Day 2: Hoover Dam Half Marathon
After finishing the half marathon, we wandered around the Lake Mead area for awhile. Then, we drove down to the Hoover Dam to grab some pictures and back-tracked a bit to walk a few portions of the half marathon course again.
By mid-afternoon, it was time to get in the car and make the 4 hour drive to Kanab, Utah where we were staying for the rest of our trip. After a stop in St. George, Utah for dinner, we eventually arrived in Kanab around 8:30 PM. Kanab is an tiny town of 4,000 people (and the largest town in 80 miles in all directions). We were pleasantly suprised by our room at the Bob-Bon Inn. We booked it ages ago because it fit our criteria of having pet-friendly rooms and was inexpensive so we were just hoping it would be decent.
The next morning rolled around and we were on our way just north of town to Best Friends. Like many others, I first heard of Best Friends from the Dogtown show on the National Geographic channel. I watched every single episode of it from the very first episode. When it was on, the new episodes were on Friday nights at 10 PM and were before the days of our DVR. Since I'm an early to bed, early to rise kind of person, it was always hard for me to stay awake to that time but I made sure I did every week. I also cried at every single epiosde, usually out of happiness. After seeing the show, I did my general research on the charity rating sites and was happy with what I read. I became a member and love their bi-monthly magazine.
Side note here - you can find plenty of negative information for this group as well as pretty much any other non-profit out there if you dig enough. You'll probably find some shady information on every group, regardless of size, if you start questioning things. I've done all that research. I know this group brings in millions and millions of dollars. Sure, they have the money for fancy marketing and they exist to bring in money for their cause but overall all experiences I've had with them have been positive.
The popularity of Best Friends Animal Society has surged in the past few years from the exposure of the Dogtown show, publicity from receiving a large number of the Michael Vick dogs as well as their many other programs and campaigns. They receive a huge number of visitors and volunteers each year so I kind of wondered how it would all work out and what our experience would be like --would we just feel like two more bodies in their huge sea of volunteers?
I'm somewhat involved in local animal groups in this area and really wanted to see how Best Friends operated. I made a little stir at a local shelter over the summer (the politics and differing opionions appear at all levels in the non-profit world!) so I had a few specific things I wanted to check out as well.
When we made the turn into Angel Canyon, I started to get a little teary-eyed. This trip really meant a lot to me but I was shocked I was already getting emotional. I got it together but later found out my sister felt the same way, so I guess it was normal!
We made our way into the welcome center and were greeted by an adorable little dog named Dolce. He actually belonged to our tour guide so he rode along with us on the tour as well. He'd had an injury in the past and had one bad leg which made the way he hopped around even more adorable. After watching a brief video (and crying again), we loaded up into a van to go on a tour of the entire santuary. It was even more amazing than I had anticipated. The size, the beauty of the land, the organization of it all, and the people were all wonderful.
After our tour, we had to go through our brief volunteer orientation. After that, we headed back to our hotel for a quick lunch of PB&J sandwiches and were back at Best Friends by 1:00 PM where we were scheduled to volunteer in Dogtown for the afternoon. I felt we really started to see things at this point. The tour was wonderful, I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who is close to the area, but it certainly had a bit of fluff as well. After a safety video, we were assigned to the Fairway, which consisted of the Dotty and Petey dog octagons which housed younger, energetic green-collared dogs. Green-collared dogs are all the ones who are perfectly fine with people so anyone can volunteer with them. I was amazed at these dogs. Having been around plenty of shelter dogs, they are usually full of energy after being cooped up in a kennel so it usually takes a little bit to get out their energy and see their true personality. The structure at Best Friends allow the dogs to live together in runs where they have both a large indoor and outdoor area, which is an ideal setup and the dogs seem peaceful and happy.
After some poop-scooping and some dog walking, it was already time to leave for the day. On this night, we were taking a sleepover dog with us so we had to get him checked out early. The caregiver at the Fairway asked if we'd take Valentino for the night. I had already had some fun with Valentino earlier in the day because he loved pouncing on the light reflecting off the poop-scooper and then digging himself a nice hole in the sand where he last saw the reflection.
We loaded him into the car (that poor rental car had no idea the kind of week it was in for), checked him out at headquarters and picked up his overnight bag.
Since it was still before 4:00 PM, we decided to head over to Coral Pink Sand Dunes, which is a state park nearby. We'd researched ahead of time and knew dogs were allowed and had planned on doing this at least with one of our sleepover dogs.
After a workout on the sand dunes, we headed into town to order some take-out at a Mexican restaurant called Nedra's Too. The people in the town seem quite used to people with the sleepover dogs from Best Friends so they didn't think it was the least bit odd when I was taking menus out to the car before ordering!
Next up: Day two at Best Friends.