Rebekah of Sunnybrook Farm: Holistic Pet Care and Boarding, Down-Home Style
Jul 28, 2011 09:35AM
By Linda Sechrist
Rebekah Peterman lives on Sunnybrook Farm. While her 2.8-acre homestead bears no visual resemblance to the storybook farm created by author Kate Douglas Wiggins in her classic American children’s novel, Peterman is every bit as magical, insightful and creative as Wiggins’ central character, Rebecca Rowena Randall.
An imaginative young woman with indomitable spirit, Peterman has been an animal lover since she left her mother’s womb. The visible evidence of this endearing quality is the hospitality of her one-bedroom home, which is enjoyed by canines in need of boarding or specialized care. “I gutted my home and turned it into a doghouse,” jokes Peterman. “I have my bedroom and the dogs have the rest of the house for rehabilitation and socializing.”
The exclusive alternative to traditional boarding evolved from Peterman’s busy pet sitting business, which she started in 2005. Driving around to care for the pets of vacationing clients became overwhelming when Peterman’s academic studies in holistic methodologies such as homeopathy, acupressure and clinical herbalism grew more demanding. “While I was putting myself through school, I decided to work smarter by taking the dogs to my home, so I could study and care for them all in one place,” Peterman explains.
When her grandmother died last year, Peterman moved inland, 30 minutes from the Encinitas coastal home where her business began, into her grandmother’s house, now Sunnybrook Farm. “I miss the beach, but what I have to offer clients here in my amazing space, with its own private pine tree forest and dog park, makes up for the loss,” notes Peterman, who still enjoys occasional beach time before she picks up her new four-legged friends. Clients give her dog paradise high praise on the Internet rating service Yelp.
Peterman has worked extensively in pet stores and veterinary clinics, gaining comprehensive exposure to pet maladies and treatments. These experiences inspired her to study non-invasive, safe and healthy ways to work with their traumas, such as separation anxiety and depression and chronic diseases, including allergies, arthritis and cancer.
Depending upon the condition, this holistic animal practitioner is as likely to treat her furry clients with a diet of brown rice, chicken and locally grown carrots, parsnips, collard greens and sweet potatoes as she is with probiotics, Reiki, herbal tinctures, warm herbal tea fomentations and aromatherapy. “I do individualized diets, because each animal has a different dietary need, and many dogs I work with have allergies, but when we change their diet, their body is allowed to heal itself,” Peterman advises.
Pointing to oat grass, red clover, parsley and alfalfa she grows in pots near the house, Peterman explains that she is making them accessible to her canine house guests that naturally self-medicate. “It’s amazing to watch a dog when they find something in the yard that their body is craving—they eat it without any encouragement,” she advises.
Peterman’s ambition is to help owners care for their pets naturally. An appreciation of their intricate relationship is the catalyst behind her desire to revolutionize the way animal guardians resolve their pets’ issues. Certified in homeopathy, trained in the use of flower essences and a student member of the American Herbalists Guild, Peterman continues to educate herself in order to better serve her clients and community.