Our Weekend at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

23 06 2011

Yair and I spent our weekend volunteering at Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill sanctuary for cats, dogs, birds, horses, sheep, pigs and rabbits.  Best Friends is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the country and one of the top destinations for volunteer vacations, as well.

Kitty Motel... These Animals Get Treated Better Than Most Humans!

Kitty Motel... These Animals Get Treated Better Than Most Humans!

Angels Rest Animal Cemetary

Angels Rest Animal Cemetary

We started our weekend off with a tour, where we visited several of the different animal neighborhoods and learned that the center operates on a $90,000 daily budget (!).  The Sanctuary prides itself on taking in old, abandoned or mistreated animals that no one else wants and on meeting the special needs (dietary, health, psychological) of the individual creatures.  And boy, do they meet those needs!  Most of the animals are treated to gourmet personalized meals, and there are even massage treatments and aqua therapy available for the animals.

Yes, The Cats Get Massage Therapy

Yes, The Cats Get Massage Therapy

That's Right - The Dogs Have Their Own Fitness Center

That's Right - The Dogs Have Their Own Fitness Center

We spent our first day volunteering in Dogtown Heights (“a gated community”) and spent our second day caring for the horses (Yair) and pigs (Ayo).  When I was six years old, after spending a day on a farm up in Maine, I was so very close to bringing home a piglet to be the family pet.  But it didn’t work out.  Accordingly, I went into my pig volunteer experience determined to love, bond with and maybe even adopt a piggy of my own.

Vertical Space is Well Used in This Room of Catworld

Vertical Space is Well Used in This Room of Catworld

Shrine to Adopted Cats

Shrine to Adopted Cats

Though the black potbelly pigs at Piggy Paradise grew on me as the day went on, it did take a bit of effort…  See, the potbellies aren’t the most visually appealing.  Several were shedding their spines and looked a bit balding, and their hair isn’t soft to pet or snuggle with at all.  The pigs were, however, very smart and a lot of fun to hang out with.

I walked one lady pig named Daphne, and she would sit and stand back up and do every trick she knew to get a treat.  Many of the pigs were even house-trained!  This becomes very helpful on sleepovers…  That’s right.  The center allows for piggy, dog and cat sleepovers as a special experience for volunteers and as part of the animal’s socialization to prepare them for (hopeful) adoption.  Best Friends will pack up an overnight bag with treats, a bed and Pygjamas, and off you go!

Yair Groomed This Gorgeous Horse... And Mucked His Stall (Ick!)

Yair Groomed This Gorgeous Horse... And Mucked His Stall (Ick!)

Squeaky, The Office Pig. Yes, Office.

Squeaky, The Office Pig. Yes, Office.

I spent part of the afternoon preparing the gourmet personalized meals for the potbellies.  The piggies’ dinner consisted of romaine lettuce, yogurt smoothies, almond slices, bananas and fresh veggies – the type of meal that my mom would die for.  Their snacks are specially prepared dehydrated fruits and vegetables – they eat better than most people!  But – not to worry – there is a daily $5 lunch buffet for volunteers at the Best Friends cafeteria, which is plentiful, healthy and absolutely scrumptious.  Win for the animals, win for the humans.

Readying the Automatic Wheel-Barrow For Dinner Delivery to the Piggies

Readying the Automatic Wheel-Barrow For Dinner Delivery to the Piggies

Presenting A Gourmet Meal to Sprocket

Presenting A Gourmet Meal to Sprocket

Incredible Vegetarian Menus at Best Friends - All You Can Eat Buffet for $5! (Click to Zoom)

Incredible Vegetarian Menus at Best Friends - All You Can Eat Buffet for $5! (Click to Zoom)

Stunning View From the Best Friend's Cafeteria Terrace

Stunning View From the Best Friend's Cafeteria Terrace

Ultimately, luxury animal sanctuaries are not the cause that speak to me the most.  But what Best Friends offers is pretty incredible, definitely unique and we would both recommend the volunteering experience to anyone interested – whether for one day or one month.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

PS – For those looking to boondock, we landed an incredible overnight spot just two miles north of Best Friends at Peekaboo Trailhead.  The site offers level ground, gorgeous scenery and a quiet location right off the highway all to yourself!

Yair Picked Wild Flowers For Me One Afternoon - I Don't Like Shortening a Flower's Life, But Aren't They Beautiful?

Yair Picked Wild Flowers For Me One Afternoon - I Don't Like Shortening a Flower's Life, But Aren't They Beautiful?

posted by ayo

Advertisements

Actions

Information

8 responses

23 06 2011
libertatemamo

Awww…brings back memories. Paul volunteered w/ the pigs and loved it too..I was amazed at how smart they can be. We didn’t try the horses…will have to go back for that one. Nina

30 06 2011
ayo

Funny that we’ve been following your path, but glad you guys had a good experience. We’re heading toward Colorado in a couple of weeks, though we’ll be closer to Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder. Will you guys be around? It’s always fun to meet up on the road! 🙂

25 06 2011
frugalveganmom

It always amazes me that people will spend so much money/time/compassion on a select group of animals, but at the same time contribute on a daily basis to the suffering of other animals by eating meat and dairy from factory farms.

It’s nice that they had a vegetarian menu, but I’m willing to bet the majority of people who run and volunteer at that place (or do any work for animals, or even people who just love thier pets) are not vegan.

30 06 2011
ayo

You’re probably right. And most people are hypocritical, though I don’t discount the good that they do for the bad that might occasionally come along with it.

We just finished watching King Corn and Food Inc., both interesting and moving films that compel us both to be more informed shoppers. We’re not vegan by any stretch, but we our fish / chicken intake is usually limited to once a week and we’ve begun exploring free range “happy chicken” type options.

You write in your About Us that your primary objection is factory farming. When did you begin learning about these issues and make the decision to eat primarily vegan?

30 06 2011
frugalveganmom

Hey A – it’s a question I have a hard time answering because I honestly can’t remember. I never cooked meat at home because, well I rarely cooked in the first place and raw meat seemed totally gross.

It happened really gradually, maybe 2-3 years ago. I had one friend who was really into raw foods for awhile and I started reading a bit about that which naturally led to reading about veganism.

The more I read about factory farms the more disgusted I felt buying those products. Not only because of how the animals are treated, but because of how wasteful it is too. It takes so much more land, water, energy, etc., to produce meat & dairy than it does vegetables and grains.

Some books I like are Skinny Bitch, The China Study (which does not promote veganism, but gives a fascinating look on how political the entire food industry is), and Eating Animals was pretty good too. I also really like Mark Bittman’s writing, he has a sort of “ethical eating, vegan before dinner” approach – I haven’t read his new book but here’s an article explaining: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/27/vegan-before-dinnertime/

Hope that helps and that I didn’t come off too harsh in my original comment, thanks for being so receptive. =)

7 07 2011
ayo

Thanks for sharing and opening up about your beliefs in depth and for the recommendations. I just read Mark Bittman’s article and I love it. Let’s see if I can convince Yair to give it a shot. 🙂

I’m going to look into the books you recommended and choose one to order from Amazon. Will keep you posted!

6 07 2011
The Wandering Cartographer

this was precious and heartwarming. I loved reading it and looking at the pictures as well. You two are very special people! I am honored to know you!

7 07 2011
ayo

You’re way too good to us, Benay. We are honored to be friends with you, dear!

PS- Just planned a summer teaching trip to Honesdale PA and got all excited to see you, until Google Maps told me that it’s a 5.5 hour drive to Pittsburgh!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: