Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Help Meowt - Remembering the Cats of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and My Life Changing Visit

This post is sponsored by Tidy Cats®

As the holidays approach, our hearts are filled with gratitude. Gratitude for a safe and warm home. Gratitude for healthy food. And most of all, gratitude for the love of our family, friends and furry companions who enrich our lives with their unconditional love. 

Our hearts are also with those who are not as lucky we are. Those who need just a little help, someone to share their love, and those who are waiting for a forever home. Through their Help Meowt campaign, Tidy Cats® is helping us give back to a rescue organization we hold very near and dear to our hearts. On behalf of GLOGIRLY.com, Tidy Cats is donating two palettes of litter to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. 

When we were asked to select a shelter, one that we perhaps had volunteered for or had touched us in some way, Glogirly was flooded with memories of her life-changing trip to Best Friends last year.

So today, we're turning over the blog from our paws to our girl. No funny quips between us kitties, just lots of love for some beautiful cats who although may not have their own family or soft sofa to curl up on, but are truly loved and cared for as they wait for that purrfect person to walk into their lives and say, "You're the one." 

~Katie and Waffles


A Little Best Friends History
A shared passion and dedication to kindness for all living things is what brought a group of 21 idealistic people with a dream together a little over three decades ago. This shared passion is what helped them to create the world's largest no-kill animal rescue organization. The sanctuary sits on 3,700 majestic acres of the Utah landscape Best Friends has appropriately named Angel Canyon. With a family of over 1,500 Best Friends Network Partner shelter and rescue organizations across the country, it's all about a common goal. Save Them All.


Cat World at the Sanctuary



Love.

If I had to sum up my visit with the cats, volunteers, and caregivers of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary's Cat World, it would have to be Love. My prayers answered would mean forever homes for every single one of the 550 beautiful cats that Best Friends cares for in their 11 kitty-comfortable and well-appointed cat houses. But if you're a cat waiting to be adopted or being helped to become adoption-ready, this is surely the place to be.

It's so peaceful. There's this calming energy present that reminded me of how important it is to slow down and appreciate the small and the subtle. I had visited all the other areas of the sanctuary before I arrived at Cat World, and was on such a high, taking everything in. From the ruckus of the chatty parrots to the boundless energy of puppies taking their first leashed walk outside, it was like a marathon for my animal-loving senses. But when I walked into Benton House, the original and first cat building on the sanctuary grounds, everything slowed down. It was like I'd found my zen.

My friend and traveling companion Maggie with one of the sweet cats from Benton House.
Benton House is home to many of the special needs cats at Best Friends. I quietly entered one of the five cat rooms, each home to 10-15 cats, and sat down on the floor. I suppressed my desire to scoop them all up in my arms. I knew that I needed to give them a chance to investigate and accept me. One by one, the cats came over to check me out, say hello, and take a peek at the big camera I was toting. 

Saying hello back is something you have to take slow. But gaining trust came easy. The cats reminded me of the importance of taking the time to enjoy the simple things. Neck scritches, head butts, soft and gentle conversation. 

And love.


Volunteering

There are two 3-hour volunteer shifts everyday at Best Friends. People come from all over the country to volunteer, often as part of a family vacation. I met Numi, the sweetest young girl who was volunteering with her mother, Isabelle. They had driven in from Salt Lake City. Their job, just like mine, was to simply socialize with the cats. They were just peacefully sitting on the floor in one of the rooms with cats all around and on top of them. Numi was reading a story to the cats.

The gift of just being with these beautiful cats was so moving. And Numi's soft voice filled the room with a presence that meant the cats were anything but alone.


Catio Heaven




Each of the 11 houses has about five individual cat rooms where a small group of cats reside together. The spacious rooms each have places to sleep, climb, scratch, play, hide, look out the windows, eat, drink, and use the litter box. And each of these rooms has it's own catio.

The catios (shown above) are glorious. The cats can enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors in a safe and stimulating environment. Some can even catch a passerby leaf or lizard through the mesh walls. The climbing structures are made from repurposed wood originally used to build some of the first structures on the sanctuary grounds and provide a perfect path up into the rafters where a kitty super-highway awaits.


Hello Slidell

The first cat to greet me when I walked into Benton House was the sweetest little girl with huge green eyes. Slidell is a 5-year-old special needs kitty. Shel can't use her back legs, but they don't cause her any pain or slow her down. She's FIV+ and incontinent, so needs to have her bladder expressed and she also takes some daily medications. She's not a fan of her daily baths, but she always cooperates.

Like all the special needs cats of Benton House, Slidell doesn't know she's any different. She just knows she's a cat.  A beautiful, loving and trusting cat. She just needs the right person to come along and be her 'one.'


Have Stroller Will Travel

Some of the kitties at Best Friends enjoy going for walks, both on harness and leash as well as in strollers. The Meowzers Meander is a beautiful path created just for the cats. It winds through the trees and bushes, connecting many of the cat houses. There's a shaded gazebo with benches for resting in the breeze.

