By Janet McAfee
Bill and Silver Martin celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, their love enhanced by their mutual love for animals. When they first met 48 years ago, their conversation quickly led to a discovery of how they both loved horses. On their first date the following day, Silver sold Bill a horse and ended up giving riding lessons to her new beau. At the time of their wedding the following year, they owned two black lab dogs and five horses. Horses and dogs continued to be a part of their life together.
Bill and Silver rode horses with the Long Beach mounted police in ten Rose Parades and many other events. Their horses always included at least one rescue horse, as they were keenly aware of how the majestic horses are sometimes abused and discarded. Silver fondly recalls her special rescue horse, Galiano, who slowly came out of his shell to show love and gratitude after being horribly mistreated.
In 2007, the Martins moved from Rolling Hills and became full time Coachella Valley residents. Silver became active in Animal Samaritans where she met and befriended Lindi Biggi. In 2008, Silver became a founding member and Board Member for Loving All Animals, a new charity Lindi founded to help homeless animals.
In 2010, the story of Duroville went viral in the local news. This dilapidated migrant worker trailer park in Thermal went into federal receivership due to the unsanitary living conditions for the people there. 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, pet restrictions at the new complex would only increase the number of stray animals.
Loving All Animals decided to help the dogs in and near Duroville. Seven wonderful local veterinarians eagerly signed up for the 3-day shifts in the Duroville church, now 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 that 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.
The couple had three other dogs at the time, but Rolex fit perfectly into their pack. 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’s always by our side, loyal and loving. Rolex is amazing with the other dogs that arrive for my pet sitting business. He knows which ones need comforting, and which ones are ready for play. He patiently welcomes each new dog, helping them adjust to the surroundings.”
Now a senior, 12-year-old Rolex is a poster dog for rescue. Rolex is an important member of Bill and Silver’s family, an integral part of all the events in their lives. Their love for dogs keeps this couple’s love even more special as they approach their fifth decade together. Bill and Silver’s motto is “Love Me, Love My Animals”.