The Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch
By Kylie Blanchard
Photography: Photos by Jacy
Service to country, service to animals, and service to others summarizes the gifts Lila Teunissen and Michelle Thomsen are sharing. Both full-time members of the North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) and owners of the Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch, the two also share a list of other organizations they serve with their time and dedication.
“Feeling like you are making a difference in others’ lives and your community is so rewarding,” Michelle says. “That is the greatest benefit for me in all of these different roles.”
SERVICE TO COUNTRY
Lila joined the military following high school and Michelle enlisted during high school.
“Tuition assistance is what drew me to the military,” Michelle says. “I graduated from North Dakota State University in December 2002 and planned on getting out in 2005; however, in 2003, I was mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was on deployment I realized that the U.S. military was amazing and had unlimited capabilities.
“My deployment really made me think about what was important in life. Perhaps it was the growth in deployment that allowed me to realize how truly wonderful animals are, as well.”
After she returned from deployment, Michelle worked full-time for the military as a chemical specialist before attending law school and Officer Basic Leadership Course to become a military intelligence officer. She then deployed to Kosovo and, upon her return, completed law school. In 2013, she became a Judge Advocate for the NDNG.
Lila served as a medic in the NDNG and then as a linguist abroad. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in microbiology through an ROTC scholarship and returned to active duty, traveling to Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Iraq, and Korea. She then joined the Montana National Guard before returning to the NDNG.
“The military was a career choice,” Lila notes. “I knew I wanted to travel and see the world, and the military was a way to do that.
“The military provided the opportunity to try multiple career fields. You learn you have to figure it out and accomplish the mission, and this was invaluable in starting a business.”
SERVICE TO ANIMALS
“Since the day I was born, I have loved every animal,” Lila says. “I was the kid who brought home stray animals after school.”
She says the idea for the Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch developed from discussions with Michelle, also a long-time animal lover and advocate.
“We started talking about how there was a shortage of places to take dogs when people had military drill,” Lila says. “Then this land became available in the right place and at the right price range.”
The two decided to take a look at the property.
“When we walked into the front door there were a pair of combat boots. I took that as a sign,” Michelle says. “Then there was a bag from the Race for Rescues, a fun run for the Central Dakota Humane Society (CDHS). I knew it was a sign.”
In February 2018, the friends, and now business partners, purchased the property, located northeast of Bismarck, and got to work converting it to the Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch.
“We did a complete remodel of the property’s pole barn to make it our kennel facility,” Lila says. “We put in a lot of sweat equity. It’s been incredible and so busy getting everything up and running.”
The 40-acre Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch opened in November 2018 and houses 30 kennels and six cat condos as well as grooming, training, and doggy daycare. While the original plan was to wait to open a kennel until after Lila’s retirement from the NDNG, the business partners are glad they jumped at this opportunity.
“The other day we stopped and said, ‘We have employees and we are providing jobs and income for others.’ It is very humbling,” Lila says.
“We are busier and busier every month,” Lila notes. “We want to expand our efforts to include agility courses, scent training, and behavior modification.”
Lila’s retirement is set for July 2020, and she then plans to work at the Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch full time. Michelle will remain with the NDNG but will continue to play a vital role in the ranch’s operations.
The mission of the Bed ‘n’ Biscuit Ranch is “to care for those that have forever homes so we can help support those still searching for theirs,” and Michelle says it remains important to them to give back to all animals.
SERVICE TO OTHERS
Both Michelle and Lila are active volunteers with Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue and the CDHS, with Michelle planning the first CDHS Race for Rescues, now an annual event. The friends also volunteer with Team Red, White, and Blue, and Lila has also volunteered with Big Brother Big Sister and Rebuilding Together.
“When you volunteer, you are there to help and accomplish something together,” Lila says. “It builds community and gives you a sense of purpose.”
“There are so many benefits to volunteering,” Michelle adds. “But I always tell people, you will get back more than you ever give.”