Thursday, September 20, 2012

Volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

When you're in Kanab, you may have a free morning or a dull afternoon to deal with. Why not spend it at Best Friends? It's easy.

  • Go to the Welcome Center. It's impossible to miss from 89, going north out of Kanab. Just follow the signs.
  • Ask for a tour. Free! There are four every day, and a tour takes about 90 minutes. This is also an easy way to see some beautiful countryside.
  • It's all here.

If you like what you see, and you're thinking about volunteering, tell them so when you get back to the front desk. They'll get you set up with a brief orientation time, and then you'll sign up for the department of your choice. Pigs fill up quickly, in an ironic twist.

I Hugged a Cowboy: tales of the Southwest

I have alluded to my fear of horses. We signed up for horse doody on Saturday, which is pretty much like it sounds. You grab some work gloves and a pitchfork, and Ron drives you through the canyon on a Polaris Ranger. We shoveled poop for a cumulative total of maybe 15 minutes, with a tour in-between piles.

I confessed to Ron that I was afraid of horses, and he was very reassuring. He told us how to be with them, and how to fend them off if they got too friendly.

I was inside their pastures STANDING RIGHT BESIDE HORSES. I touched them, and spoke to them, and scritched their necks. I even turned my back on them. Curly Sue followed me to the turd castles to make sure I was doing it right. Rocky got up-close-and-personal with my water bottle to look for the apple-mint treats he was sure I carried.

Rocky's girlfriend, Cassia. Cassia was severely abused in her previous life, and has permanent back injuries and trust issues. They believe she was a Mexican tripping horse. Her trainer demonstrates her Parelli training, a completely gentle technique.
Rocky moved to Best Friends when it was realized he was in serious pain with his bad feet. A trainer there determined to take him in, either to manage his pain, or to euthanize him. Now, BF's ferrier works with his feet, and Rocky is on pain medication all the time. He is a happy, active horse. With a cute girlfriend. And, they're both retired! Life has gotten a lot better for these two.

Anasazi grain storage facility, and Ron

800 - 1000 year-old corn cobs. Don't bother trying to compost them.


185,000,000 years ago, giant carnivorous cows roamed Utah. We're lucky enough to have the fossil record.
From Hidden Lake

Toward Hidden Lake

Kanab Creek forms a slot canyon

Anasazi hand prints

Potsherds. Ron holds some rarer decorated sherds.
Silver's Point. Hi-yo Silver! That Silver.
Turtle Rock. Yarmulke or beret? [I'm stealing Ron's jokes]

Ren was probably a ranch hand, and this is likely his headstone. This is now about seven feet above the ground, and was probably a couple of feet lower in 1883. Next visit, I'll show you Ren.

Anasazi dwelling. Bottom half of wall was still intact when it was rediscovered.
People still wonder what happened to the Anasazis. DNA testing indicates the Hopis and Zunis are descendants, and so it's possible nothing "happened" to them. They may just have moved and formed new groups.

If you get here to work, just don't miss the "horse tour." Ron loves showing people this stuff, and most people (us) wouldn't know to ask about it. 

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Donna K said...

Wow! Is all that on Best Friends land? What a fantastic tour. Love the giant petrified cow pie haha..

The Good Luck Duck said...

Yeah, I think it is, Donna. Even the cow pie.

Gaelyn said...

Dang, I didn't know all that was around there.

Anonymous said...

Such a great tour! Utah is such a beautiful, interesting state.

I love horses. They're so gentle, even though some of them will bite (I got bit on the shoulder once).

Thank you for promoting Best Friends so much. They're a great organization. <3

The Good Luck Duck said...

The secret is the horse poop, Gaelyn. Ask for some, and the door opens!

The Good Luck Duck said...

It really was, Molly. It really is. Yeah, I wasn't afraid enough of horses when I was little, and I did get snapped at.

And, it's my pleasure to promote them. I'm utterly smitten.

Rubye Jack said...

Why did I think the Anasazis were down in Arizona? Anyway, I think you're right they just moved on and had kids who became the Hopis and Zunis. Everything about these groups/tribes is so interesting.

The Good Luck Duck said...

I don't know much about the Anasazis, RJ, but you're right - bands of them were in Arizona. And, this is very southern Utah.

Anonymous said...

Horses scared the crap out of me when I was little. I still don't feel relaxed standing next to 'em.

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Didnt know the Anasazis no longer existed. The writer Tony Hillerman's novels are about (I thought) an Anasazis detective.
Fascinating pictures. Thank you

Cheryl said...

Gee, I should have stayed longer - but I didn't want to "wear out my welcome." I absolutely fell in love with Best Friends and the surrounding area.

Afterwards, I went to Show Low, AZ to meet up with my friends who have property there. (Actually 20 miles outside.) Pack rats abound there and they managed to chew up my welcome mat outside my RV. When I heard they ALSO like to chew engine wires, it was time for me to go. Dang it, I also got stung by a yellow jacket which are as plentiful as the evil monkeys in the Wizard of OZ.

OMG, my bed feels good...

Teri said...

Thanks for the information. This is a nice piece of property that they own. You could spend a year in the Four Corners area and never see all of the Anasazi dwellings. I will have to wait til another year travel that way. I have to head straight down to Texas when I leave Mesa Verde, I will be volunteering at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and I start on November 4th.

Jim and Sandie said...

We didn't get the horse tour so now we have something to look forward to next time.

Anonymous said...

Tony Hillerman's character was a Navajo.

Bob said...

Well, if you're going to show Ren, I'm sure I wouldn't mind seeing Stimpy as well. Just sayin'.

Are they "sherds" or "shards". "Tomato" "Tomahto"? I thought that was a typo, (what? you? No!) but apparently the two definitions are similar.

