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.
Keegan is every bit as sweet as he looks in his profile photo. Tom Tom was in a run with three other dogs and is definitely a peaceful guy.
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.
About Alice G Patterson Photography: Based in Syracuse, New York, Alice specializes in dog photography, senior portraits and commercial photography for small businesses. Follow her on Instagram.
Jen Gabbard says
The Champions was awesome, and I believe it’s on Netflix at the moment. It was so inspiring to see how those dogs came from such a heartbreaking situation and ended up being cherished, loving companions.
It is really a beautiful documentary.
Sounds like a great place and a wonderful experience!
Alice G Patterson says
Such sweet faces… I hope they all find the love they deserve!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in a couple weeks… lol… but man am I so jealous of your experience at Best Friends!!! And I love that you are keeping the stories coming!
Oh Nichole, we have to get you there! It is so much more than I can describe. Even now I get teary eyed thinking about what a special place it is.
Cathy Keisha says
I think Best Friends is on every pet lovers bucket list. I’m glad you got to experience it.
I think if it isn’t on their bucket list it is only because they haven’t heard of it.
Sounds like an amazing sanctuary with very kind people. I hope these deserving animals get the homes they need.
Heather with WELLFITandFED says
Heartbreaking seeing these little ones waiting for a home. I hope they all find someone special to take care of them. Thanks for sharing.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
You keep making me want to visit Best Friends! The bf was actually in Kanab but didn’t go.
Kanab is a cute little town, what a pity he didn’t visit Best Friends, he would have loved it!
Christine Caplan says
I absolutely love the story about the dog taking food out of someone’s hands for the first time… I have been taught that be many trainers in a shelter environment and that trust factor is HUGE. Beautiful post.
Dusty Desert Dogs says
I want to visit Best Friends sanctuary one of these days! it sounds and looks like an amazing place!
It is amazing, I hope you can go sometime!
The Daily Pip says
We spent a morning with the young adults at Dog Town. Because my daughter was with, we were only allowed to volunteer with the friendliest, most easy going dogs. We walked some dogs and also did dishes. I can’t wait to go back!
I’m a little jealous of your daughter getting to go there at such a young age! I hope you both get to go back many times!
Sweet Purrfections says
We hope these amazing dogs can find a forever home that is purrfect for them.
The DIY Dog Mom says
Uhh Keegan looks like such a sweetheart! I want to take them all home! Thank you for advocating for them!
Kristin Cook says
OH MY GOODNESS! I so wish I could adopt Lava!
I want them all! Such sweet faces…I hope they have a loving forever home very soon!
Carol Bryant says
I sooooo want to do this and volunteer there. What a pawsome experience for you!
I really hope you can do it Carol, it is a life changing experience.
Christina Berry | The Lazy Pit Bull says
Such beauties. I’m glad you had the chance to meet them and spend a bit of time with them.
Talent Hounds says
What an amazing organization and place. You were so lucky to visit and great job advocating and spreading the word. You brought a tear to my eye. Shared on Twitter and Pinterest.
Cathy Armato says
What a great visit you had to the sanctuary, you’re so lucky to have been there! They do such amazing work, saving so many of these animals. I will share widely!
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
Thanks, Cathy! I hope you can go, you will love it!
An incredible example – this organization sounds amazing!
Dolly the Doxie says
The more I hear about Best Friends the more amazed I am at what they are doing. Love Dolly
Kitty Cat Chronicles says
They are all so adorable!!! Their faces – precious! Thank you for sharing about them and all that Best Friends does. I hope I have the opportunity to volunteer there one day.
I hope you do too! I’m not really a person who says “everyone should do this thing!” in general, but I think most pet bloggers/animal lovers will LOVE volunteering at Best Friends.
Jessica B Gibson says
I need to watch it. But I dont know if I can handle it.
Honestly, Jessica, I think you can. It is NOT graphic nor do they go into detail of the Vicktory Dogs’ past. It focuses on what happened AFTER Michael Vick.