Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hello from Elena

Hi, it's Elena tonight doing the daily update.

It was another day of special assignments! One of the caretakers up at Deja's lodge wanted to spend some time giving an informal training class with a couple of the dogs that react negatively towards other dogs just by walking by the other runs.

The first dog he worked with was a stray that was picked up on the streets of L.A. along with her 11 puppies. This little girl is only about 2 herself. He explained that most dogs that are strays typically get along with other dogs, and her reaction is atypical. Her reaction to the other dogs was more out of insecurity rather than fear along with not being used to being collared and leashed.

With this dog, he used the leash as a training tool - not by tugging back on it when she was reacting to the other dogs, but by pulling down quickly in the direction the dog was turning and re-directing her attention to him and not the other dogs. He did reward her when she exhibited good behavior and it was very interesting to see how he was able to re-direct her. The ultimate goal, of course, is for her to be able to be walked by the volunteers. It seems as though if they are able to continue working steadily with her, this could certainly become a reality. The extremely interesting part of watching this demonstration was the fact that a lot of this was going on right outside of Lucas' run, and all he did was watch and wag his tail!

The 2nd dog - Uma - was also reactive to other dogs when being walked by their runs. With this dog, he is using the clicker method. She certainly was much less stressed than the 1st one. We started out walking down the path with her walking nicely and him clicking and rewarding. She did react later when we got further along the path when she saw another dog, but again, he was quickly able to redirect her and get her on the right path.

We then got to walk a few dogs. I walked Squeaker and Pulgas. Joyce walked Laila (another Vicktory dog), Selene and Ava. Lucas was working in the office today, so we didn't get a chance to spend any time with him.

It was then time for lunch! They have the most delicious vegetarian lunches!! And such a deal!

After lunch we went back to Dogtown and pooped scooped the walking trail. They walk a lot of dogs on it each day and as you can imagine, it gets pooped on a lot! We left around 3:00. It was a very hot, sunny day and we were fried.

We had dinner with one of our friends who used to be a caretaker at the Lodges and is now retired. He still goes up every Friday and spends the entire day walking the red collar dogs.

Oh, by the way, our formal dinner attire generated many compliments last night! We left John Wayne dressed in one of our pink outfits! One of the funniest parts was when we drove into the parking lot to see a lot of cars and a couple men standing outside talking! Joyce says, "Isn't this a formal attire restaurant?" They got a good laugh and we had a great time!

See you tomorrow!

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Long walks

Today we took Candy, our sleepover dog, back to Old Friends after a great night with her. Candy is young, under 5 years, but had an autoimmune problem that needed special attention and that is why she went to Old Friends. Last night was Candy's very first sleep over and she did great. We know she will be adopted - she is a great dog!

After taking her home, we headed over to Dogtown and up to the Lodges, our favorite place to work. Nancy was assigned to making meals, Elena and I headed out to dog walk. Now I know that may not be a fancy assignment, but by us doing these things, it frees up the caretakers to do other important things.

The walking trail winds up and down the canyon and the scenery is beautiful. But I have to admit, you really get a work out doing it. The trail up and back must be a little under a mile with steep inclines. This is why all the caretakers are so nice a slim. My first walk was with my friend Lucas, a Vicktory dog. I was told he may not walk the entire distance, so to let him be the judge of it. So off we go...

Lucas was so happy - stopping to smell everything and occasionally just gazing off, sniffing the air. He is enjoying his new life, filled with hands-on love from volunteers and nice walks. When we got to the very end of the trail and it was time to turn around, he froze by a bench that is there. I tried to get him to move but he just sat down, so I joined him. Seems all he wanted was some love and to kiss me for a few minutes, then he was ready to go.

I have to say, when the walks are over, the dogs are excited to get back in their runs. They know they will get a treat and love their runs because each animal is loved and treated with respect.

