Wednesday, November 25, 2009

December in the desert

Well, guess where I'm going next week.

First to Las Vegas for an evening and then here.

Yep, finally. I figure it's about time I visited one of the the world's most successful dog sanctuaries. Some people probably think going on vacation to a place to walk dogs is a sign of an unstable mind and they might be right but I'm hoping to get a bit more out of it than just bagging more poop (Do they even do that out there? I mean, it is the desert). I'd like to see if I can find out what makes them tick and not just in their dedication to animals but also in other aspects of their organization like PR and fundraising - maybe get some pointers on best practices.

I've often wondered why there are so few places like BFAS when there are so many millions of pets and pet owners in North America. Sure we've got humane societies and SPCAs but they're not sanctuaries and too often those organizations are infested with politics and ego, and they become more about selling the shallow appearance of altruism to their membership and supporters than they are about the actual hard work of helping animals. What is it about BFAS that makes it special and why is that specialness not the norm for more animal welfare agencies?

BFAS also offer free daily classes in the afternoons. I have no idea what they're going to be about but can't wait to find out.

Then there are the amazing sites in the area - Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce, etc. - and suddenly it seems like a week is hardly enough time.

I'm leaving on Saturday and should have internet access most of the time so I should be able to keep posting. Now I've got to start thinking about what to pack for near winter weather. Another sign of an unstable mind is going vacationing somewhere where it's actually colder than here in Toronto.

21 comments:

House of the Discarded said...

My Aunt from Ohio visited BFAS this year. She loved it and sends them $$ every year. Hell - even my own parents send BFAS money. :)

(Wish I could convince them to send $$ to the rescue I actually VOLUNTEER with!)

-Beth

Biscuit said...

oh MAN, so jealous. I get their magazine - I love those guys. they do such fantastic work.

Joanne said...

Would you do me a favour while there...if you can. There is a place where they bury the dogs and Bruno the chow is buried there. The wind chimes sound in the canyon all the time. People leave stones on their name plate to say that they were there. Would you, if you could, leave a stone for Bruno and tell him it is from me. If not, I understand, if so, great and thanks.

redstarcafe said...

Wow, I'm looking forward to lots of stories from BF!

In her recent book, "The Dog by the Cradle, The Serpent Beneath", Erika Ritter wrote about her pilgrimage to Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne in France to visit the ruins of the forest where St. Guinefort was buried. St. G. was a greyhound (along the lines of Gelert) sanctified as a guardian of children, with many miracles in his name.

No one in Chatillon knew where the site was (kind of like most of us who've never visited the CN Tower), so it was a lucky accident that Ritter found a little pamphlet in an obscure bookshop with directions.

You'll be needing no such directions to get to that sainted sanctuary.

Fred said...

Will do, Joanne, as long as it doesn't make me start bawling.

FYI for those that didn't see it, Bruno (http://www.bestfriends.org/dogtown/index.cfm?csid=3182&csii=3185&csit=Set&entry=21841B69-BDB9-396E-9D874F0A1A40A351) was a Chow Chow featured on the National Geographic Channel show, Dogtown. Phoenix (http://onebarkatatime.blogspot.com/search?q=phoenix) reminded me a lot of him.

Lynda said...

Bruno is also my favourite dog. It would be wonderful if you could leave a couple of stones there, Fred.

Or, I could always squeeze into your suitcase?

What a wonderful adventure. This is on the top of my list of places to visit as well - I cannot wait to read about your experience there and to see your pics.

Safe travels,
Lynda

GoodDog said...

Oh Fred I'm so jealous! We spent two weeks in Zion last year -- that was before we knew Best Friends was out there. We probably drove by it 20 times and never knew it was there. Sigh... Have a great time. I look forward to your posts. Who's watching your pups?

Fred said...

A good friend is helping to look after Stella and Rocky. She's about the only person I trust to look after the big monsters.

Miz Minka said...

That's my kind of vacation: colder weather, and an animal sanctuary!! Awesome. Wishing you safe travels and looking forward to hearing all about your trip!

debra said...

Another jealous person here. I remember Bruno, too. What a sweet dog. Another of my favourites is Lucas, one of the Vick dogs (actually, all of them). He has a face & body full of scars (so you can imagine what he's been through)but is said to be one of the sweetest, friendliest dogs ever. Hope you get a chance to meet him.

They have workshops on topics like dog behaviour, handling & how to start your own rescue/sanctuary. That's the one I would love to take but it's expensive. $650.

Anyway, have a great time.

Cathrine said...

It's possible I'm the only reader not jealous. But that's because I did something similar this summer. That's also why I understand perfectly that you are spending your vacation walking dogs and picking up poop and attending seminars and being inspired and getting your heart broken, too.

Please, if you can, make some of your blog entries about the seminars: it would be excellent to learn from BFAS more about dog behaviour and handling, particularly as it refers to the abused and abandoned.

Have a wonderful, educational and rewarding vacation!

Fred said...

Oh yeah, I've already got my lists of questions I want to ask them.

Dale said...

I was in Nevada last week and though the air was chilly, the sun was warm enough that many people, and not just us Canadians, were wearing shorts.

Love the area and look forward to reading about it.

Cathrine - thrilled to run into you here - will have to put fingers to keyboard and send you an email!

Lynn said...

Hey Fred...I take a spring break trip with my now 12-year old nephew every year. He's getting pretty into dogs lately, helping out at his local animal shelter, etc. and I've been seriously considering taking our annual trip this spring at BFAS to volunteer for a few days, so I can't wait to hear your stories. It sounds like you're going to have a great trip...from BFAS to all the rest of it. Enjoy.

Heather B said...

You lucky dog!!
Stay well and enjoy.
Can`t think of a place I`d rather be than at the BF Sanctuary, except home with my own dogs.

Kate said...

My dream vacation! (actually, my dream vocation, but not without a lottery win to finance it). Please post a lot!!

hopy said...

Last year when we were in Texas we spent a day at Utopia Ranch, the rescue started by Kinky Friedman. It's such a wonderful place, and it feels great to hang out with people who care so much, and with all the animals they save. You're going to have a fantastic time.

borderjack said...

Wishing you a great trip...I can't wait to read your posts about it! Best,

Anonymous said...

I am so green with envy right now. Utah is my #1 vacation spot. once I discoverd all the amazing National parks there I started doing my research and decided I was going to head there one day. i can't believe your going and to BFAS as well wow wow wow. Can't wait to get updates when you're back. Have a blast Fred

Susan

Joan Sinden said...

I was just there for the No More Homeless Pets Conference and we rented a car and went for a tour of the Sanctuary - it is an amazing place - you are going to be blown away - not just by the sanctuary and the people and the animals, but also by the scenery. You have made a very good decision - I cannot wait for the blog posts - please make them as long and picturesque as possible!!

Lynn said...

Not to mention that Bad Rap is having its 10th anniversary party in Berkeley on Sat., Dec 5th and that Southwest flies from Las Vegas to Oakland, which is right next door to Berkeley. Just a thought...

http://www.badrap.org/rescue/events.cfm