Tag Archives: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Giving up Ego for the Holidays

Dog Nativity pic borrowed from Tamara Dormer's facebook profile : )

Happy Holidays everyone! I can’t believe it has been two months since I last blogged but a lot has been going on. I guess I’ll just start where I left off at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. Despite it being an amazing learning experience and forming great relationships with the other trainers and the dogs out there they didn’t choose me for a Dog Trainer position. I am really disappointed on a professional level, but on a personal level I feel relieved. I would’ve loved to work with the amazing people at best friends but my fiance wouldn’t have been able to move out there for a while, if at all- there aren’t exactly a ton of archiving jobs in the middle of Utah. I hope to be doing some work with them locally with their Community Training Partners Program and have kept in touch with the trainers Pat, Jen, and Tamara since I got back to New York. It’s tough on the old ego but I think it’s for the best. Looks like the dogs I worked with are continuing to make progress. I spoke to pat the other day on the phone and he said Sir Uno is running around like a puppy playing which is huge. There’s some footage here. Firefly has continued to make progress with her dedicated caregivers/ trainers and was adopted! More here. So the good work is still being done and I’m getting to do work locally helping out with Pets for Life/ Safety Net Program and volunteering regularly at Sean Casey Animal Rescue in addition to training pet dogs in Brooklyn.

A week after I returned to Brooklyn I moved in with my fiance. Perhaps the old Higher Power knows what he’s doing. Had I gotten the job in Utah I would’ve had to postpone moving in and getting married and those are two things I’m glad I didn’t have to give up. They say “Rejection is God’s Protection” and perhaps our relationship wouldn’t have weathered the whole Utah Brooklyn separation well. Moving in has been great but its also been a trip since both of us have lived alone for the past ten years. So far we and the cats are getting along with minimal hissing. We’re starting to plan our wedding for Memorial Day weekend 2011. Hopefully also with minimal hissing.

On the writing front I’ve decided to stop blogging for BOMB after a year and a half to focus on my own writing, getting married, and doing more work with animal shelters. I love poetry and writing but ultimately my priorities are spiritual- the relationships in my life and being of service to the community with my skills. Creativity is important but at the end of my days I think I’ll be more concerned with how much I loved and helped people and not how much I published. I think the publishing thing is just ego. Ultimately it’s the being creative that makes me feel good, publishing anything only gives short term satisfaction.

Its funny how I let my ideas of what I think my life should be or look like effect my happiness in life. My life looks nothing like what I thought it would years or even months ago. When I can let go of my ego and ideas and accept that maybe I don’t know what will ultimately give me lasting satisfaction and be grateful and accepting of the blessings that I have today, only then can I really be happy.

Phoebe photo by Dennis Riley

For today I’m grateful that:

I get to have a sleepover party with my pal Phoebe.

I have awesome people and animals in my life and we’re all healthy.

I took Christmas weekend off work and am going to see Peewee Herman on Broadway.

It really doesn’t get much better than that!

Happy Holidays!


Leave a comment

Filed under dog training, Dogs, God, Spirituality, Writing

Brooklyn Girl goes to Utah


Kanab, Utah local scenery


Last Saturday afternoon I left my crazy noisy home city of Brooklyn, New York and flew to Las Vegas en route to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. After weaving through slot machines in the airport, I found my bag and took the hotel shuttle to a Comfort Inn near the airport. The next morning bright and early, I headed to the rental car place and picked up my reasonably priced rental car (only $369 for two weeks- clearly not New York prices!) and drove the 3.5 hours to Kanab, Utah. A few minutes outside of Vegas it was all red hills and fields. I prayed I wouldn’t get a flat tire and kept driving. Eventually, I landed in downtown Kanab which is a cute little western town of about 4,000. It sort of reminds me of a more western version of upstate NY towns like Saugerties or Woodstock. They have most of what you need here a few hotels, restaurants, movie theater, grocery stores, etc but you definitely see a lot of UPS and Fed Ex trucks going up the main roads with people ordering online what they can’t get here. There are larger towns like Page, Arizona and St. George, Utah and hour to and hour and a half away where you can get more amenities. I found the house of a Best Friends employee I’d be renting a room from and met her animal brood.