After Lucas, it was time to walk Yo-Yo, a chocolate pitty that is so sweet. We went up the first incline and then she decided it was nap time - laid right down, rolled on her back and refused to move. I sat with her rubbing her belly until another dog walker came along. Then, I had to make her move because walkers are not allowed to allow any dogs to come in contact. Everyone has to maintain a safe distance from each other.

After Yo-Yo was home, off I went with Snow, a medium size. long hair dog that was a sweetheart. She almost pulled my arm out of socket because she was a lizard leaper, so intent on catching them. Luckily for all the lizards, they all got away. Right before lunch we were assigned another special assignment which will be available hints!!

We are exhausted and covered with red sand, but feel great! Obviously I love being here and love the work of Best Friends. They should be applauded for saving the Vicktory dogs, fighting the legal battles and investing the time, effort and finances to rehab these dogs. They have proved to the world that it can be done although we knew it all along. The day to day caretakers of these dogs deserve a standing ovation because it was their daily dedication and love that has helped these poor dogs learn what love is.

Tonight we are meeting friends at our favorite place, the Buffalo Bistro, for dinner and they are in for a surprise - we are going formal! Yep that's what the evening gowns are for. Hey, we work hard, but we also have to have fun!!!

Later, friends....

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More news from Joa’s Arc Joyce M out at Best Friends in Utah...

Elena wrote: "This was our sleepover dog last night. Her first chance at a sleepover and she was fantastic! They are working on some autoimmune issues with her, but she is going to make someone a wonderful companion"

Last night's sleep over with the Jersey Girls was apparently Candy's first and everyone loved her.

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Dog(s) Day

This post is being posted from New Jersey, but believe me - all of it's from Utah where our Joyce M is currently volunteering at Best Friends.

First off, Joyce posted this wonderful picture yesterday on Facebook.

Older dogs are not only "extra special", but this one in particular means a lot to Joyce and "the Jersey Girls." This is Mr. Bones, old man, Dogtown star, proof that even older ones deserve (and can find) adopters and a dog who even in death is loved very much. Joyce wrote yesterday, "Mr. Bones - Saw this on the wall at Dogtown. Mr Bones with his mom, Sharon. Adopt an older dog!!"

After helping his new mom raise the money to make the long journey from Utah to the east coast with Mr. Bones (he couldn't fly due to his age and frail condition), the Jersey Girls returned Mr. Bones's ashes in April 2009 to finally rest at Angels Rest.

We also got word yesterday from Joyce that her bud, Lucas, had recently passed some tests and was allowed to have visitors. Joyce texted me, "So excited. Spending hands on time with Lucas a vicktory dog after lunch!!!"

Overcome with excitement, it looks like Joyce needed a bit of a nap (note her awesome shirt - Joa’s Arc!), so she took a nap during lunch... or maybe, like a cat, she's just soaking up the sun.

Back to Lucas - This is the first time in several years that Joyce and Elena will finally be able to touch Lucas, who they have loved through a cage. Lucas was one of 20-some dogs to come to best friends and be deemed the "Vicktory Dogs" - Lucas was never to be adopted out or handled by anyone other than staff and that, believe it or not, was a blessing since a lot of places were calling for the death of these dogs. Best Friends and Lucas proved those wrong though and he's making a wonderful recovery!

Elena wrote, "Vick's main fighting dog is now a dog who loves people and is able to have visitors! Go Best Friends!"

Joyce wrote, "I can't describe how happy I was to finally show Lucas hands on love. He is such a love and quite the kisser. Five years of admiring from afar. This is one of the reasons I love BF's....they never give up."

Below is a quick video Joyce took while with Lucas yesterday also to which she added the note: "Our visit with Lucas, a Vicktory dog that was one of seven that was just purple collared which means he can have volunteers come into his run. Very emotional for us. He is a love!"

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012


At some point yesterday it looks like Joa’s Arc's Joyce M went to visit our friend Carol P's "gone, but not forgotten kitty", Joker.

