Who’s Helping Whom?

Zach and Oasis the Mastiff Girl

The burned puppies. The mastiff found in the desert and 60 pounds underweight. The one with its ears cut off and then abandoned. The shelters packed with healthy dogs heading for euthanasia. It’s really difficult to imagine those things, isn’t it? Witnessing this steady stream of cruelty and sadness on a daily basis is easily enough to drive you to drink. Or, maybe it’s enough to make you stop.

Looking at Zach Skow today, you see a handsome guy in his early 30’s, healthy and fit. And he is that. If you googled “quintessential SoCal guy”, his picture would pop up and you might say to yourself, “well, you know that guy’s had a charmed life.” But the reality is that just a few years ago he was almost at his end, he’d been drinking himself to death since he was a teenager. By age 28 in 2009, Zach had no will to live, he knew he was going to die, and although he was offered a liver transplant, the first requirement was to stay sober for six months and get into better shape. But where do you begin?

Well, a funny thing happened on the road to sobriety. Or maybe a funny thing happened on the way to saving a few dogs. Either way you look at it, it’s an amazing and inspiring feat. Zach was living with his dad on his 16-acre property in Tehachapi, California. There were a few rescue dogs that his dad had taken in, and Zach began taking them on short walks. Then longer walks. And then more walks. Zach began to feel better, because he was better. The dogs were also doing better, and gradually their numbers grew. And so began Marley’s Mutts.

Dogs from Marley's Mutts in Tehachapi, California

In just a few short years and many walks later, Zach has saved somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 dogs. He’s built a trustworthy network of foster homes and a good rapport with local veterinarians and shelters. Recently he’s been able to add a few extra folks to help, including an amazing trainer. So Zach and his dog Marley (a Rottweiler/Pitt Bull mix and the organization’s namesake) take it a day at a time, rescuing, socializing and finding homes for as many dogs as they can. As a part of their mission, the group caters to larger dogs, although not exclusively. But most importantly, as stated on their website: “strays, derelicts, vagrants and hobos often need to be correctly socialized—and that is what we specialize in.” From the looks of these faces, I’d say Zach is doing a spectacular job. If you didn’t know better, you’d think these happy dogs had never suffered a dark day.

Zach Skow and his mutts in Tehachapi, California

Zach and his Marley’s Mutts have been getting more and more media attention lately, whether it’s to promote addiction recovery or dog rescue. Oprah likes him, he’ll be featured on Dr. Drew’s show sometime this month, and he’s spreading the word however he can. At some point down the road, don’t be surprised if Zach is instrumental in developing some type of program to help others facing addiction to become sober with the aid of a dog. As Zach has shown already, anything is possible. And a lovely testament to the strength of the human spirit, and the canine spirit as well.

If you would like to donate to Marley’s Mutts, learn more about them, or see the adoptable dogs, please visit their website here. You can also like their Facebook page here.
There is also a great article on Zach’s recovery here.

All photos courtesy Marley’s Mutts

29 thoughts on “Who’s Helping Whom?

  1. The look on that dog’s face, the one who is laying his head on Zach’s shoulder while he drives… does that ever pull on the heart strings! Such an amazing story. Dogs, helping people, helping dogs. That’s a great circle to be a part of! Go Zach!

  2. I live in Tehachapi and see Zach and his mutts around town all the time. The best thing about him is that what you see is what you get and he literally always has a dog with him and always has their amazing story to tell. You can’t walk into local businesses without seeing his hallmark posters of a dog and their story, so eloquently told that you just want to adopt two or three right away. That to me is his greatest gift. The ability to really see each animal for who they are and to tell “their” recovery story. It’s a beautiful thing to witness!

    • Thanks for the firsthand account, he really sounds like a celebrity around town! He seems to have such an amazing gift, all the dogs in the photos with him look so comfortable and at ease. I hope I can meet him in person one day myself and shake his hand!

      • Zach is a great Person… and definitly somewhat of a celeb here in Tehachapi.. I just took the dog I was fostering for Marleys Mutts to get adopted, and Zach showed up with Baloo.. Always has a dog with him!

  3. What an amazing story! And those dogs are just too precious. It’s so inspiring when someone finds his way by helping humanity. Those dogs being adopted are also hopefully going on to change their new owners’ lives too. So heartwarming!

  4. This is such an amazing story. . . You know he is in good hands when Oprah likes him – if she likes you, you don’t have to worry much – your word will be spread. This makes me even more sure we need more than one dog. I do not need to fight an addiction – but I can’t imagine my life without dogs.

  5. Pingback: Request from Marley’s Mutts |

  6. You did a great job putting this together and it was a real pleasure chatting with you. You are definitely talented and I hope that your Blog “blows up”! Thanks again.
    Z and the Mutts

    • Hey Zach, thanks for your comment and I’m happy you liked the post. Your kind words came at a good time, really cheered me up. My dog Nicholas is 13-1/2 and isn’t doing too well, so I’m facing that time we all dread but also trying everything I can. He has dementia, so he’s pacing and getting stuck in corners, etc. So your words were definitely a bright spot yesterday! Hope all’s well with you and the mutts, and so sorry about Harry Potter.

      • Oh, and I forgot to say, I hope the products I’m designing and having made in Italy “blow up” so I can start channeling some profits your way to save more hobo dogs!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s