Dog Information Center => Rescue / Foster => Topic started by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 11:28:47 AM

Title: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 11:28:47 AM
I have been a member of Best Friends for a while now. ( A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to go spend a week in Utah and volunteer with them. ( I researched it and decided I wanted to stay in a cottage on the grounds, so I had to make reservations a year ahead of time. I knew I did not want to be there when there is snow and ice on the ground because I don't have much experience in driving in that, and so made my reservations for this last May. ( I let the volunteer coordinator know when I would be there and what areas I was interested in.

I flew into Las Vegas on a Friday morning. Best Friends is a 4 hour drive. I rented a car, then made the drive. It is a gorgeous drive, and most of the roads are small. Kenab Utah has an elevation of 5,000 feet so you are winding your way up with some impressive drop off next to the road. People who have made the trip recommend not doing the drive at night. I reached the sanctuary at about 2:30 and checked in. I had a general orientation and review of my schedule, and a group tour of the sanctuary, which is huge. They have 5 square miles of working area and something like 30,000 acres of wildlife sanctuary. You have to have a car when there, it is too far to walk to all the areas of the sanctuary. After the tour I moved into my cottage, and drove into town to pick up some grocery staples.

Here is information on the cottages:
The Cottages are located on the Sanctuary grounds near the Welcome Center.  Deer, squirrels, horses and goats are your neighbors. The atmosphere is quiet, peaceful and relaxing.  The cottages overlook the horse pastures.

Cottage amenities include:
•   One bedroom, with two double beds and sleeper sofa
•   ¾ bath  (shower, no tub)
•   Kitchenette
•   Small sitting room 
•   Electric heat and air conditioning
•   Satellite television
•   Telephone
•   Wireless internet access

We provide: linens, towels, glasses, dishes, utensils, pots, pans, a small refrigerator, microwave, hot plate, toaster oven, coffee maker, electric hot water kettle, coffee and tea. To accommodate all our guests, the Cottages are non-smoking inside; there are ashtrays and chairs on the balcony.

Friday I was at Dog Town at 8, I think. The first day is a 30 minute group orientation, then 30 minutes socializing with puppies, then you are assigned a section. I was inthe older section, which had a mix of red collar dogs along with the greens and purple. Red collars were for employees only, purple adults only, and green anyone can work with. There was one other volunteer in my area and 2 employees. We spent the morning walking the dogs in the 2 octagons we were assigned to. You walk them first thing because later it is too hot. There are certain dogs who can be walked together, you don't mix it up. After everyone is walked we helped prepare their first meal, each dog has a recipe card that you follow. Feeding is quite structured also, some dogs in the same run have to be separated to eat, some don't. After they finished eating the bowls were picked up and washed, then we had 1.5 hour for lunch. That gives people time to go into town if they want, but the sanctuary has a dining hall with a fresh made vegetarian lunch for $5. It has a beautiful view over Angel Canyon, and I always ate lunch there. After lunch back to the dog area and the afternoon was spent cleaning the runs and buildings. It was HOT. By the end of the day I was drenched in sweat. I went back to cabin, showered and crashed. It took me a couple of days to not be exhausted from the altitude.

Sunday I did the same thing, minus the orientation and puppy socializing

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 11:38:10 AM
Monday and Tuesday I spent in the parrot area. It is another section with it's own buildings and outside aviaries. In the morning they take all the birds out of their inside cages and put them in outside aviaries. Then the first half of the day is spent cleaning the cages. I volunteered to do the Cockatoo room, which had 9 large cages. Cockatoos have a lot of dander that gets on everything. I would washdown all the cages then mop the room. This room was not airconditioned but there were fans and breezes so it wasn't hot. After lunch we socialized with the birds who needed it or sat in a large outside gazebo and made parrot toys. There were many wild turkeys running around the area, it was very peaceful.

