The next two weeks will have some posts that are a bit off topic as I complete a vacation and ultra race combination. Today’s post is about the wonderful people at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. This is the ultimate animal rescue located in Kanab Utah. We built our trip this year around a stay and volunteering slot at Best Friends as my wife has been a huge fan for some time and I have learned more and more about them over the years.
The experience is wonderful. We stayed several days in Kanab as it is central to several major national parks. Zion, Bryce Canyone, Grand Staircase, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are all within two hours. We will have visited them all once the trip is through, including a 50K race at the Grand Canyon.
One of our mornings in Kanab we went and took the Best Friends tour, which is about two hours long. They seem to regularly run them. We figured we would get it in in the morning before going off to explore Grand Staircase and watch the stars at Bryce later that night.
It was a great experience. They took us around the amazing and huge facility. They take care of all types of animals that have been through just about any hardship you can imagine. Rescuing them to allow them to live out their lives there, if they are not adopted. You can adopt there as well and many people adopt and volunteer. The tour showed us pigs, horses, mules, bunnies, cats, birds, and of course dogs, which were the core of our trip. We got to feed a dog and pet many cats on the tour and learn all about how things operate. It was a good intro before coming back the next day to volunteer and then take a dog home with us for the night.
They have a program where you can take one of the dogs that is ready for home visits out to give them practice in the real world. We rented a cabin at Best Friends, though you don’t have to. You can take to one of the local pet friendly hotels as well. The cabins there are fine though for a couple. They also have bigger cottages that we didn’t see that may be more suitable for a family. The cabins have a kitchenette with microwave and fridge and nice shower and TV with satellite. Everything you could need for a quick stay, even if your time wasn’t taken up playing with the dog and taking him downtown for some patio dining. (Some dogs are allowed to go to patio dining but you have to ask for that)
Anyway, the volunteering part can be just about anything with any animal. We had requested dog town, which is what they call the dog area, and had a show about it and in it several years ago. However, once you get to Dogtown headquarters, they send you off to the different areas. There is a puppy area, an older dog area, and then the regular adult area. They also have a clinic and you can volunteer to even do laundry or whatever way you are comfortable in helping. They said they needed help at the adult dog section so we went there. You can request a specific area and if they have space, you can go there. We weren’t too particular and just went where they suggested.
Once we got there they offered us dog walking, which was basically what we were hoping for. We spent the morning walking all types of dogs. Our first pair (for the most part they gave us pairs of dogs that we could walk together, so we could be together) was Macaroni and Alvis. Macaroni is the one trying to kiss Karen’s face in the picture. Macaroni was all about love. Just wanted to kiss you and rub up against you. He was the most affectionate of all the dogs we walked. Alvis didn’t get around as well but was very sweet. They were a good pair. We did try one very nervous dog name Hoss that ended up just stopping dead in his tracks and refused to go, so Karen went on with her dog and Hoss went back. He is still getting used to walks and sometimes gets too nervous.
They gave me another dog Ozzie, which ended up being one of my favorites for the day. He had been injured and wasn’t allowed to dig much with his paws, except for on walks. They have him in a concrete area but I guess it is ok to do it a little bit on walks. Every time he went to the bathroom he got so excited kicking and digging the ground to cover it up as dogs do. Just completely elated. He was fun. When I finished his walk, Karen was waiting and we took out a few more pairs.
When we had first gotten there and seen the dogs inside, we noticed that one dog Spike, was very calm, surrounded by mayhem. His buddy next to him was jumping all over him and nipping at him and he just accepted it. We learned that he was a take home dog and allowed to go on patios, so toward the end of our session we asked if we could walk him. He wasn’t too excited to get going. You can tell he is used to going out in cars because he went right over to a car that was parked there. Once he realized it was just a walk and not the car he wasn’t too excited to go and he was a tougher walk but we got around. Everyone said he was a sweetheart and Karen decided he would be the one we took to our cabin.
We went and did the paperwork and got the supplies to take him. We went in to town for lunch before heading back to check in to our cabin and pick up Spike at the right time. Around 2:30 to 3. Spike hopped right in the car and we took him to the cabin for a while before going in to town. Spike is extremely relaxed and acts a bit older than the 6 years they think he is, but would be perfect for a family with a small child. He pretty much just lays there and takes anything that comes his way. Karen helped him up on the bed at the cabin and he just kind of zonked out. We offered him toys but he just relaxed. We petted him and enjoyed him up to dinner time when we took him in to the Rolling V, a pet friendly restaurant in town with patio seating.
He was great there. We got many compliments there about how well behaved he was. He just plopped down next to the table while we ate and gave him treats from time to time. I really hope someone adopts him because he has the perfect temperament for a family, even if he doesn’t move too fast.
We had a great time with him walking him a bit and he is a bit of a beg hog and snuggles in to you a lot. For his size, that doesn’t make for the most restful night of sleep, but he was totally worth it and it was a wonderful and rewarding experience. If you are a national park fan and an animal lover, I would highly recommend Best Friends as well as all of these national parks. They were all amazing in their own unique way. I think we liked Bryce Canyon most of all, but that was partly because the trail I was most excited about in Zion, The Narrows, was closed. All amazing experiences. Great to help support Best Friends in any way. If you can’t get out there, just send them a dollar or two. They are doing amazing work out there.