Thursday, January 7, 2010

best friends animal sanctuary

imagine a place nestled in a canyon where once homeless animals find the love, care and forever home they deserve. a place that runs on the philosophy that kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us.

well... this place exists.

You can find about 2,000 happy animals in kanab, utah at the best friends animal sanctuary.

since i can remember, i always felt a strong connection to animals. anyone that spends any time around me will soon realize my adoration of animals. i often work with a kitty on my desk, i shower with my bird a few times a week and i have actual conversations with my dogs in public. to anyone that thinks i'm crazy or extreme... i just think you are missing out on one of the best connections life has to offer.

my big sister shares this love of animals with me. her and my brother-in-law also share their house with me. he is also an animal lover. when we all came together we totaled 5 cats, 2 dogs, 1 parrot- all rescued animals. i consider them all my animals now.

for years now, my sister and i have had a dream of helping animals. best friends animal society has become the role model for smaller animal welfare groups around the country in an effort to create a world where there are 'no more homeless pets'. to begin our own personal planning, we visited the best friends animal sanctuary where we spent a week in november participating in the 'how to start an animal sanctuary' workshop. it was an awesome chance to ask questions, gather resources, work with the animals and create a more focused vision for how we will help animals.

on one of our tours, a sweet kitty shows off and steals the show...

faith maloney, one of the original founders, spent the week with us. her insight and dedication to best friends is inspiring. you can read more about faith and her co-founders and how they created best friends in a great read called 'best friends: the true story of the world's most beloved animal sanctuary' by samantha glen.

this kitty lined himself up perfectly for me in some great light...yay!

amos and benny are roommates. they have a spacious indoor area with an even more spacious outdoor area. amos, the giant st. bernard, was waiting to have surgery before going to the family that wanted to adopt him. benny (in the background) melted my heart. not only does he look like one of my dogs, but he has some issues like my dog. he kept his toy in his mouth the entire time i was around- it's his security toy. he did let me pet him, but he never let go of his toy. i was thankful that he trusted me enough to give him some love. precious.

perry and betty are feral dogs. they wouldn't let me get very close to them, but they were characters to hang out with. i could tell that they were interested in me, but their lives before best friends didn't give them any reason to trust people. given enough time, some feral animals will learn to trust people. i loved the way these two kept checking me out.

if my dalmatian didn't have an issue with every dog except her brother, i would have brought napoleon home for her to marry. a little old dalmatian couple would have been adorable, but my dalmatian is not interested in a relationship at this point in time so napoleon still needs a home. click here to read more about him.

best friends has more than just cats and dogs..... they've got a great pig program setup. many people (eh hem, paris hilton) are not educated about pigs and adopt them as babies. then they grow up to be...well... pigs, and are often abandoned.

view during lunch...

you might recognize this guy.... dr. mike from the show 'dogtown' on the national geographic channel which takes place at best friends. he candidly spoke to us about medical care for animals. in the background you can see best friends photographer gary kalpokoff's images of the 'vicktory' dogs.

our neighbors at best friends had 'doodle' for a sleepover one night. doodle is awesome. she is such a cool looking dog with a sweet demeanor. she was born with a neurological condition so she moves a little bit funny and the other dogs seem to pick on her. she would be an awesome addition to a loving family. if you want to adopt doodle, click here to start the process.

a little more amos...

i spent quite some time with hollie (right) and keno. hollie is a sweet, older, calm dog. she enjoyed the love i gave her. keno is no spring chicken, but this guy loves to play. you can see him in the background anxiously awaiting for me to throw his toy again. keno is also in the second picture of this blog with his nose all messy from playing and he loves it!

how can you resist this face?

best friends animal sanctuary is a magical place. every animal there is special and i am amazed that we didn't come home with one. however... i did promise one dog i would be back for him when my situation is suitable for him. look for him in my next blog...

in the meantime... think about something gandhi once said, 'the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated'.


  1. what a trip! i'm so glad i got to do this with you. you rock, little sister!

  2. Becca ( 8, 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Amazing trip (and great result - go Christie for taking that leap of faith and following your heart and dreams).

    What's even better are these photos - Shelly, you are uber talented. When I saw Christie in Copenhagen a couple of months ago we talked about your photography - and your then upcoming trip - and it's wonderful to see it all come together. You are such an inspiration. If I ever get off my butt and get married, I'm going to have to convince you to get on a plane and come over to Sweden to take pictures. You are the best!

  3. thanks becca! i don't think it will be too hard to convince me to shoot your wedding in sweden :o)

  4. Michelle, you totally amaze me. These are so beautiful. What an amazing place with an important mission!! Carly and I want to get a rescue dog... I wish we could go to Utah now to do it!

  5. aw thanks robin! yay for rescue dogs. im sure you and carly's dog will be uber cool!

  6. Such a beautiful place! WHat a great trip, I'm so amazed by it all and those cute, cute animals!