A Second Life for Cattlemen’s Steakhouse
Pets | August 7, 2019
It’s hard to find a more dramatic transformation. The staffers hear the surprise often at their Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary in Washoe Valley. As one staffer told us, “It’s hard to even tell that it’s the same place.” Staffer Carol Lopez says she often hears, “‘I got engaged at the bar!’ That’s what they normally say here for Cattlemen’s. They can’t believe what we’re doing here.”
No wonder. Before I-580 and the Galena Bridge were built, Highway 395 through Washoe Valley was a busy stretch with thousands of cars passing and stopping by Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, later Washoe Flats. The building is now going through its second life.
Generations of locals celebrated weddings, graduations and retirements here. Small parts of Cattlemen’s, from the horseshoe doorknobs to the ceiling lights remain. After a dramatic rehab, Cattlemen’s is now serving a 4-legged clientele. Where’s the old kitchen? Kristen Ivey told us, “That is the part that still needs to be renovated.
Where customers ate in booths alongside walls decorated with cattle horns, Kristen says “e house dogs in the dining room. We turned each of the little booths into condos, or houses for the dogs.”
What used to be the dance floor is a dog indoor playhouse. The former bar is an indoor activity center. But the majestic fireplace remains, though it’s never used. Kristen and her crew have a higher purpose: rescuing and saving unwanted, homeless dogs. She told me, “We actually get requests for help from all across the United States, even outside the country.”
They are the overlooked…the dogs who fell through the cracks of adoption centers. These are special dogs, ones typically euthanized, that just need extra help. Kristen says “They sit for a lot of years and never get adopted. Or they get adopted and returned over and over. Or they’re labeled unadoptable in the first place.”
Dogs that spent years in shelters and never knew how to be with humans…even how to walk with them, which they finally learn to do here in the back of the building. Inside on a large display are the pictures and urns of dogs that never found a home. There was Atticus, who lived in several shelters and came here for his end of life. And there was Della, who spent her entire life in shelters, never with a family. She came here with 8 weeks left to live. Della enjoyed a day in Tahoe, a picnic in a park and a steak dinner at a staffer’s home before she passed.
There’s no guarantee the dogs here will find a home, but where thousands of locals once enjoyed happy occasions, at least 40 dogs today are doing the same. As Carol Lopez told me, “It definitely works for saving dogs lives.”
The Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary is housing 40 special needs dogs now that are up for adoption. And being a non-profit, always needs volunteers and donations. We have a link to connect with them below: