During my visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, I volunteered for an afternoon with Old Friends in Dogtown. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary houses over 1700 animals at any given time and volunteers are essential to help keep it going. I met many people who have been volunteering at Best Friends for years. I believe it is because Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is good for the soul.
Twenty-two of the Vicktory Dogs came to Dogtown in January of 2008 and nearly all of them were later adopted into loving homes. I highly recommend watching The Champions for a non-graphic and moving account of these amazing dogs. Naturally, I couldn’t resist picking up some Vicktory Dogs Greeting cards by one of my favorite artists, Cyrus Mejia, at the gift shop.
I don’t know how long it took for Best Friends to organize the facility as it is now, but the place is amazing on so many levels.
At Dogtown, adult dogs are housed in octagonal buildings with spacious kennels. Each kennel has an inside and outside run and dogs are housed together based on compatibility. The dogs’ safety and comfort are the top concerns at Dogtown. Each run is cleaned at least twice a day; every dog has a bed and access to both inside and outside throughout the day.
There is an elaborate schedule, and the caregivers follow and take meticulous notes about the dogs. Each dog is considered individually. Training, social interaction, and roommate selection are based on the dogs’ needs. (Best Friends only uses relationship training for all of their animals.)
Feeding time is a combination of art and science. Each dog eats in a separate area to eliminate resource guarding issues. Every dog has its food specially prepared for him and personally delivered.
A few of the dogs are hand fed to help them equate humans with kindness, while others just need to sit on command before getting their food. Some of the other volunteers hand fed shy dogs. A caregiver was able to get an extremely shy dog to take a piece of food from her. The employee laid on her stomach and covered her head with her arm so the dog would not feel threatened. I watched her tell the story to the other caregiver, and even though I know she has had success with other dogs, her joy was overwhelming. It was the FIRST time this dog had ever taken food from a human hand. And that was huge, not only for the dog but for the people who are helping her to heal.
Additional volunteer duties include: walking the dogs, cleaning the kennels, laundry, washing dog bowls, weeding, and reading stories to them. It may sound mundane, but it isn’t!
Even being a small part of something as big as Best Friends- not just in size, but in spirit, is incredibly rewarding.
Here are a few of the dogs that I met. All would make great companions!
Adoptable Dogs From Best Friends
Susan is adorable and about five years old. Although she is shy right now, I believe she will blossom in time. Lincoln is a lovable old soul who is ready for a forever home! One of the volunteers fell in love with him and while she can’t adopt, Lincoln inspired her to try fostering.
Lava is a sun goddess; she loves to lay at the end of the run and soak up the rays. She is one of the dogs who is hand fed to help her learn to trust people. Lava’s adoption fee is waived thanks to one of her supporters. Sandy is a Shepherd Husky mix who adores people.
Sparky is a cute little guy with some neurological issues. If you want to adopt Sparky, you must visit the Sanctuary. And finally, Caspian is an amazing senior who has the cutest little nub tail that wags constantly. He deserves to spend his golden years in a home of his own.
Please fill out an adoption application, if you want to adopt any of these dogs. If you can’t adopt, I hope you’ll share their photos and help them find a home! The motto of Best Friends Animal Society is Save Them All. I know it is possible.
All dog profile photos are courtesy of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Follow Best Friends Animal Society on Facebook.