Rescue Village

Day 1 of my second week at Best Friends was a little rough. The whole of Southern Utah woke up to about a foot of snow, with even more tumbling out of the sky as big, fat flakes. I, along with most of the other employees, trudged very slowly to the sanctuary to start a cold morning of work. No sooner had I arrived, I was promptly told it was a red snow day and that all non-essential personnel would be sent home. I had time to watch a safety video about rabbits, see the runs, and then I was shooed back into the snow. So I slowly trudged home and went grocery shopping instead. It might be the only long weekend I have ever had that I wasn’t really grateful for. I wanted to be with the animals. Nevertheless, Dragon Age got some much-needed play time.

snow1 snow3

By the end of the day, it was piled up almost 2 feet in places and lots of vehicles were in the ditch, including a jack knifed semi. Let’s just thank the mule deer that I got back to the house safely. By the way, it’s still gorgeous out here in the canyon, with snow lingering on the red dirt and hanging from the red rocks…maybe a photo later in the week.

Day 2, I showed back up and was finally able to work with some bunnies! Well, I was able to work around them, as bunnies are not so helpful (about as helpful as cats, and probably most animals) in the cleaning department. Working with any animal requires a lot of cleaning, a lot of patience, a lot of self-forgiveness – you will NOT get all the poop, you just won’t – a lot more cleaning, and some treat time. I didn’t get many photos on day 2, but today I got a whole bunch because my job was to supervise a bonding, and they did so well that I had time to observe the other bunnies.

What is bonding? With rabbits, they prefer being with a buddy, or companion, rather than living alone. They are just happier when they can share their life with another bunny that has the same ideals and goals and loves cilantro the same amount. Also they are great at grooming each other in those hard-to-reach places, so there’s a big health benefit there. Rabbits are fiercely territorial and will fight to the death (by biting each other’s genitals) if they aren’t familiarized. Basically, the rabbits are slowly introduced to each other every day in small increments until they can tolerate each other safely without micromanagement. This can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks, starting at 20 minutes together and leading up to 4 hours or more a day, depending on their temperaments. Today was day 21 of the bonding experience between Teddy and Courtney, both females. Yesterday, they were together for 40 minutes before Courtney started pulling fur out of Teddy and they had to be separated. Today, I watched them for two and a half hours with minimal aggression (some thumping of the feet and one or two chase scenes, but no guns were drawn and no cars were wrecked) and they were only separated because it was the end of the day. Success! Here’s Teddy, a very overweight bun with great markings who loves grooming Courtney even though she picks on her:


Teddy’s profile:

I didn’t really get to hang out with the rest of the rabbits, but I kind of tried to watch them during the afternoon to see how they behaved. They’re all really cute, but they are pretty independent and don’t crave human interaction, unless you’re feeding them.

LyleAbove is Lyle, he lives with the adorable Netherland dwarf pictured below. It’s tough being roomies with someone so miniature, but Lyle handles it pretty well by being outgoing and quick. Lyle really likes romaine, but only the soft part of the leaf, not the hard stem. His head is a little blurry in this photo because rabbits move fast and randomly.

Lyle’s Profile:


Charlie is a Netherland dwarf (thanks, Jade!) with an attitude. He knows how cute he is, and flashes his baby blues every chance he gets. He forms this fantastic little green moustache after eating his favorite treat – cilantro – which is what he’s chomping on in the photo above, and I’ve been told that if he eats raspberries, he sports a lovely grin full of lipstick!

Charlie’s profile:

And this is Conley. I’m hoping to learn more about him tomorrow, but I did notice that when he moves, he drags his hips and rear legs around, rather than hopping – which I assume is from a back injury, arthritis, or something related to old age. He was slightly shy and would pull himself into his hide box when he was frightened, but I managed to sneak a video of him nomming on some delicious romaine. Something about the sound of a bunny chewing is reminiscent of a cat purring, and is actually quite relaxing to me. Maybe I am a rabbit person, after all.

Conley’s profile:


Squirt, Zinnia, & Annette

Yesterday was my last day in cats. I had a lot of conflicted feelings around working with cats in general, which kept my week interesting. Initially, I was stoked to be working with cats, I mean, I’ve had cats my whole life, so I knew that I liked them. Then I remembered that I absolutely abhorred cleaning out litter boxes, and wasn’t sold on the prospect that if I took a job as a cat caregiver, I’d have to do that every day. By day 3, I was finally learning many of the cats’ names and personalities, and litter boxes were fairly easy since they were being dumped and refilled every day, not scooped – plus the process was pretty much streamlined thanks to years of experience by past caregivers. By Friday, I was looking online for a job with the cats in Casa de CalMar (thanks to another intern who already applied and needs a roommate if this all works out, she’s also extremely cool and I’m really glad that our lives have crossed paths).

For week 2 of my internship here at Best Friends, I’ll be working with rabbits. I have only had bad experiences with rabbits in the past, but I’m determined to make this a better adventure and work my hardest (even with my sprain boot still on, which I’ll write about…eventually) to learn more about them. Until Monday though, here are a few more friends I made while working in Cat World, including some wild turkeys:

And then I couldn’t pick just one, so here’s Squirt, Zinnia, and Annette, the extraordinary lobby cats.

BFAS - Squirt, Zinna, Annette

Squirt is usually sleeping in the window and rarely leaves her perch. Whenever I walked past her room, she would raise her little head and say “hey!” in the squeakiest mew, squinting her blue eyes at the disturbance. It was really difficult not to shower her adorable innocence with affection.

Zinnia is a lovely little Russian Blue who loves full body rubs. Anytime I would sit in the room, she was on my lap and stretching out to the full length of my thighs. She kneaded my knees during a good petting, and left quite a few love pricks through my jeans.

