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A Dream Vacation for any animal lover!
My vacation to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary was an extraordinary experience to a very special place and should be a destination on top of any animal lovers list. The sanctuary is on 3,700 acres nestled in the magic of Angel Canyon near the sprawling red rocks of Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell. The sanctuary is home to approximately 1,600 animals. There are dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, pigs and other barnyard animals that are here from all over the country. Approximately 30,000 people visit every year to meet the animals and tour what has become the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. Best Friends is dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters.
We started our visit with the free guided “Grand Sanctuary” tour. This was a two hour tour, starting with a brief video at the Welcome Center and then a 90 minute van ride through the sanctuary. The staff is very friendly and is extremely knowledgeable about all of the animals and their care. First stop was the cat building to interact with some of the cats and then on to the dog building where we meet a very special dog named Joy. Joy is an American Pit Bull Terrier / Chinese Shar-Pei / Mix. She is a senior and her coloring is tan, yellow, and fawn with white. She was very friendly and eager to please people. Just a sweet, sweet girl that loved to be touched.
Joy has Babesia, a blood disorder usually picked up from a tick bite. Because it can be transmitted among dogs, Joy must be an only child. But she definitely was willing to give as much love as an entire pack! She was born in 2006, and is very smart, outgoing and loves to run and play. She definitely touched all of our hearts that day.
Our second tour that afternoon was of Dogtown. We first visited the puppy house and were able to interact with several of the puppies that were available for adoption. They were so cute and playful! Then we went on to visit several of the dog areas and got to learn about how they introduce new dogs into a dog run. It was very interesting watching the dogs go through this process. Only about 50% of the dog introductions are successful but the staff keeps trying different runs until they find a good match.
We ended our tour in Angels Rest cemetery. Angels Rest is where there are over 8,000 special animals placed to rest among 1,400 wind chimes. There is always a breeze in the canyon and the sound of the wind chimes is very peaceful sound.
The next day started in Dogtown volunteering with the 1 to 3 year old dogs. The morning shift was filled with walking the dogs on the canyon paths and giving them a lot of special attention. We even got to give a special dog named Pancake a ride in the car. She was just a mommy and didn’t like to take long walks but loved car ride.
For lunch we took advantage of the five dollar buffet and it did not disappoint. The buffet is vegan with an extensive salad bar and a hot dish. It was very good and we were able to enjoy eating our lunch from the outdoor patio with an awesome view of the canyon.
The afternoon shift consisted of helping out with some daily tasks such as assisting with the cleaning of the kennels, feeding and spending quiet time socializing with the dogs. We enjoyed spending some quality play time with several of our favorite dogs.
The sanctuary does allow volunteers to take a pet on a sleepover but unfortunately our motel room wasn’t very contusive to pull off this opportunity. But on our next trip we plan on staying in one of the cabins right on the premises so we can take a pet on a sleepover to provide a meaningful break and some needed extra quality time.
Our last volunteering opportunity was in the bunny house where over 80 bunnies are housed. Some of our tasked consisted of cleaning runs, poop scooping runs, filling water bowls, chopping and feeding them lots of lettuce and socializing with them. We really enjoyed our time with the knowledgeable, friendly staff and all of the bunnies.
I very much enjoyed my volunteering vacation experience and look forward to my next visit. I was inspired most by seeing the dedication of all the volunteers and staff. Getting to know the staff was very fulfilling. Several of the folks that we meet were giving their time in retirement to give back to their community and many others moved to the area because they believe strongly in the mission of Best Friends Animal Society and what they are trying to accomplish. The goal to Save Them All® will definitely be achieved because of so many dedicated people.
Donate to Best Friends bestfriends.org
BY JEANNE JACOBS