By Janet McAfee
Bill and Silver Martin are now retired and living in a senior apartment in Hemet. They celebrated Valentine’s Day 2023 with a new precious pup named Tulip. They recently adopted Tulip from the Mary Roberts Adoption Center in Riverside. The frightened pup was part of a group of 72 animals removed by animal control from a hoarder. Tulip needs more socialization, and the couple have the time, love, and motivation to help her transform. Every year this column features this animal loving couple who are bonded by their love for each other and our four-legged creatures.
When Bill and Silver first met 50 years ago, the conversation quickly led to the discovery they both loved horses. Silver sold Bill a horse on their first date the next day. Sparks flew when she gave him horse back riding lessons. When they married a year later, together they owned 2 Labrador dogs and 5 horses. Horses and dogs continued to be an important part of their lives bonding them in ways they could not have anticipated.
The couple rode horses with the mounted police in ten Pasadena Rose Parades. Their brood always included at least one rescue horse as they were keenly aware of how majestic horses are sometimes underfed, abused, and discarded.
In 2007, the Martins moved from Rolling Hills to the Coachella Valley. Silver became active in Animal Samaritans where she met and befriended amazing animal advocate Lindi Biggi. Silver became a founding Board member for Loving All Animals, the new charity Lindi founded to help homeless domestic animals. Loving All Animals became a key player in the effort to make the Coachella Valley a “No Kill” community.
Loving All Animals undertook a Herculean effort organizing a 3-day spay/neuter/vaccination event at the Duroville trailer park in rural Thermal. This low-income complex was in federal receivership due to the unsanitary living conditions for the residents. Soon the media, looking for a new angle, reported on the hundreds of stray dogs in and near the community. New housing plans were underway for the human residents. However, strict pet requirements at the new complex would only increase the number of stray animals.
Seven wonderful local veterinarians eagerly signed up for the 3-day shifts in the Duroville church converted into a temporary vet clinic. The dogs poured in, their humans grateful for the free services that included snacks and toys for the children. Some residents helped round up the strays who needed vaccinations, spaying, and other vet services. Coachella Valley animal welfare groups coordinated the rescue of the unclaimed stray pups.
Just as the Duroville event ended, a resident suddenly placed a matted white dog in Silver’s arms. He explained that the homeless animal lived underneath one of the trailers. The pup was soaking wet, covered in mud from the rain, and had no less than 68 ticks imbedded in his fur. The dog’s condition tugged at Silver’s heartstrings. Thom Daves, director of the old Save A Pet shelter, took the dog to his clinic for grooming and vetting. Three days later, the Martins picked up Rolex, now neutered, vaccinated, and looking gorgeous. It was an amazing transformation with Rolex resembling a handsome Bichon.
Silver explains, “Bill is always there to walk our dogs, take them to the dog park, or do whatever they might need. One more dog just meant more love in our lives. They teach us so much about unconditional love. Rolex is the best dog we’ve ever had. He was always by our side, loyal and loving. Rolex was amazing with the other dogs in my pet sitting business. He knew which ones need comforting, and which ones are ready for play.” Rolex passed away in 2022 at the age of 14.
Bill was very involved in Loving All Animals as well. During the time they operated a thrift store in Palm Desert, this personable fellow managed the shop on Sundays. He was the driver when the organization operated limousine tours to local shelters to promote pet adoptions. Evanne Levin recalls, “Bill was so much more than a driver for LAA. He volunteered at all their functions. I attended the last limo tour with Bill, a trip that brought me to happily adopt the first of my two rescues from LAA.”
Silver has some good advice for couples, “Bill is so kind to everyone. He was always there to help with the dogs that came into my pet sitting business. Bill and I don’t always agree, but we never fight about it. We guide each other, and we always kiss good night. We are a team together, loving each other, brought closer now by our love for Tulip!”
Happy Valentines Week! May each of you be blessed to be with loving humans and animals to share your life with!