Annette is a stoic, but temperamental tabby with the silkiest fur. She’d sleep in a bed that sat waist high in the narrow hallway. Sometimes she was so deep into her kitty dreams that she’d tolerate me loving on her; other times she would swat and hiss anyone that invaded her bubble (which ranged from the tips of her whiskers to the entire hallway). Annette also was a great supervisor during meal prep, and made sure to taste test everything before it went out. Quality control at its finest!

All of these cats are ‪‎FeLV‬+ and love the company of other felines.

Squirt’s profile:
Zinnia’s profile:
Annette’s profile:


After a long morning spent cleaning out rooms full of cats and all the messy things that come with that, the afternoon was a welcome respite. I returned to find a cat that wanted some alone time, and was told he really enjoyed walks. So we harnessed him up and took him outside. Mind you, I’m still only in the first week and a half of wearing my lovely tall sprain boot (for the sprained ankle I may have forgotten to mention…anyway, my left ankle is sprained), so getting around is slightly awkward and cumbersome – not to mention loud. Velcro. Velcro everywhere. Luckily, the cats seem to enjoy the sound, or at least they don’t mind it…look, they’re not complaining, ok? Barney actually liked my boot because it’s like a mobile chin scratcher, and since I followed him around, it was ever so convenient. Here’s a short teaser of what most of our walk looked like:

And here’s Barney from the front – note his happy claws digging into the sand (and his freckled nose!):

BFAS - Barney

I’ve tried walking cats before, and it’s always ended right as it began…because thecat turned into a sack of cement. Here at ‪Best Friends, they have many furry friends that enjoy strolls through the high desert landscape, including felines! The thing I had to remember was that I do not walk the cat, the cat walks me. Beautiful Barney (Bo’s brother) took me on a nice little jaunt around Cat World this afternoon and showed me his favorite spots. He talked a bit, occasionally rolled in the dirt, and stopped to snack on dry grass, but he was a great tour guide. He’s FeLV‬+ and always looking for a new adventure.

Barney’s Profile:








I’ve passed the halfway mark on my first week as an intern at Best Friends Animal Society. I feel like I’ve learned a ton, yet there’s so much more I don’t know. I’m trying to pay attention to everything and keep mental notes, but my internal filing system is overflowing. Thankfully, afternoon downtime means being able to sit with the cats and socialize with them in the sunny catios (patios for cats!). As soon as I find a chair in a sunbeam, the cats swarm around me – a couple will play king of the hill for my lap, one will wrestle with my shoelaces, and others will weave between the chair legs. It’s an intriguing dynamic, and it’s even more interesting when the turkeys show up to eat all the treats that have fallen outside of the gates. It was a long time volunteer’s birthday yesterday, and a piñata stuffed with kibble was hung in one of the catios for her to bash open. Treats went everywhere, and eventually there is too much of a good thing.

Once everyone calmed down, the turkeys showed up – a whole gang of big males – to help with the mess. As they silently picked their way closer and closer to the cages, the cats watched with serious determination. Then, one by one, they lunged at the turkeys, scaring them into a flapping frenzy. Yet the turkeys recovered and persevered, continuing on down the line of catteries until every last treat was pecked up. The lunging and scaring happened multiple times, but I think they knew there was nothing the little furballs could do; they were about 1/3 the size of these birds. After all of that excitement, it was time for the 5th nap of the day, and beds were filled with dozing purrs.

BFAS - Murray

I can’t walk into room 2 without Murray loudly proclaiming that he wants attention. He is quite the talker, and would probably type in all caps if he knew how to use a keyboard. As I move around his enclosure, he’ll find a perch to reach my shoulder and ride along, purring into my neck and hair (and he gives a not-so-professional-but-free massage…with claws). He’s FeLV‬+ and just about the happiest little orange ‪‎cat‬ one could hope to meet. Murray celebrated his first birthday this month, which can be a big milestone when they’re diagnosed with FeLV so young. Here’s to many more!

Murray’s profile:


It’s been about 5 years since I tried this. Let’s start over.

Hi, my name is Lys. I’m just over my quarter-life hump, and sailing through the crisis that accompanies that. To cope, I’m finally pursuing my dream to work with animals. In The Southern Part of Nowhere, Utah. The great thing about it is that I’m not alone. I have found my people, and the animals that I’ve always wanted to surround myself with. This will be a short journal to keep track of my journey, and hopefully to my lifelong career. I’ll get to some background later, if at all, so here’s the present:


Day 2 of my internship at Best Friends’ Animal Society – Casa De Calmar‬ / Cat World: I made friends with Bo the handsome tomcat‬. This guy has such a great face, like he could tell the best stories. He’s a big boy with a gentle heart, and he softly pads behind me, waiting for me to sit so he can get a lap to curl up on. Though he’s intimidating in size, he is friendly with all the other cats – even grooming them when they allow – and moves calmly regardless of what’s going on around him. He’s FeLV‬+ and absolutely loving life (though a forever home would be even better!). Casa De Calmar houses about 50 cats that have tested positive for FeLV, or Feline Leukemia Virus. FeLV can cause anemia and lymphoma among other serious illnesses. The virus can also suppress the cats’ immune system, affecting their ability to fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi which contribute to other serious health problems. The average lifespan of a cat with FeLV is around 4 years, though they can live longer depending on when they became infected. It is transferrable through saliva (sharing food/water bowls, bites and scratches), shared litter boxes, and from mother to kittens in utero/during feeding. There is no cure for this disease, so quality of life is very important.

Bo’s adoption profile: