Vacation Recap (aka look at my slides!)
For folks who haven’t met me, I like to spend my vacations with Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, the location of the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States. So last week I flew into Vegas to kickoff the annual escapade. Spent the first night at The Cromwell, which is part of the Caesar’s chain. The decor was posh. The location was perfect. I’d recommend it for the service, their driver, and the free espresso, plus the easy in-and-out. It isn’t the best place for folks who want to try out different restaurants in their hotel, since there’s only one.
Before leaving Vegas, I got to grab a fancy burger and catch up with an old friend, as well as stock up on bath bombs from Lush, because a soaking tub is a nice touch when you’re covered in cat spit and allergic to it. And the new place in Kanab, the Canyons Boutique Hotel, had a room with a tub that had my name on it. (And a fireplace, too, but it’s September. Also, they have a restaurant downstairs, which I ate at once. It was nice. Hot breakfast would have been nice if I’d managed to get up early enough to enjoy it, but I was always scraping in just under the 8:15 check-in wire at Cat HQ.)
Got into Kanab in time to go on the tour and take a spin around the gift shop. Drove out to Zion that evening, which is just 20someting miles away. Then I realized that pretty as the rocks were, I’d rather be back in the hotel getting some sleep. Which was much needed. My Fitbit told me I averaged 6 1/2 hours of sleep each night that week. I could be doing relaxation wrong.
Quincy Room 2: Where the boys are
Spent my first day volunteering in Quincy Mo, catching up with some of my lobby favorites like Snowflake and Duke. When I was ready to clean, a caregiver suggested I try out Room 2, which is chock full of alpha male cats. They’re a little more feisty with each other than most rooms, and you have to make sure everybody who wants attention gets it, but mostly they’re big ol’ loverboys. After I’d been in there a bit, I was trying to identify one of the cats and looked up at the board and saw… a card I’d sent after my visit in 2009 – a photo of three boys who are no longer in the room. Whichever caregiver picked Room 2 for me obviously chose well.
After lunch, I went back to help out with dishes and laundry and just generally spread the love around. When there was one more thing to attend to than there were caregivers, I got to step in and feed Duke, which was a wonderful, messy experience. Duke’s a kitty with cerebellar hypoplasia who lives in the lobby. For folks who remember him from my previous visits, he’s still just as independent, but now he’s happier and yells at you less when you try to help him. I also fell in love with Spud, a blind, neurological kitty who “oversaw” my laundry folding. (I had no idea he was blind until a caregiver told me. He died while being neutered and suffered some brain damage after being revived.) So yeah. Quincy and its magnificent kitties will remain on the Must Do list for the foreseeable future.
Silva Battista hosted that evening’s Welcome Wagon, which focused on their Katrina rescue efforts. It was amazing to hear about it all from a witness. It hadn’t struck me that street signs would be underwater, so it was interesting to hear the logistics of how they’d direct the boats in New Orleans by using satellite maps back in Utah.
Bent on Benton’s
I have a special place in my heart for Benton’s House, another of the special needs buildings, so that was Thursday’s agenda. While the caregivers were doing meds and special feedings, Maury and I went out for an hour long walk. You’d never know he couldn’t use his back legs when he got to the sanctuary. I think he would have stayed out all morning, staking out lizards, if I hadn’t finally toted him back to the lobby.
Got to do a stint as Dilly’s maid and meet all the new cats in Niblet’s. Last time I visited, we’d managed to get shy Grover (nee Attila) down from the rafters with some Temptations. He’s a little old man now, but his posse of “huns” still loves him, and he can still be persuaded with promises of plunder (treats).
After lunch, Chauncy and Slidell monitored my dish washing skills. (Their advice? Moar pettins, plz.) I got to clean a bit more but mostly spent the time socializing with some shy cats in each of the rooms. Went back to say goodbye to Dillymonster, who didn’t have to swat or growl at anybody the whole time I was in there. Good to see everyone’s giving the diva the respect she deserves.
After finally meeting an imaginary friend, I spent my final shift picking the brain of Mike at Colonel’s, whom I’d met on my very first volunteer shift back in 2008. He had some great advice on handling feral cats for my Sunday shifts volunteering at the spay/neuter clinic (chiefly: do it as little as possible). I learn all sorts of new things every time I work at Best Friends, and sometimes months later I realize I’m putting them into practice. These I’m putting into place next Sunday.
The landscape is beautiful; the people are wonderful. There’s something special about being in a space where everyone’s there to make the animals’ lives better that makes Best Friends a magical, unforgettable experience.
Check out the album on Flickr
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Tags: Best Friends, cats, Las Vegas, vacation, volunteering