When Kate and Joel Jutagir, the owners of Blackhound Equestrian in Castro Valley, CA, sat down with CEO Ron King at Oscar’s Place in Hopland, CA to discuss adopting some donkeys, they knew this was the right place at the right time to add three amazing animals to their herd of rescued creatures.
The Jutagir family adopted three donkeys from Oscar’s Place—Sandy, Rizzo and Frenchie. They are named after the three legendary Pink Ladies of Rydell High from Grease: Frenchy (played by Didi Conn), Betty Rizzo (Stockard Channing), and Marty Maraschino (Dinah Manoff).
Will these three eventually rule the roost like the Pink Ladies did in Grease? Only time will tell.
Sandy and Rizzo came to Oscar’s Place originally as a bonded pair, and Frenchie is Rizzo’s baby. “They are a perfect little trio, and fitting in here rather nicely,” Kate said. “We see them opening up and getting more comfortable here every day. Frenchie is so cute everyone wants to see the baby; she’s our little star around here at the moment.”
King couldn’t be happier with the adoption after meeting the Jutagirs. “It felt organically perfect,” King said. “Our policy is that we will never break up a bonded pair. Sandy lost her baby, so both she and Rizzo have taken on the job of raising little Frenchie.”
The Jutagir’s “Ron told us that he only wants donkeys to go to a place where their lives can be at least as good as they are at Oscar’s Place, and he told us he believed that we could,” Kate said. “He was so passionate about the donkeys; we fell in love with Ron. When we heard about donkeys' happening and found out about the life Rizzo and Sandy might have had before Oscar’s saved them, we were immediately on board with an adoption.”
Blackhound Equestrian specializes in lessons and customized full-training programs for pleasure and competitive horses and riders of all levels in a supportive community environment. They have a riding school; a training center, and board more than 50 horses on their property.
Here is a brief history about the origins of Blackhound Equestrian. Kate began riding as a four-year-old on the East Coast and never stopped. When she moved to Northern California’s East Bay, Kate found an equestrian world full of fantastic trainers, but nothing that looked like the riding school she had grown up within Chagrin Falls, OH. She knew exactly what she wanted to build--a place that would invest in riders, horsemanship, and the future of the sport. And that’s exactly what she’s done at Blackhound Equestrian.
Joel Jutagir is a former world-class skateboarder who “fully supports everything my wife does; it’s a perfect marriage.” They met in high school and run the place together. After adopting the donkeys, Joel is doing a new routine that he calls his personal “meet and greet” with the latest animals on the property.
“I get down on one knee, and her comes Sandy,” Joel said. “She rests her whole head on my shoulder, and it’s exceptional. The hug lasts for about three minutes, and then she turns around. She is telling me—we had a great hug, now scratch my back, silly!”
Recently Sandy, Rizzo, and Frenchie were the stars in a “donkey mixer”—a wine and cheese event at the equestrian center. “A lady’s group hung out with the donkeys, and everyone (humans and animals alike) really seemed to enjoy themselves. At Oscar’s Place, they did a wonderful job of socializing these sweet animals. They love to interact with kids, adults, and other animals, including our horses, four sheep, two pigs (Petunia and Wilma), and one goat named Newman. It’s a marvelous menagerie and now featuring three beautiful donkeys from Oscar’s Place.”