Written by Ruth Price
Kathy Buono’s smile and laughter light the room as she talks about her passions. For thirty-one years her job with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) relocated her around the country. Having lived in Ohio, Virginia, Hawaii, and Colorado, Kathy is happy to have landed in Salida for her retirement.
Her greatest passion is supporting the rescue of homeless dogs. For years, Kathy and her husband fostered dogs, leading her to become an animal shelter volunteer. Post-retirement, while living in Hawaii, she volunteered sixty hours a week. “Hawaii has a major problem with homeless animals.”
After so many long hours, her plan was to hibernate upon returning to Salida with her husband and their four rescue dogs in 2020. Unexpectedly her wish for quiet was granted as she arrived only three days before COVID’s lockdown.
Not easily deterred, once restrictions were lifted, Kathy checked out the Ark-Valley Humane Society and found it is well-supported. She decided to put her efforts toward the greatest needs and started helping a couple of animal rescue thrift stores, one in Pine and one in Colorado Springs. Kathy buys and repurposes items from yard sales and donates them to the stores.
Her hands communicate enthusiasm as she describes making and gifting snuffle mats. These mats are filled with treats that encourage dogs to use their sense of smell, burn energy while searching for hidden goodies, and slow their eating which reduces stomach pain and bloating. The toy also reduces stress and anxiety, making for happier dogs.
Kathy’s other interests include the Heart of Colorado Fiber Arts Guild, Monarch Quilters, and the Colorado State Button Society. “Great ways to meet people” and learn new skills.
Kathy is concerned about the area’s growth and lack of middle and low-income housing. “When we first came in 2007, it was laid back but now it keeps growing and growing.” She’s worried that lots of people, like the ones she met here early on, won’t be able to live here. “Not everybody can have a high-paying job. People who work in restaurants get priced out of everything. There has to be a solution.”
She identifies the weather (“300 days of sunshine per year”), the genuine people, and the skiing as reasons she loves living here. “When you go to downtown Salida, if you see a sign on the door that says gone skiing, they’re not kidding. The owners are probably wondering why you aren’t at Monarch too.” Though she’s a beginner skier she has the excitement of a pro.