Best Friends – Old Friends

Preparing a meal for a group is challenging and of course there is always one in the group that’s trying to lose weight. Sue had her hands full, one wanted their lettuce chopped in large pieces, another didn’t want theirs chopped at all. Then their was Sammy, he didn’t like lettuce, so he wanted his chopped so small that he wouldn’t notice it.

Sammy was a special case. He spent most of his life in a kitchen eating like a pig and the result was morbid obesity. His feet became permanently deformed from the weight and his stomach dragged on the ground when he walked. Granted his legs were only a few inches long but he was one sad looking pot belly pig. Luckily for him he was rescued by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab Utah. After a few months on a proper diet he was walking without scrapping his belly and the rolls of fat on his forehead had decreased enough that he could open his eyes again.

Sammy, looking good.

We spent two days volunteering at Best Friends. The sanctuary is known for the rescue of the tough cases like Michael Vicks’ fighting dogs and that’s pretty accurate. They take animals with paralyzed legs, horses that are unrideable or the old dogs that just can’t compete with the cute, little puppies at the animal shelters.

Best Friends has roughly 1,700 dogs, cats, pigs, horses, goats, sheep, birds, rabbits, plus a few wild animals. Their goal is to find homes for these animals but some are just too old or medically complex to be adoptable so Best Friends with their five resident veterinarians will be their final home. For those animals Best Friends is like a nursing home.

During our stay we volunteered in three departments, Old Friends, Piggy Paradise and Rescue Village. Rescue Village is like a triage area containing the sanctuary’s most recent large rescue. Currently it’s filled with rabbits that they rescued from a hoarding situation three years ago. When they agreed to rescue the rabbits they totaled around 800 but by the time they arrived to transport them a month later the colony had ballooned to 1,600. Currently the number is down to a more manageable few hundred. My contribution to the colony was wiring hay bales together to give them a place to hide from the winter cold while Sue filled water bowls and passed out handfuls of restaurant grade cilantro.

“Old Friends” is the unit where the old dogs are kept and just like old humans they have special needs and personalities reflective of the life they lived. Some are skittish from years of mistreatment, others are anxious and pace all day and some just want to nap. As I looked at the gray muzzles, tired eyes and altered gaits I could see myself and my future. Someday I too will need help from others with my grooming, feeding and ambulation. These dogs will probably never be adopted but thanks to Best Friends they will be treated humanely for the rest of their lives. If I’m lucky my care givers will be as kind, patient and understanding as the staff at Best Friends. A wonderful group of people work at the sanctuary and if you would like to volunteer they would sincerely appreciate the help and in return you will have a very memorable experience.

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Categories: Biking, Hiking, Travel

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2 replies

  1. Loved your blog about Best Friends. It’s hard to beat the good feeling you get when doing volunteer work…the rewards are priceless!
    Enjoying your blogs very much.

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