A Refuge for the Furred and Feathered- Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

There is a place tucked in a red rock canyon in SW Utah where at any given time approximately 1,500 homeless dogs, horses, goats, pigs, bunnies, birds, and injured wildlife can live the rest of their days in peace and safety.  Some might even find a forever home beyond its boundaries.  Others may be released back to the wild.  That place would be Best Friends Animal Sanctuary– probably the largest no-kill shelter of its kind in the world.

I would have never discovered this place had it not been for the suggestion of fellow blogger Pam of “I Choose This.”  On a rainy day during a visit to Zion National Park in April, travel buddy Jean and I headed out of the park to explore the surrounding environs.  After checking out the quaint town of Kanab and grabbing a cuppa, we drove the 7 miles to check out Best Friends.  Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to arrange a tour but we did enjoy their gift shop and learning about the place which occupies 3700.  It’s a stunning setting.  

Best Friends relies on an army of volunteers and donations to keep it running. There are clinics, comfortable housing for every type of animal on the premises. Their are also outreach facilities in Los Angleles and New York City. This organization was also instrumental in saving many lost animals during Hurricane Katrina.

The one area we could visit was Angels Rest, the final resting place for animals that had crossed the rainbow bridge either at the sanctuary or beyond Best Friends boundaries. I had seen a lot of magnificent scenery on this trip but this beautiful pet cemetery tugged on my heartstrings and made me tear up.  Imagine a red mesa with acres of little memorials to animals that had been loved.  Owners, for a donation had personalized their headstones with all kinds of messages and memorabilia like collars and toys.  Then there the hundreds of memorial wind chimes lilting their soothing melodies on the desert breeze. The last area we saw was the bird cemetery with a multitude of tiny markers honoring their memory.

If you are in the area Best Friends is worth a visit and if you can’t make it in person, donate! It’s a good cause  I hope to get back there someday for a tour.

On a side note, two days after I returned from Utah my sweet little twin nine-month-old kitten Zoey (ZoZo we affectionately called her) was hit by a car.  Zoey was one of those once-in-a-lifetime kinds of kitties- a little four-legged sprite the used to follow me around the yard and entertain me with her antics with acrobatic finesse in trees and on the clothesline.  Then there was the thundering around the house at night with her twin, Zander, and her obsidian black mom-cat, Zinnia. (See my post Zinnia’s Kittens) We were devestated. I thought I might honor her memory by purchasing and hanging a personalized wind chime at Angel’s Rest.  Then I thought better of it.  Zoey would prefer to have one hung right over her grave in the backyard.  Now I have my own Angels Rest.

Zoey

Cat Gratitude

Hurtling towards the spring equinox I awoke to the sun in my eyes this morning.  It’s been months since that’s happened.  Yesterday I made an appointment for my second Covid vaccine.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Soon I will be able to resume somewhat of a normal life.  Camping and river trips are starting to appear on the calendar.

As with everyone else – it’s been a rough go through this pandemic (and everything else).  If I were going to give a speech at the “Covid Survival Awards”  at the beginning (while holding my covid 19 virus trophy) I would have to thank my two, now 7-month-old tuxedo kittens, Zoey and Zander, and their baby mama, Zinnia (“Mama Z”) for unwittingly helping time to survive this time.  Their endless antics and purrs have helped to keep laughter and smiles in my life.  I’m sure many of you out there feel the same…

Zander’s Gift

He is the fraidy one

but this morning he chose me

popping up on my quilted lap

his purr inviting me

to cradle his sweet body

love his ears

and the soft fur of his belly

with my hands

In this simple encounter with a cat

I breathe deeply

inhaling our mutual contentment

savoring that for a moment

all’s right with the world

Zoey, Mama Z, & Zander

Zoey top, Zander left

Artwork by the author

See my other blog about sustainable living at onesweetearth.art.blog

Zinnia’s Kittens

She was the fourth in a line of feral or stray cats that had found their way to our property.  First, they find shelter in the barn. Then, over a period of days or weeks, they grow bolder. Eventually, they wind up on the porch staring in the kitchen window, hoping for a meal.  They stay for a while, just enough time for me to grow fond of them, and then disappear- their fate not to be known.

Zinnia was different.  I could tell she was in the early stages of pregnancy looking for a safe anchor.  Poor dear- a teen pregnancy, barely not a kitten herself. She was petite, with a sleek body that sported a shiny black coat. Her topaz eyes that glowed like the high beams on a car, visible from across the yard.  This cat could model on a perfume commercial

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Friday Night Cats

00003601984061Every Friday I head over to the Newberg Animal Shelter for my standing date with cats from 4-6PM.  This is not glamorous work by any means. Basically, I do the afternoon feeding and cleaning of all the kitties in the shelter except the ones in the quarantine room.  I volunteered as I wanted to do something for the community and all things furry and four-legged who do not have a voice.

In the cacophony of barking, I say hello to the other shelter volunteers, then I greet the dogs in their kennels to see new arrivals and who has gotten adopted. In the storeroom, I don a grey Newberg Animal Shelter T-shirt and then proceed to the lobby and cat areas to get a count so I know how much food is needed. I grab a rolling cart and am off to the kitchen to prepare the cat food, get a pitcher of water and pick up cleaning supplies.

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All these puppies found homes!

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