Holly, the beautiful calico girl pictured above, LOVES going outside in her stroller. I took her for a stroll and roll so she could smell the sunshine. 


The Lovers Room

One of the things that touched me the most about my time in Benton House was how special each and every cat is to the caregivers. They know them all by name, they know their stories, their personalities, and silly little habits. They know who their buddies are and what makes each of them happy. They do absolutely everything they can to help each cat become ready for adoption, at their own pace and in their own way.

One of the last cat rooms I visited was called the Lovers Room. All of the cats in this particular room were incredibly affectionate with one another. They groomed each other, exchanged head butts and literally stuck together like glue. If two cats have bonded, the caregivers make sure they are adopted together. No exceptions. 


Angels Rest
The most moving experience of my visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and one of the most moving experiences of my life was Angels Rest. It's the final resting place for sanctuary animals and beloved companions of Best Friends members and staff. It's much more than just a cemetery. It's a place of peace and reverence. It's evidence of the love and respect we hold for our pets and for all animals.

The gorgeous grounds took my breath away. Walking paths wind through the entire space and small markers are placed at each grave. Every single animal is celebrated and honored, both in name and in-ceremony. Each month, memorial services are held on the grounds of Angels Rest for those animals who have passed away.

With so much to take in visually, I was completely focussed on getting just the right photos. Everything I saw...I just knew everyone would want to see it. 

And then it hit me.

The Voices of Angels


It can be windy in the canyon, but when I first arrived it was eerily quiet. Then suddenly, like someone tapping me on the shoulder, the breeze wafted through the air and the flutter of a thousand wind chimes began to ring. Soft at first, then a concert of notes as the powerful gusts took over.

And I realized what I was hearing.

The sound of a thousand angels. Those animals who may not have experienced love and compassion in life were loved and respected in death. I cried.

I cried for the souls of the cats who never had their own sofa to curl up on or a human companion to sleep with at night. I cried for the dogs that never had their own yard to play in and the Champions rescued from unspeakable acts. I cried for the young ones who didn't make it and the elders who could wait no longer. I cried for all the animals and their caregivers.

Gratitude

I want to thank the volunteers and staff at Best Friends. The dedication they have to their cause to Save Them All knows no bounds. They continue to inspire me through the unconditional love and compassion they show for the animals in their care. 

I want to thank Tidy Cats for allowing me the opportunity to give back to Best Friends and to share my story and images with you.

I want to thank ALL the tireless volunteers and advocates across the country for the love and care they give to animals less fortunate. Bless you.

And finally, I want to thank you, my friends and devoted readers of this blog, and all the Katie and Waffles fangirls and fanboys out there for allowing me to share my life with you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Love,
Glogirly


FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Tidy Cats®, which means that we were paid to create and feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on our blog that we believe are of interest to our readers.


15 comments:

  1. That is so generous of Tidy Cats. I know it will be greatly appreciated. Your post was beautiful

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  2. That was so generous of Tidy Cats. A friend of mine found a partially paralyzed kitten, and Best Friends welcomed the kitten with open arms. The cats has been there several years now, her name is Eliana. Two of my friends have volunteered there, (one from Florida, and one from Wisconsin) and both were able to visit with Eliana. It's such a great organization.

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  3. What a pawsome things for Tidy Cats to do.

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  4. Such a beautiful and special place! And that is very generous of Tidy Cat.

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  5. What a moving and lovely post of gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  6. Waffles usually makes me laugh every day. Today I find myself with tears rolling down my face. What a beautiful post. Your descriptions made me feel like I was there watching you. Spending a week at Best Friends is on my bucket list, up near the top. Your words remind me that I need to stop thinking about it and do it. Thank you for sharing your memories, and for sharing Katie and Waffles with us all year long.

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  7. hold on - mom needs a tissue. we are glad you could give back with some help. mom and the kid are headed back to Best Friends again next spring....it is an amazingly special place.

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  8. Thank you for a wonderful heart warming blog today I felt shivers down my spine when you mentioned the wind chimes and the angels. Such a very special place. Bless you all.x

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  9. Paws up to Tidy Cats! We think Best Friends is a pawsome place.

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  10. it takes a lot to make me cry, but this did it. what a wonderful place, and thanks for sharing it with us. I worked in retail so I know how much 2 pallets are. that is a LOT of litter! it is what we use at home, so I know it is a great product. again glogirly, and thanks for sharing, and for the joy you bring to my inbox.

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  11. What a moving post, paws up for Tidy Cats and Best Friends ! Purrs

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  12. Thank you for sharing. The story about the wind chimes brought tears to my eyes.

    We're so thankful for our friends in the cat blogging world. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Truffle, Brulee, and Mom Paula

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  13. What a wonderful place. We love the idea of a lovers room - how sweet and thoughtful.

    Julie and Poppy Q
    xxx

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  14. Very moving (kleenex at hand) Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving! http://catwhisperer.blogspot.ca/2010/01/gone-but-not-forgotten.html > a retrospective post of the babies gone from our lives, pre-internet.

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