visits throughout the Chicagoland area. My husband and I bought a home on 5 Acres in Barrington with the future plan to host a training and therapy center on-site while we also continued to visit off-site at hospitals, nursing homes, homes for the disabled, at-risk youth, domestic violence shelters, etc.

As a true advocate for my herd of horses and in order to keep them together, which now totaled 7, in January 2018 my horses and many volunteers who were previously registered with them, joined a new nonprofit that I founded, the SOUL Harbour Ranch Animal therapy program. Our program created the mission of enriching lives while rooting the healing benefits of the human-animal bond while advocating for the highest animal therapy standards possible. Our program developed values which are the foundation of this program.

In addition, we added 2 miniature horses, 4 miniature therapy donkeys in training, and my 2 Registered therapy dogs to the program. Our home, the SOUL Harbour Ranch, is truly a place for Sharing Of Unconditional Love (SOUL). We are a new nonprofit but we offer the most experienced miniature therapy horse teams in the Chicagoland area.

We look forward to more expanding programs, fun fundraisers (since we don’t charge for visits we rely solely on fundraising, donations and grants) and one day, a big barn to host even more therapy and training sessions! In the meantime, we continue to build a presence in the Chicagoland area as the SOUL Harbour Ranch animal therapy Program and share our special animals through SOUL to SOUL connections each and every day.

Has it been a smooth road?
Smooth? A journey is never smooth! My heart and SOUL was building up one organization, struggling the first year not knowing if it would be successful. Spending every weekend training minis, doing social media promotion, developing a website, making community contacts, training new volunteers…. and then changes happen and the next thing you know, it’s in the best interest to change course and start anew.

While it was a difficult parting, my goal and passion has always been to help as many people through animal-assisted therapy. Both organizations are now living my dream and fulfilling my mission. I’m very proud of that!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with SOUL Harbour Ranch – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The SOUL Harbour Ranch Animal therapy Program is the largest and has the most experienced miniature therapy horse teams in the Chicagoland area, as some of our teams have been registered since 2013. We value the bond we have with our animals and advocate for them in everything we do. Our professionalism and integrity sets us apart. We abide by the policies as set forth by the National therapy Animal organization Pet Partners.

I am most proud of that professionalism and integrity as well as our advocacy for our animals. Our mini therapy horses, mini therapy donkeys and therapy dogs are SO loved! They bring such Love, joy, comfort and healing to others which is my dream, my heart and my passion.

I am most proud of our animals and the volunteers of the SOUL Harbour Ranch Animal therapy program! (Plus I have the extra bonus that my husband Jerry is now involved… so grateful for his help, love and support as he now understands what our animals do for humans, include By him. 🙂

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Chicago is such a vibrant diverse city. I work downtown and everything from the best food, entertainment, architecture, the river and the lake… it’s just the most amazing city! I love being able to drive to our home in the “country” though where our animals are!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 22093 N Countryside Lane Barrington IL 60010
  • Website: Www.soulharbourranch.com
  • Phone: 855-408-7685
  • Email: soulharbourranch@gmail.com
  • Instagram: Soul Harbour Ranch
  • Facebook: Soul Harbour Ranch
  • Twitter: Soulharbourranch

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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