She didn't mention this specifically in her blog post, but I wanted to add the photo.

Be safe, Joyce! We're loving you blogging from Kanab :)

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Wow another long day in Kanab

Wow another long day in Kanab.

Nancy, Elena and another friend, also named Joyce who lives in Kanab, started out at Best Friends at 10am to do the tour. Although we are frequent visitors, doing the tour is necessary to us because there are always changes and it is a great way to see what is new. Thousands of people yearly come to take the tour, it is offered for free which I think is really cool. Here is a link to some of it:

First, we watched an intro DVD in the visitor center giving a little history of BF's, their mission of a no-kill nation, their programs and how everyone can help to achieve this. One statement that was said that hit home was "There is someone for every homeless animal, some just take a little longer to find". Hmmm, makes you wonder doesn't it?

We always follow behind the tour vans in our convertible and are given a DVD to listen to about the sanctuary along with a walkie talkie to talk to the guide if necessary. Raven was our guide today and has been for the past couple years. She is terrific. No matter how many times I ride thru the canyon, the beauty is overwhelming...

We stopped in a section of cats and one cat, Mr Jimmy, was working his magic on me, trying hard to convince me to take him home. I look in the eyes of these cats and think, "kitties, you are in heaven compared to other places in this world" They are the lucky ones.

After completing the tour which is about 90 minutes, we went to Angels Village to lunch. There we met many of our friends, having lunch with several of the founders of BF's. They always make us feel special, like they couldn't do it without us. Of course, we know they can, but it feels so good to be appreciated. Honestly they treat all the volunteers like that too, which is the way any rescue or shelter should do. After lunch we explored the canyon, climbing some rocks and walking some trails. It was breath taking and fun.

Just ran around the rest of the day then grabbed a quick dinner. Just as we were settling down around 8:30pm, there was a knock on the door. To our surprise, Joyce and Ed Bush stopped over to visit. We met them several years ago when we rented one of their rentals and became great friends. They owned the local pharmacy and worked long hours, but we were always able squeeze a lunch or dinner in with them and visit their lovely home and their adorable two dogs. Well they sold the pharmacy and are now retired so it was a great evening sitting chatting with them. They are two of the most generous, kind-hearted people I have ever met.

Oh and one more thing. We were told several of the Vicktory dogs passed their canine tests and are now allowed to have visitors in their runs. We are so excited. Over the past five years, we have watched these poor, abused, tortured dogs learn to trust humans and experience love. They have made such strides. Last year I would sit outside their runs, talking to them thru a fence and now it looks like I will actually be able to sit inside and touch them, I am so excited. Talk with you tomorrow! - Joyce

Want to know where Joyce M volunteers every year and is blogging from? Check out Best Friends Animal Society

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In Case You're Concerned...

Joa’s Arc's Joyce M has described Best Friends as peaceful, fun, hard work, long days, a lot of love. I've heard her say how they go to the food store covered in dirt and have competitions on who can fill up their poop buckets the fastest out on the trails.

Well, just in case you're worried poor Joyce is on her hands and knees in orange dirt scraping up dog poo, let me reassure you with these first few glimpses she shared...

Oh and there's also this video of her snazzy shower as well

LOL Couldn't help myself, Joyce. I had to share these!

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Made It To Kanab

Well we made it to kanab after 12 hours of traveling

We stopped at the Border Store which is a liquor store on the Arizona border 5 miles outside of town. Helen the owner dubs herself the Ugly Liquior Lady. She is such a character and is always glad to see us. We took her nice comfy slippers because she has trouble with her feet and a bouquet of flowers. She is a feisty one but a kind soul who we look forward to seeing every year.

We are exhausted but looking forward to our adventures. We will be heading to Best Friends in the morning to take the tour which we always do since there is always changes. Then lunch with friends then exploring Angels Canyon.

Want to know where Joyce M volunteers every year and is blogging from? Check out Best Friends Animal Society

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