Monday, December 22, 2008

My Trip to Best Friends - Part Three

The second full day of volunteering started with a Puppy Socialization class (!!) Best Friends was having problems with many new puppy adopters returning the dogs due to behavioral issues. They have implemented puppy socialization for 30 minutes each day. We were lucky enough to be in on the first day for this group of littermates found dumped in the desert. (To contrast that unhappy start, they were all given Beach names - mine was Virginia and Bonnie's was Vero). We spent our time in a bleached outdoor pen holding the puppies on their backs, teaching them to sit (simple to do when their nose follows the treat and their tushies end up on the ground) and even walking with them on a leash. It was amazing what quick learners we all were. The trainer told us that since they have added this program that zero puppies have been returned!

We then headed to Old Friends, my favorite spot. Things run a bit mellower at Old Friends where some dogs aren't necessarily advanced in age, but they need a slower pace and calmer roommates. I spent some time with Lake, a dog who had recently lost her vision. Of course, a special place in my heart is reserved for the blind (& fabulous!) dogs. Another fun girl was Stella. Or as I like to call her name "Stellllluhhhhh!!" She was a big pile of sweetness and fur.
I spent the afternoon volunteering with the kitties and realized once I was inside that I had left my camera in the car. I instantly had 3-5 cats sitting in my lap, rubbing up against me and meowing for attention. The cats are hooked up here: they have indoor-outdoor housing, zero cages, very clean litter boxes, many toys and cubbies and chairs with cushions to sleep on. It was so warm and toasty inside I almost took a nap.

I shall add some photos of other sweet dogs I met:

Me chatting with Tiki on the trail


Friday, December 19, 2008

My Trip to Best Friends - Part Two

Day 2: Before volunteering, we watched a brief safety video which was actually very informative about how to properly enter and unlatch various dog areas. It starred John Garcia, from the Dogtown show. We were in a conference room but unlike any work-related conference room I've ever been in: it had multiple dogs roaming in and out. One I especially liked was a grey, nearly-earless pitbull who was one of the staff member's dog. Before being resuced and spayed, the dog had probably birthed 70+ puppies. She was a sweetheart and a great example of a breed that often gets a bad rap. (I wish I had had my camera with me!)

The first full day of volunteering at Best Friends was met with cold, gray skies. We chose to stay inside and clean dog runs - as opposed to walking dogs in the windy mid-30 degree weather. Uh, I didn't take any photos of me sweeping, mopping or refilling water buckets. I met some friendly - yet very messy dogs, the red sand/dirt which is everywhere doesn't help keep fresly cleaned cement floors clear. Each dog run (indoor and outdoor space with raised beds, fleece blankets and toys) is well thought out: dogs are housed only with dogs of similar or agreeable temperament.

Lunch is available at Angels Village. It is always 100% vegetarian and 200% super yummy. There are amazing views from the open dining area and the open seating is a great way to meet fellow volunteers and staff. I saw Dr. Patti from the Dogtown show. They are like celebrities!

The afternoon was spent walking dogs from a different neighborhood than the one we cleaned - the dogs are not all kept one area, but spread out over the many acres of land, which must help keep the barking noise to a minimum. We got rained on a bit, but nothing too drastic. We picked out our second sleepover dog: Purdy. She is a 12year old girl and each time we told a staff member (whether they were near her living area or not) their faces wouldn't brighten and say how glad they were thatPurdy was getting a sleepover. She was a sweet, mellow (and a bit gassy) girl.

Happy Ending: I just found out that Karina, our first night sleepover dog was adopted and has moved to Colorado with her forever family!! Hooray!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Trip to Best Friends - Part One

I am already assuming my trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary will require multiple entries due to the amount of photos, the variety of things I did and my poor memory.

I first heard about Best Friends in the mid 1990's. I was living in San Diego and started sending donations. I loved the literature I received from BFAS in the mail. The letters weren't filled with photos of near-dead animals attempting to guilt you into sending money. The communications focused on the positive side of being kind to animals and what good can come from that. They do not ignore the sometimes horrible mistreatment, neglect and abuse of animals, it just isn't the main focus of their story. Hooray!

I visited Best Friends in 2003 with my Mom and Aunt. We had a great visit and I vowed to return. Return I did with my friend Bonnie (and as a birthday present to myself). Best Friends has become well known lately thanks in part to the National Geographic show 'Dogtown' I highly recommend checking out this show.

This post will focus on Day 1. I flew into Las Vegas, met up with Bonnie at the airport, got our rental car and drove to Kanab, Utah, about 4 hours away. It is quite the contrast leaving bright, loud, brash Las Vegas and arriving in serene, beautiful, slow-moving Kanab. We checked into our cottage on the property and signed up for our sleepover dog. The sleepover dog program is a win-win situation: visitors get to keep a furry friend overnight and the dogs get to remember or learn what it is like to live in a home environment.

Since we got there late in the afternoon there wasn't time for volunteering, so we were assigned Karina and took her back home. She walked right into the cottage, jumped up on the bed closest to the door and made herself comfortable. We instantly sensed she had done this before! Karina is a very sweet girl (even if a bit gassy at times...lordy!!) She was actually featured on one of the Dogtown episodes, linked here. When we returned her to her run the next morning she turned into a bit of a spaz and acted like a crazy girl when returned to her 'pack'.

Karina, sleepover dog #1

Here are some scenic photos and few of the wonderful dogs I met.

shy Fallon

Rottie in his awesome coat



Thursday, December 4, 2008

9th Anniversary of My 29th Birthday!

My 38th Birthday - that number gives the impression like I am supposed to be an adult or something. Whatever.

I celebrated my pre-birthday at Stone Brewery in Escondido last weekend. I took the brewery tour with some friends and consumed many delicious deceptively-small glasses of the 11th Anniversary Ale. And the Mac'n'Cheese which is not your Kraft dinner macaroni & cheese. A lovely time.

I celebrated my actual birthday by going to work, eating Bronx Pizza, chocolate cake and then hitting the "K9s & Wine" happy hour at an establishment tucked in between the towering downtown hotels. It is a dog-friendly gathering on the patio and we snagged a great table with a mini fire pit to keep us warm: it was in the high 50s outside! The humanity!

The setting was great and the interaction with friends' and strangers' dogs is always entertaining. Toby stayed on my lap most of the time while his pals roamed about: Luna the mix-breed silver-wolfy girl, Dottie the docile Boxer, Olivia the sassy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and last but not least, Lafitte, the handsome debonair French Bulldog.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes and I look forward to my upcoming trip: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah & a spa day in Las Vegas!! My birthday present to myself!!