Is this like the way some Yanks say they're going to go "warsh up"? when they really mean to say, "wash up"? Never understood where that extra "r" comes from. I probably shouldn't say anything about your "r"s.
Would that be inappropriate?

Wakka wakka.

I'm here all night. Be sure and tip your server.

Teri said...

Bob, I'm working at Mesa Verde and the tour guides say and write "sherds". I thought it was wrong, too.

Al Bossence said...

Sounds like you guys are just having waaaaaay to much fun over there in Kanab. Good for you folks in volunteering to help with the animals. The animal world needs more people with priorities like that. Did you know the old TV set from 'Gunsmoke' is just outside Kanab somewhere. East of town I think.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Al, there is definitely waaaay too much fun to be had here. It feels good to be here, like a respite from the way I perceive much of the world to be.

We did see the Gunsmoke set! It's cool. It's private property now, and off-limits because it's getting rundown, but there are still good pictures to be had for a guy with a nice camera and the knack.

Yeah. Potsherds. I said "shards" and Ron explained that (although he had thought it wrong, too), "shards" are glass and "sherds" are pottery.

Don't ever change, Bob! Where ya from? Lookin' good! I hope Stimpy is in better condition than I predict for Ren. And, I'm not sure where that "R" comes from. "Warsh" sounds like a hill dialect, doesn't it? And, some boroughs of NY add one at the end of things, like "tunar."

Donna, Anonymous says "Navajo," and I've never read him, so I can't say.

Teri, I'm getting that sense about their population. There are 145 discovered sites here just on their 3000 acres. I'll Google your new gig. Is it very far south in Texas?

Cheryl, you were in no danger of doing that. I know you had a birthday gala to attend, though. What did you think of their property? Annie just got stung by something the other day. I used to be anaphylactically allergic to wasp stings, but I'm thinking all those Igs are dead by now.

Jim and Sandie, it's good to know there's something to come back for. Besides helping all those animals, I mean.

Bleen, I had a similar problem. I was thrown when I was quite young, and horses never seemed quite as benevolent again.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Horses and sherds and Anasazi ruins. You're talking my kinda fun. Great post. Really enjoyed seeing your photos.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Thanks, Teresa! It turns out it was our kind of fun, too.

Jim and Gayle said...

Can't wait to do the horse tour next time we get to Best Friends. Is poop shoveling a requirement??
Good interview at Tinsilly. You just might convince some people to hit the road before it's too late.

Sherry said...

Great post on Best Friends. What a wonderful place. We loved it when we visited but we didn't stay as long as you guys did.

We had two horses and two burros (adopted from Fund for Animals). All 4 were great and as different as any 4 people you know. But I quit riding after the great horseman Christopher Reeves who knew his horse very well had his injury. After that my loved ones became grass mowers unto death and good at it they were.

I would love to hang out with the horses and get the Anasazi tour. Next time for sure. I'm not anonymous and I've read Tony Hillerman and he is writing about the Navajo. Wonder if they too are descendents??

The Good Luck Duck said...

Gayle, I suppose you could suddenly have an attack that passed once the poop was picked up. I had never done it, but I didn't mind (even though I am ridiculously suburban). We didn't do a lot of it...

Thanks about the interview. I know that retirement age is perfect for lots of people to hit the road, but it was good for me to remember that we don't all make it.

Sherry, that would have scared me off the saddle, too. I know they loved having you at face level so they could snorffle you. I don't know about the Navajo's ancestry. I think Anasazi means "ancient ones," so I'm not sure if it denotes a specific nation, or is a broader description of earlier people.

Soaring Sun said...

It is very cool that you get to see and handle actual old relics like that, instead of them being locked up in a museum somewhere. What a fabulous opportunity! Thank you for sharing this.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Sue, I'll thank you not to talk about Annie that way, even though she is a great opportunity.

Levonne said...

I love visiting the Anasazi ruins and imagining what life was like for those folks. The theme of animal rescue is coming up lots lately and I seem to see these facilities everywhere. Maybe I should go in?

The Good Luck Duck said...

Maybe you should, Levonne!

Steve said...

A great book about the Anasazi and where some of them went is 'House of Rain' by Craig Childs. It is available for Kindle. In it he mentions the word Anasazi is actually a Navajo word meaning "enemy ancestors", thus not used by the Hopi. It would be a great book to read while you are staying in the SW desert.


tstda62 said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. You are getting a great feel for my part of the country. Seems like you have fallen in love with it and feel the pull it has for those who are lucky enough to spend some time here. The South West has a spiritual feel to it in it's sky, colors, climate, shapes, plants, animals etc etc. You need to read some of Tony Hillerman's books. I just took them off the Paper Back Book Swap and donated them. Too bad because I would have liked to have sent you some of them.

Nan said...

Wonderful tour and photos. Thanks, you two!

The Good Luck Duck said...

Thanks for the rec, Steve. What do the Hopi call them?

Thank you, 62! We do love it here. Are you in Utah? I'll check PBS, or browse thrift stores for him.

Thanks, Nan, and you're so welcome!

Merikay said...

Looking forward to seeing that area someday. Your pictures are great.

Anonymous said...

So glad you got to volunteer at best friends. It's near and dear to my heart. My brother works in the wild friends program there. Did you eat at the cafeteria? They always have a great vegan options! :)

The Good Luck Duck said...

Really, Somer? That's the one department we didn't work in, since they can only accept one (?) volunteer per shift. Very cool.

OH MAN, did we eat at the cafeteria! We ate there before we worked, after we worked, days we didn't work. We got clued into the vegan options, so then we ate even more.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I remember after volunteering in cats one day years ago that I had my first ratatouille! That started my love affair with eggplant! So glad you're having such a good time there. I adore Kanab and the landscape is unbeatable!