The actress feels blessed to live with dogs, miniature donkeys and horses

By Jenisha Watts
Updated May 25, 2011 02:00 AM

Two years ago, Wendie Malick lost both her dogs. Her husband, Richard Erickson, told her, “You know, when the time is right, one will find you.”

Erickson’s words turned out to be true, and then some. The Hot in Cleveland star has since been found by two more dogs, three horses and two miniature donkeys, who all live with Malick on her ranch.

The two dogs, both rescues from a shelter, have “such unique, amazing, remarkable personalities, and there is something about those two that run the full spectrum of why we love having dogs in our lives.”

Zoe, a 4-year-old shepherd mix who was found on the street, cowering with a thin frame, is now a fiercely loving guard dog. “She would lay down her life for us,” Malick told PEOPLE Pets at Farm Sanctuary’s 25th Anniversay Gala earlier this month. “I can see that trust in her and feel so honored to be her caretaker and her friend.”

Miles, a 1-year-old black Lab, is “very large and incredibly sweet and dear,” Malick said. “Miles just needs to be loving us. He’s kind of a big doofus, but in the sweetest way, with the hugest heart in the world.”

Of her three horses, one is Malick’s “baby.” An avid rescuer, she asked her husband if she could breed a horse. “I never had kids,” she said, “so I thought I was allowed to have one baby.” When the colt was born, Malick stayed in her barn for two nights and bonded with him.

“He knows my scent as well as his mother’s,” Malick said. “He is like a giant, 1,000-lb. kid.”

And how did two miniature donkeys ended up at the ranch? Luca and Geronimo, as they’re called, “needed a place to stay” after their owner, a friend of Malick’s, had to leave his ranch.

“They’re such incredibly little animals,” Malick said. “They have so much personality and are so focused. We have fallen madly in love with them.”

Seven animals may seem like a lot, but for Malick, they’re a joy. “We are so lucky,” she said. “I consider myself so blessed to have animals.”