Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kanab, Utah! The Greatest Earth on Show!

No, I'm not that punny -- Kanab is:

If you ever go to Kanab, stay at Quail Park Lodge. From our frazzled 10 p.m. arrival when we couldn't get the key to open the door (solution: turn it) to the friendly chat in the morning when I retrieved coffee and doughnuts from the office, our stay was great. Big fluffy comforters, super fancy robes, and the ability to have pet sleepovers from Best Friends (if you don't stay in our deluxe-newly-renovated-suite). Loved it. I totally forgot to take a picture, but it was as cute as the website looks.

We slept like logs Thursday night -- hardly surprising -- but managed to get up when the evil alarm went off because PUPPIES WERE WAITING! We had to be at Best Friends at 8:30 a.m. for the video before the tour before the volunteering and there was no way I was going to be late. So I allowed for traffic. In the 7 miles between our motel and the turn-off from route 89. We passed one car. Score one for the small town.

Of course it was a good thing we had time because I could hardly drive for looking at the breathtaking -- and I don't bandy that word around, people -- scenery that we had totally missed during our night time arrival. Judge for yourself:

I KNOW. Flipping MAJESTIC. And I usually only say that about HRH Queen Elizabeth. We were still oohing and aahing three days later as we left that beautiful place. I've been out west before and I've even been camping in Zion National Park (about 40 miles away), but Kanab is just smack in the middle of major rock loveliness. Go ahead, have another:

But we weren't there for scenery, we were there for the animals. And boy, did they deliver. For those of you who are link-phobic and have thus avoided all the chances to go read the Best Friends website instead of my random thoughts, Best Friends Animal Society is a place unlike any other. Twenty-four years ago, some animal-loving friends bought land in Angel Canyon and formed an animal sanctuary from which no animal would ever be turned away. Kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us. Believe it. From their No More Homeless Pets campaign to disaster animal rescue to education and support, they help rescue groups and animals all over the world. Good stuff.

We began with a guided tour of the sanctuary. Large vans with bench seats. Wombat and I grabbed the way, way back, because we were in fact the coolest kids on the bus. The ladies in front of us were from Virginia, of course. We are everywhere. The ride was really bumpy but most excellent for pointing out interesting scenery and the inner workings of the various different animal areas. First animal stop with touching was the home for cats with feline leukemia. The house itself is part cat fantasy land and part tribute to a longtime donor whose husband built the house after his wife died without fulfilling her dream to live near Best Friends and volunteer with the cats every day. The cats were enjoying the sunshine and the love and attention from their personal caregiver. Wombat caught me petting one little sweetie. Don't tell Boom:

We drove past Feathered Friends -- thank goodness, no need to see any birds, thank you very much -- and past the wild turkeys that were mooching scattered feed around the buildings. Then we head to Dogtown Heights and got to see how they manage to keep so many dogs healthy and happy. All the dogs had indoor rooms with beds and blankets and then full outdoor play areas that were almost as big as my backyard. Some dogs had buddies, others were on their own. All of them were eager to see who had pulled up in the van. The dog caregivers were by and large a truly friendly and happy group of people who were quick to share stories about their animals charges. We couldn't wait to get started volunteering!

Back to the front desk for paperwork and name tags and then off to the cafeteria for a splendid $4 vegetarian buffet. Yum. A little windy that first day, but a view to die for:

Full of healthy vegetables, grains, and fruit, Wombat and I headed over to the Clinic for our next volunteer orientation. We watched a short film about dog handling (don't hug the dogs? we'll see about that) and a possible sighting of John Garcia, hottie animal trainer from the National Geographic show Dogtown, and we were sent off with a map to our first destination: The Fairway.

Each Dogtown Heights area has two octagons of dogs, two caregivers, and about 40-45 dogs. I don't know if they lost a lot of volunteers in the past, but when they send you out dogwalking now, you are pointed to the path for your building. The paths are red sandy and outlined in rocks and meander up and down and around, with a bench in the middle for a water break and a cuddle. We broke the no-hug rule with the first set of dogs. I also discovered that these dogs have not developed Boom's patience with extended picture-taking, so I got a lot of backs of heads. Still cute:

Some of the dogs walked beautifully on their leashes. Others were a little more stubborn. One particular hound dog named Yankee was in a class all by himself. While we were walking the path, a large mule deer buck (is that redundant?) crashed through the brush several yards away. Yankee sat down and howled, clearly heeding his ancestry. He would not move for love, money, or treats. He didn't even drag. So Wombat carried him back to his room. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was a sight: Yankee's sense of outrage and Wombat's determination to get that dog home. Wombat did get a picture of him doing his best sit and howl:

More dogs, more cuddling. It was so relaxing and so wonderful and so clearly, how life was meant to be. I quickly fell in love with Dozer. Rescued from a pitbull breeding operation, Dozer had clearly been abused. Now, he just wants to lie next to you and get all the petting he can. I hope a special somebody takes him home soon:

Wombat was busy falling in love with Ripple, a young chesapeake bay retriever with a dislocated hip. Ripple is getting hydrotherapy and will have surgery on his hip as soon as his muscles have strengthened. He still gets to go on puppy sleepovers, so he's a happy camper:

5 p.m. came way too soon and we were sent away for the evening. We went back to the motel and shook off about a pound of red dust and got back in the car for a quick reconnoiter of Kanab (pop. not very many). We did find the Ideabox, but it was disappointing in person. We know exactly how disappointing as the back sliding door was open, so we got to fully inspect the place. Famished, we made our way to Nedra's Too. I'd read about it on the internet and it did not disappoint.

If you ever happen to eat at Nedra's Too, I can recommend the Navajo Taco (taco filling on Indian fry bread), the quesadilla, and the fried ice cream. All good. Wash it down with a Squatter's Chasing Tail golden ale. All the better to enjoy the 1/2 movie memorabilia 1/2 NASCAR decorations.

After a quick stop for breakfast items at the gas station quick mart, we headed back to the motel and were asleep under our fluffy comforters without much delay. Day 1 was a complete success.

Tell all your single friends, you really should have been there.

XO, JamieSmitten


wombat said...

it absolutely was too john garcia!!

yay yankee! yay dozer! yay ripple!

Scott from Oregon said...

What does one do to get to volunteer at dog town?

Just go and say "here I am"?

JamieSmitten said...

Wombat -- I was saving John for the next day's tale!!

ScottyFO: Just email them! They will send you all the info about the different areas -- horses, pigs, bunnies, cats, and the BESTEST -- Dogs. It was so wonderful, I'd move there tomorrow. I'm definitely going back.

March to the Sea said...

sounds awesome!

LuLu and LoLLy! said...

Dear Jamie, we are 2 Maltese dogs, and LoLLy is a rescue. This is one of the best stories we have ever read on the world wide web, becuz it is so descriptive and also inspiring and also it is filled with outstanding piktures. Thank you for sharing! Your PaLs, LuLu and LoLLy!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Brilliant piece! And BTW much ta for the CD! Will play soon and review asap.