I wrote a brief post about going out west in early July, but I hadn’t gotten around to a real post so here it is.
One of my favorite charities is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. It is actually a national group that aims to make all shelters “No Kill” by 2025 – a lofty goal. The sanctuary houses about 1700 animals on 3000 acres in Kanab, Utah. I had never visited but I kept hearing what a beautiful place it is to visit so I finally got the time to go. I went with my friend, Lynn, from Montana who does a lot of animal transport from high kill shelters in the west to no kill shelters. I knew she would like to go. She met me at the Salt Lake City airport and drove me to Kanab, Utah about 5 hours away in the southern part of the state.
We stayed at a cute little hotel in “downtown” Kanab called the Canyons Boutique Hotel. We signed up to volunteer at Best Friends for the next 2 days. Lynn really wanted to work with the dogs on the first day, but volunteer opportunities in the doggie areas fill up fast and there was no place for her to work on the first day. So we get volunteer in the cat area much to my delight.
|Canyon Boutique Hotel|
Our first job was to walk the cats. Huh? Cat walking. We were in Cat Headquarters where the cats that don’t get along well with other cats live. They each have a nice sized room with outdoor access, but apparently they really enjoy going on walks in pet strollers. The first two we walked were Butch and Bruce. Butch loves to go on rides and whenever he is out of his room, he goes to the lobby and jumps in the stroller waiting for someone to walk him.
Lynn took a picture of me pushing Bruce. He was very attentive and was looking for lizards. After walking about 4 cats in strollers we got to work cleaning rooms – cleaning litter boxes, changing water bowls, sweeping and petting the kitties, of course.
We ate lunch at the Best Friends cafe which is all vegetarian (mostly vegan) for $5.00. It was great food.
Then to the Bunny House for the afternoon volunteering session. We got so lucky because apparently Wednesday afternoon is treat day for the bunnies. To keep them from getting fat, they only get treats on Wednesday and Sundays. We fed them some dried apple snacks. Now some of these bunnies are very human friendly, but a lot were very shy so coaxing them out to give snacks was a bit of a challenge. And you have to give both bunnies in the same room the treats at the same time. If you don’t, one will get jealous of the other and might start a fight. Who knew? The photo below shows two “Lion Head” bunnies who are killer cute. They look like fuzzy slippers. Honey is the one with the brown coloration. I can’t remember the white bunny’s name. Let me just tell you – judging from their rooms – bunnies are MESSY, very, very MESSY. I am glad we didn’t have clean up duty in the bunny house.
That evening we went to a service for the Sanctuary animals who had recently died – crossing the Rainbow Bridge. The service is held at a place called Angel’s Rest high in the canyon – very beautiful. It was a lovely service. We cried, of course, but we were happy to hear how loved all these animals were.
We ate that night at a great restaurant in Kanab called Peekaboo Canyon Wood-Fired Restaurant. Again we ate vegetarian and loved it.
The next day we got up early because Lynn got a volunteer spot in one of the dog areas. If you go early you get to choose where you work. Most people choose the puppy room, but Lynn wanted to work in a training area. She actually got admissions and worked with dogs who had recently come to Best Friends. I think she really liked that area.
I got Cat Headquarters again where I started out walking cats, but this time I got to walk 2 cats on a leash!? Cats walk on a leash? Well, barely. Melanie easily walked out the door across the side walk and proceeded to roll over and over in the red sand. She was a dilute colored calico until she started rolling in the red sand, then she turned orangey-red. I was able to get her to walk a little bit by picking her up and moving her away from the Cat Headquarters where she walked on a wall to get back to her familiar building. I cannot remember the name of the second cat I walked, but he would not walk except 6 inches from one grass clump to another. I imagine his room was littered with grass-covered hairballs after my walk with him.
|The beautiful Melanie after rolling in the red sand. Melanie is a 15 year old cat with diabetes who requires daily insulin.|
|Melanie missed a spot so she has to roll some more.|
|Melanie actually walking on a leash.|
|The grass eater cat. I couldn’t get him to walk at all, but you could tell he loved being outside for some grass treats.|
Then I cleaned a few rooms. I cleaned one of the kitten rooms with 3 little rambunctious kittens. After I mopped the floor where they had spilled their water, I went to clean another room while waiting for the floor to dry. I made a serious error and put the food bowl on a counter to let the floor dry. When I went back to their room, they had knocked the food bowl into the water bowl making an even bigger mess than the one I had first encountered. You can’t trust little kittens.
Lynn and I did a tour in the afternoon and got to play with some puppies which was really fun.
|This little boy dog named Etoufee looks exactly like one of Lynn’s dogs. She almost took him home with her.|
|Puppy Attack. Lynn did not mind.|
The most important thing about the visit to Best Friends is that it is so positive and loving and kind. I thought it might be sad, but the Sanctuary personifies the best aspects of the word. It is both a sanctuary for the animals, but also for any human who visits. You will feel love and kindness – something we all need.
I was going to include the side trip to the Grand Canyon in this same post, but I think this post is long enough. The Grand Canyon will have to wait for another day.
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