Forever Farm
Ken Kaplan and Major

This is certainly the case at the Forever Farm. We have an amazing paid staff who take care of the day-to-day needs of our pets: cleaning, feeding, dispensing medications and many other crucial tasks. However, we utilize our volunteer base to provide another key component in that care. That all-important component is socialization. Walking, brushing, petting, any positive interaction with the furry residents is unbelievably important to their happiness.

One of the most wonderful examples of this gift of volunteerism is the recently departed Ken Kaplan. Ken started volunteering in 2009, beginning what would become a beautiful friendship with the canine residents at the Farm. He would make the drive every week from Rabun County, Georgia, with friend and fellow volunteer Peggy Payne, a drive of almost two hours. Each visit would last between two and three hours, followed by the long return trip. This, in and of itself, is a shining example of dedication, and a true mark of his impact on his fellow volunteers, staff, and all the dogs he encountered.

To know Ken was to understand he never arrived with anything but an upbeat, charming disposition. Always armed with a smile and a friendly greeting, it was hard to encounter him and not walk away feeling the same positivity he exuded. He was truly beloved by all who knew him at the farm. The greatest joy, though, was seeing what he meant to all the doggie residents. You could see it in the wag of the tail, the wiggle of the butt. You could see it in their eyes. And it was abundantly clear, he felt the same love for them.

Ken watched many residents come and go over the years, and in spite of the sadness this entails, he continued giving the gift of his kindness to each new addition as if they were the first he had ever met. 

When Ken’s health began to decline a few years ago, sometimes weeks would pass between visits. Every time he returned, the dogs would be overjoyed. We sincerely hope he felt invigorated and inspired by those reactions. When Ken Kaplan left us on September 19, his family and friends lost a kind, compassionate man. The kind of man you don’t meet very often. The dogs at Friends For Life lost one of the very best friends they ever had.