I went into town for dinner one night with the people in the cabin next to mine. They had a sleepover dog that they ended up adopting, we ate on the patio of a Mexican restaurant so he could stay with us. The town is used to the dogs, Best Friends is the largest employer in the area.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 11:42:20 AM
Wednesday I spent in the potbellied pig area. They have about 20 pigs. Similar to the dog area, we spent the morning preparing morning meals for each pig off their card, feeding the pigs, picking up the pans and washing. I walked a few of the pigs. They were thrilled to find out I had a lot of PBP experience and knew how to handle them. This was the one area that was within walking distance of my cabin so I just went back to it for lunch. In the afternoon we did the second meal, then I spent some time socializing. It was pretty hot there too.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 11:51:03 AM
Thursday was my last full day there. I was scheduled to be in Dog Town again, but decided to take the day off and spend time looking around the area. It really is gorgeous, and there are several national parks within driving distance. Friday I drove back to Vegas and came home.

I really enjoyed staying on the grounds. The cottages are right next to the horse area. A few nights I woke up in the middle of the night to a donkey braying.  :)  Next time I am there I will spend more time with the pigs, I did not this time because I knew it was a very popular place for volunteers, but the people who work there were REALLY happy to have me with my experience and told me they would love to have more time with me when I go back. Pigs are very different little creatures, and can be difficult to work with. It does help to be familiar with their traits. I would also like to spend a day in the wildlife area.

If you go you can spend as much or as little time volunteering as you want. Some people only volunteered the first half of the day, and not the afternoon to avoid the main heat. Everyone there is really nice and so appreciative of your help. Since being on Nat Geo the numbers of volunteers there each year is steadily climbing, but they are very efficient at scheduling and I got to go to every area I requested.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: minniesmom on October 24, 2009, 12:03:41 PM
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Sounds like a vacation of a lifetime!

Are you planning on going back?

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 12:08:55 PM
These are pictures from my balcony

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 24, 2009, 12:10:30 PM
Currently I have reservations for June, but I may have to cancel if my parents are still having health problems. I will definitely go back sometime though!

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: minniesmom on October 24, 2009, 01:24:10 PM
Beautiful views!

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: janpo1 on October 24, 2009, 04:43:26 PM

What a great time you had and you did so much!

I've watched Dog Town on tv many many times.  I'm waiting for them to run some new episodes.  They seem to do such good things.  I couldn't even imagine being there and helping out! 

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: Angel-Dancer on October 24, 2009, 09:36:52 PM
WOW!!!  How beautiful and an awesome experience.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: Hill on October 24, 2009, 10:33:38 PM
Wow!! That sounds AWESOME! I've wanted to do that for  awhile now I'd want Birds, dogs and Cats!  }jump{

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 25, 2009, 07:40:51 AM
I toured the cats area, it was wonderful. It is really amazing what the founders have done in creating this sanctuary and ensuring it would endure after them.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: iloveshepherds on October 25, 2009, 08:07:21 AM
I didnt know they had a bird and pot bellied pigs there...guess they have everything. It looks so pretty out there...kinda like work and vacation all rolled into one.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: louiseb on October 25, 2009, 08:49:57 AM
They also have horses, one of the horse areas is right outside the cottages, that is the white fencing you see. They even have a couple of miniature horses (who bite) and a couple of donkeys.  The wildlife area is mostly birds of prey who are too injured to be released back into the wild, but they also have ducks, and when I was there a couple of minks who had been raised as pets before their owners gave them up, also a couple of possums raised as pets. Wild animals should not be raised as pets, they outgrow their cuteness and then usually can't be rehabilitated to be released.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: LoveMy2 on October 25, 2009, 09:15:03 AM
What an amazing experience you had. I thought they only rescued dogs and cats too.

I've been thru the Kanab area once ; it is gorgeous out there.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: KivaLuver on October 25, 2009, 10:49:31 AM
What an awesome get away......for the scenery and the activities. It's pretty cool they are so laid back about people do. I hope you get to go back again next year.

Title: Re: Best Friends visit
Post by: KDN on October 26, 2009, 07:32:12 AM
That sounds like an amazing trip!