Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary - Wednesday

Snowman snored contentedly in the armchair last night and this morning as soon as the alarm went off, he was up and butt wagging for a good ten minutes all ready for the new day.

I dragged my feet a bit because I could tell it was going to be a cold morning and for half a second thought about going back to sleep. I didn't know Snowman's bladder control, though, so I put on my several layers and harnessed him up and walked out the door into the very chill dry air.

Snowman happily noticed no such thing or at least didn't seem to care and he stuck his nose to the ground and away we went. Around the first corner and I'm still somewhat groggy but then I look up and see the falling full moon nestled within a dip in the hills by the edge of town. The silver disc fit comfortably in between the hills and looked as if it was going to snuggle in there for a day's sleep. I wished I had my camera with me but it was one of the moments when I knew if I did have my camera, I'd be too busy trying to take pictures instead of just appreciating the moment. Tomorrow morning I'll bring my camera with me just in case there's a repeat performance but if not, well, some things are more beautiful just as a memory. I have Snowman to thank for this.

I may be reading too much into it but I got the feeling that just as we were going to head to Best Friends to bring Snowman home, he realized he wasn't going to be staying with me and he jumped back into the armchair, not wanting to leave, and gave me his "how could you?" look. Whatever disappointment he may have had, though, I think disappeared when we got back to his home at Dogtown Heights and he smelled the meatballs they were spooning out for the dogs' breakfasts.

I then went over to the Old Friends area of Dogtown Heights and walked Tenny, Amos and Isaiah. The dogs were all fine and, again, surprisingly well leash trained but the woman I was partnered with was having problems with the altitude. I hadn't even noticed any differences but we are at something like 5000 ft and for some people, that's enough to make them short of breathe or give them headaches and possibly nausea.

Anyway, we all survived.




Next I went on a tour of the Wildlife rehab center where I learned that certain types of crows and ravens can live to 85 years old and, like parrots, can mimic human speech. The information on the tour was very interesting and the birds in rehab included several hawks, owls, and ravens and I think there were others but because the idea is to keep them wild, the public isn't allowed to see or otherwise interact with them. Makes sense.

I was going to go back to Old Friends to walk some more dogs before lunch but the guy doing the parrot tour was there at the end of the wildlife tour and I felt kind of bad skipping out on his tour so I changed my plans and went and saw the parrots and I'm glad I did.

I'm not much of a bird person but I have to admit, I'm kind of impressed by some of their abilities. The bird guy took us to meet the cockatoos warning us that they scream louder than jet engines and I think he might be right. I think my ears are still bleeding a bit from that experience. The birds were mostly screaming for attention and as soon as they got it, they stopped, thankfully.

These exotic birds face a great deal of hardship in captivity simply because they are in captivity. According to the bird guy, they're never really domesticated, always wild in heart and mind and so when they are caged with nothing to do all day, everyday of their lives, they tend to develop sometimes severe obsessive compulsive behaviours like pulling their feathers out or being extremely destructive. Or they just shut down. For a bird that can live to 80 or more years, being in a cage can be a real long life of mental anguish.

Several of the birds at BFAS were left there when their owners got too old to take care of them and of course that's the other problem with these "pets". Often because they live so long, they outlive their owners.

For the afternoon, I went to Piggy Paradise to do some volunteering. The pot bellied pigs there don't get enough exercise in their pens so they also need to be walked and the easiest way to walk a pig is to throw a trail of popcorn on the ground.




The pigs definitely had very individual personalities and Cherry, Hogan and Nanui were all fairly good walkers but Jake was a bit more independent minded and I couldn't get him to go back to his pen at the end of his walk. Instead, he meandered towards the kitchen building and snuffled around outside despite my best popcorn tossing efforts. Finally, I was presented with his supper dish by one of the staff and as soon as he saw that, he sprinted - and I mean sprinted - back to his pen where he knew he would be fed.


Finally, at four o'clock, I went to pick up my sleepover dog. This time it's Colt who's a young Pointer/Hound(?) mix. He's somewhat anxious and hand shy. It's been a few hours now back at the lodge and I think he's finally starting to feel a bit more comfortable and able to relax. I'll soon find out how well he sleeps.

