Going to the Dogs
Chapter One: Doggie Sleepovers
by Melanie Herrmann
After a long-winded time of debate and weighing options, ECC’s Youth Group decided that the perfect place to spread their love and joy was Kanab, Utah, specifically, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary. At the Sanctuary, at any given time, there are about 1,600 animals turning their lives around, receiving the medical help they need, and getting love and acceptance to help them overcome their past. From Dogs to mink, horses to roosters, cats to bunnies, pigs to sheep, and goats to owls, Best Friends serves virtually any member of the animal kingdom by giving him or her medical attention and a group home. ECC’s Youth Group was honored to be a part of their volunteer force, using our resources and abilities to build wallows for the pigs, including a 7-month old piglet named Paisley; clean and re-bed rabbit homes (where some of us discovered that we are allergic to rabbits but that didn’t stop us from getting the job done); weed a pet cemetery, walking trail, and dog parks; clean and sanitize the feline leukemia cat house; and all-in-all socialize numerous animals to make them all the more adoptable.
Not only that, but we were also able to take three amazing, gracious, adorable dogs to our rental home for a slumber party on three separate nights. These occasions are arranged by the Sanctuary to put their adoptable cats and dogs in home-life scenarios for even just a night and to give them a break from their daily communal living environment. Our first dog was a veteran of the sleepovers, a charming young man by the name of Wookie who catches the eye immediately with his lengthy tongue drooping out the side of his mouth. He was the most patient and serene dog one could find on the face of this Earth. The next night, we took home a newcomer to the sleepover scenarios: Wilber, who had just gone on his very first sleepover the previous night, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell. Wilber, keeping with his namesake, could have been mistaken for a pig if you were to meet him in the dark. He was quite the snorter and snorer, but absolutely a snuggly dream with a funny way of playing. On Thursday night, we were introduced to the one, the only, Willa (as you can see we had a W theme). Willa was a seven year-old dog from the reservation who had been at the Sanctuary for two months with mammary cancer, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t full of life. Compared to seven month-old Wilber, she had so much more energy, flying into fits of crazy, lovable running and launching off the couch. She was the most alert of all our dogs, despite her situation, and we were especially happy to make her stay with us a memorable one, by helping fulfill several points on her Bucket List. We fed her not one, but two, Big Macs, crafted her a gorgeous crown of flowers from around the property, hosted a photo shoot for her with decorative flowers, and watched a beautiful sunset. Every dog we met, whether we took them home for a sleepover or just enjoyed their company at the Sanctuary, touched our hearts and you could see the gratitude in their eyes. Indeed, that goes for every animal we came across, and it only made us work all the harder to make sure we left the Sanctuary and Utah having positively impacted those animal’s lives and environments.
Chapter Two: Our Trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
by Sophie Martinez
This summer, our youth group had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is an animal shelter located in Angel Canyon that cares for dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots, and more. On this trip, we got to work with most of the animals at the sanctuary and do multiple jobs. We dug pig wallows, scooped poop off of hiking trails, weeded, and cleaned bunny pens. It was hard work, but the reward in the end was amazing: playing with animals! We also went to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. At the parks, we hiked and took pictures of t
he gorgeous scenery. We saw hoodoos (rock formations formed by wind) at Bryce and waterfalls and mule deer at Zion. The parks were absolutely stunning, and we got to eat at both of the lodges, where bison and elk were on the menu. During our “time o
ff,” we got to have sleepovers with dogs at the house we rented in Kanab. Our group was lucky enough to have Wookie, Wilbur, and Willa come home with us for sleepovers. Each of us fell in love with one or more of these dogs, and be looking out for Willa in our future!
The Best Friends Animal Society does amazing work, and we were so blessed to be able to go on this mission trip together. As a group of ten, we worked hard and played hard, happily surprising the employees of Best Friends. On of our group coordinators, Dave, said we were a more hard working and efficient group than a group of twenty he had in the previous week.
This was a huge compliment to us and to the church. Our Encanto family made this mission trip possible, and for that we are all truly grateful. A big thanks goes out to Elise Higgenbotham and her mother, Elsa Higgenbotham, for sponsoring our wonderful trip. Thank you to our Encanto Family for supporting us on this journey and for listening to us go on about the wonderment we encountered. Our time in Utah created life-lasting memories for every one of us and most of us are hoping to go back and adopt some critters of our own!