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Doggy Dude Ranch

Gone to the Dogs … and Loving It WRITTEN BY Kim Konikow | PHOTOS PROVIDED BY Doggy Dude Ranch

The 10-acre Doggy Dude Ranch nestles between the towns of Rockville and Springdale near Zion National Park. It is a place where many dogs, cats, horses and even camels have enjoyed loving care while on vacation from their vacationing humans.

Republic kept her connected to family, and it was there that her comfort in nature and interest in animals became evident. Her first love was a small burro that she demanded to bathe with … Her doting grandparents allowed the burro to place its two front feet in the metal tub with Filly; and then a second bath ensued!

ith the holiday season approaching and holiday lights in place, plans are under way for special meals for all pet boarders (dietary restrictions taken into account). And at Christmas all the visiting animals receive gifts and a have a portrait photo session dressed in holiday attire – a perfect gift for their humans! You’ll know your darling is in very capable hands at the Doggy Dude Ranch (DDR).


As an only child, Filly always had a focused determination. By the age of three she was telling everyone, strangers and acquaintances alike, how to take care of their pets. An early dream came true when she bought her first horse that stabled near their apartment building in crowded New York City. Quite the partier as a young adult, she’d spend her nights as part of the disco scene, then would turn the horse loose in the arena – while still wearing her heels – to keep herself grounded.

The heart and soul of Doggy Dude Ranch is Filomena Diaz-Johnson, also known as Filly. Originally from New York City, she was a city girl with a country heart. Frequent trips back to the Dominican

Her daughter Daniella came early in life. Mornings now had a greater purpose for Filly, thinking of her baby, her horse and the largeness of the universe. Her first husband wanted her to fulfill her


dreams of “a huge piece of property with all the animals I wanted and a great open place to raise my daughter” so they traveled across the country and landed in Utah. The DDR site literally spoke to her on her daily drives, “I am yours.” Filly would laugh because she had no savings, but the seed was planted. In 1990 her dream became reality and the plot was hers. The Doggy Dude Ranch became a reality. “I believed at a very early age that you should never let others see you sweat. People often stand in their own way, and can’t move forward. I recognize that nobody ever travels as fast as I do or want them to – but it’s not right for me to put that on others. I continue to work on that; I have my private little pity party, and then go on. I work out how the adversity will allow me to do something that I might not have been able to do before.”

Filomena is one of the most respected members of the Zion Canyon community. Rockville Mayor Allen Brown says Filly is one of the most generous and honest people he knows. His wife, painter Anne Weiler-Brown, concurs. She also said of her friend, “Some of the reasons I admire Filly so is her ability to build a fence, analyze a problem, pitch manure, calm a sick animal, drink a dirty martini, change a diaper, comfort the dying, cooperate, act alone, praise appropriately, plan a party, program a computer and still wear 4-inch heels all night.” Filly has taken care of thousands of animals for over the past 43 years. She has been fortunate enough to work with several wonderful large/small animal vets and trainers. Her animal behavior and kenneling education continues through classes and seminars with some of the top behaviorists and trainers in America, including Ian Dunbar, Patricia McConnell and Cesar Millan. She is a member

Filomena and Prince

of many national and local professional animal organizations and also personally fosters dogs whose families are in crisis. The DDR slogan is “Large and Small, We Love Them All.” Puppies and seniors are welcome as well as special-needs dogs that require individualized care. Services include boarding, day-care, training, playtime, some grooming and health care, and behavioral guidance. Her current focus is on encouraging dogs to grow into confident companions via “Pawsitive Learning” classes. There is a great diversity of people who come through the Zion area, and many have become friends with DDR’s owner. Police Officer James Duncan of Hemet in Riverside County, California, is a repeat visitor and he finally took his dog to DDR in the early 1990s. From


the moment he met Filly, he recognized how well the dog would be well cared for. “She was genuine, unpretentious and respectful with a great personality. I instantly became more comfortable, as it was evident this was not just a business but came from her heart.” Duncan is extremely proud of her and the effort she’s put in over the years. “There wasn’t much on that lot back then … but she’s proven what hard work and tenacity can achieve. Filomena doesn’t ask for much but will give you the shirt off her back. I want these kinds of people in my life! We consider them family.” Filly is happiest when out in open spaces, but she is also still very comfortable in the big city. During the winter season she gets to be a true fashionista. With her husband, Stephen Johnson, she travels H O L I D AY 2 0 1 1

Dynamic Online Community Where Women Inspire & Encourage Each Other Through Transitions in Life ~ Self-Esteem / Personal Growth ~ Support Services ~ Health & Beauty ~ Spirituality ~ Business / Education ~ Finances ~ Family / Parenting Become a member of our online Woman’s Resource Community for as little as $9 a month! to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, among other places, to assist the promoters of high-end Asian and Tribal Antique Shows. Her work includes receiving and shipping show goods, welcoming dealers, logistics management, handling gala details and ticket sales. It is a different environment with her senses filled with art, culture and fine food, and it regenerates her and makes returning to the DDR even sweeter. 435-256-5486

“L arge and Small, We Love Them A ll.”

Her family of animals includes seven dogs, two cats, one citron cockatoo, foster animals, two horses … and a large flock of chickens. Her work with animals is a big part of her life, but she is not complete without the loving support of her husband and daughter, as well as the wonderful “team Doggy Dudes.” Some of Filly’s other passions include art and photography, traveling, trying new foods and, of course, working hard. The more she has, the more her urge to give back increases. It drives her. At DDR, she’s expanding the business to include agility training, dock diving and other dog sports. And as time permits, Filly would like to get involved in writing, video and photography projects for both humans and animals, and pursue a Masters Degree in Human/Animal Behaviors. Once that is achieved, her dream would be to travel the world and work with dogs and humans in other countries. Another dream is specifically for dogs. “I hope that people can really love them for what they are, and not make them less than they are by asking them to be human. Being a dog is truly a wonderful thing.” For herself, Filly wishes for a regular heartbeat. At this writing, she is about to have her second open-heart surgery to replace a worn porcine valve. But there is no doubt that this beautiful and fiery city girl will soon be back at work on her Southern Utah country ranch, dogs nipping at her (high) heels! woman


Yummy Dog Biscuits From Lisa Zumpft Ingredients: 2 pounds good-quality meat or offal – all one kind or any combination of liver, heart, tongue, sweetbread, etc. It can be beef, lamb or pork 3 to 4 cups wheat flour Method: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks. Place the meat in a pot and add just enough water to cover. Boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, then drain, reserving the liquid. Place the meat in a blender or food processor and grind, adding just enough of the cooking liquid to make a smooth, thick paste. Put the mixture in a bowl and add enough flour to make a dough that is not sticky. Roll out the dough and cut into 1/2-inch squares or use a bone-shaped cookie cutter. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees F for at least an hour. Remove and let cool on a wire rack. Let the biscuits sit out uncovered for several days to make sure they are very dry. Then bag them and share with your favorite canine friends!


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49 The 10-acre Doggy Dude Ranch nestles between the towns of Rockville and Springdale near Zion National Park. It is a place where many dogs...