Colt at Angel's Landing


Anonymous said...

Must be a heck of a contrast, being in a properly run shelter while keeping up with the news from THS. Do people from BF ever travel to other shelters to give seminars or workshops? Maybe someone from there could bring some expertise here.

Laura HP said...

More beautiful photos Fred! I'm glad you went to the parrot area because I wanted to see what it was like =) That is a gorgeous cockatoo (and cockatiel!). Parrots, I think, suffer some of the worst hardships of abandoned's hard to find an animal that suffers being abandoned as much as a bonded parrot. They are such complex animals, and too often they're passed from home to home and end up with some very difficult-to-handle issues. The guys you posted, howver, are obviously getting the very best of care =)
Also Colt is a beautiful dog! Hope he sleeps well!

Fred said...

Anonymous, it's very weird. Because I'm here at Best Friends, it's starting to feel like this is the norm and everything going on Toronto is just someone else's horrible nightmare. In less than a week, it'll be back to being my nightmare as well again.

LauraHP, if I weren't so tired at the end of each day, I'd write more about the birds because there really was a whole lot of great info the animal care givers passed along on the tour. The bird sanctuary is quite nice with several large indoor/outdoor enclosures and a lot of thought has gone into its construction - all built upon the philosophy of what's good for the birds as opposed to what's good for the tourists passing through - but then everything is like that at BFAS.

Evil Shannanigans said...

I am so unbelievably, incredibly, insanely jealous! It looks so amazing there. You have inspired me to go there for my holidays next fall! I am so excited!

Keep the updates coming, can't wait to see more.

monica said...

Fred - I am really enjoying your vacation - it's like being there myself. What a fantastic place - I had no idea they had so many different kinds of animals.

Rita said...

Fred, I am really enjoying reading about your vaca at BF. This place is great and I, too, wish we had something like this here.
I agree with the bird handler at BF that birds do have it rough being stuck in a cage most of their lives. My hats off to owners who let their birds fly around the house on a regular basis.
Loving all your photos and look forward to more.

Smartypants said...

I'm just blown away by this place - and by each area that you tell us about. I didn't realize those things about birds as pets - how sad. I'm in love with the pigs and the mental image of Jake sprinting for his food. Snowman's disappointed face nearly made me tear up, and Colt is adorable. Could I survive the emotional rollercoaster of actually being there if I can hardly handle your description of it??! :)

Laura HP said...

Fred, I'm impressed you write anything after such a busy day! When you first posted about BFAS, I went to their website to look at their bird section, it's just gorgeous. I don't understand people who have birds in a cage all day - my birds would never let me get away with that!

Fred said...

Hi Laura HP, well there's not really anything else to do in Kanab, the town by BFAS where I'm staying, in the evenings especially now that it's starting to get quite cold and dark early. So, lots of time for writing.

Smartypants, Colt has transformed into a real sweetheart this morning. No longer nervous about every little movement, he just wants to hang around by my side now.

Lynn said...

I just love your posts so much, Fred. It gives me hope for what life in a shelter can look like. The contrast between Best Friends and the concrete and chain link of most shelters is so striking.

Lynda said...

Another wonderful day at BFAS, thanks Fred!
We "rescued" our parrot about 4 years ago and she's now 35 years old! She did spend her entire life in a teeny tiny cage, but now has the run of the place! If it was up to me, parrots would never be bred here domestically. EVER.

borderjack said...

I'm really enjoying your posts about BFAS...that Colt has relaxed seems to be a testament to your way with dogs. Animals "know". And that's supported by your ability to capture such beautiful images of them, at BFAS and the animals you cover in your TAS updates.

Selfishly, I'm glad you're writing at the end of the day, because the posts about BFAS are great...and I'm learning things I never knew, like about the birds and the pigs. (Can they adopt me??? I'm happy to chase a trail of popcorn :) ! What an amazing place.

Anonymous said...

Trip of a lifetime, but I'm sure you already know this!lol

This is the kind of vacation I dream of.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe you get to have sleepovers with the dogs. Visiting this place, for me, would be a million time better then disney land! lol

It really does set the bar high, right where it should be