Marcel and Maverick


There’s the two dogs Marcel and Maverick who are both rescue sweethearts. She also had three cats the most remarkable of which is Pepito a cat who was born without eyes but gets around like a champ.


Viva Pepito!


After dropping my stuff off, I explored downtown and got lunch at Nedra’s Too, a delicious Mexican American restaurant. Then I checked out the Frontier Movie Town a free museum of Western movie sets. More than 100 movies have been shot in the area from The Outlaw Josie Wales to the original Lone Ranger. Because of all the filming here, Kanab is also called Little Hollywood.

Best Friends Welcome Center

Monday morning I headed to the Sanctuary and took a tour, then spent a bunch of time at Human Resources. I was struck by how huge the sanctuary is and how many animals and employees they have.


Cat Land

A small part of Cat Land


Finally I got to go to Dog Town and work with trainers and dogs. I learned how they do their behavior assessments.




Sir Uno

Tuesday in addition to staff meetings I got to work with the shy dog Sir Uno who has a history of physical abuse (his owners were hitting him with a cane on his way into the sanctuary when they dropped him off.) He pretty much stays away from people or just sits in the corner of his run and watches you. He shrinks from touch but eventually I got him to take some treats from me. He hadn’t been out on a walk and needed to get used to a leash so I clipped one on him. I tried to urge him to walk with me into the back of his run but he just laid there. So I opened the front door and he started to move so we walked into the hall and out the front door. He walked a few steps would get scared and lie down and then would muster up the courage to walk again. We kept the walk short and came back inside in about 10 minutes. The staff was amazed I was able to get him out. We’ve done a few more short walks like this this week. Now he gets up whenever we come near the door or open it wanting to follow us out, which is a good sign.




Another dog I worked with is Firefly who is an 11 year old pointer from a breeding kennel. She had a lot of health problems that have been treated for months. Heartworm, hookworm, bad teeth, and infections all over her front legs from living in her own filth. She’s a high energy girl who hasn’t been able to get much exercise due to her health problems. When she overexerts she begins coughing and we have to let her rest. Since she’s a high energy girl with no outlet she’s redirected her energy with a fixation on her front legs licking them bloody and bald. She has to wear a cone all the time so she won’t do this. In addition to getting her physically healthy we’re working on trying to get her mentally stimulated with short walks, obedience training, and feeding her with food toys so she has to work to get her food and thus drain her energy. She’s a fighter and a great spirit who I enjoy working with. Firefly is part of Best Friends Guardian Angel Program and you can follow her progress here.

With 400 or so dogs at the sanctuary, I worked with a few more who I’ll write about later but Marcel and Maverick want to go out for a walk and I’m petsitting while their owner is at the No More Homeless Pets conference in Vegas this weekend. More soon!

Leave a comment

Filed under dog training, Dogs, Travel

Best Friends Strut Your Mutt NYC 2010

Best Friends Trainer Pat Whitacre and me

What could possibly get me out of bed on a Sunday morning at 6:30 am? Only the love of dogs! Sunday September 26th I participated in Best Friends Animal Society’s Strut Your Mutt NYC 2010 to raise money to help homeless pets. A crappy deli cup of coffee, a stale croissant, and a train ride led me to the Hudson River Park pier near 42nd Street. A group of dog lovers had descended on the pier. People milled about crowded booths registering and some did doggie yoga with an instructor near the stage. I joined up with the Best Friends dog pack to walk with dog trainer Pat Whitacre and friends (Sherry Woodard had missed her flight oops!) I raised nearly $800 dollars (thanks donors!) and the event raised approximately $130,000 for network organizations that will help bring New York City to a time of No More Homeless Pets. In addition to meeting many animal loving participants, I also met the Rescue Ink guys and Caroline Manzo from the  Real Housewives of New Jersey who were all very nice.

Rescue Ink and me

Real Housewives of NJ Caroline Manzo and me

In a few weeks I’m headed out to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah to work for two weeks. Despite the crazy logistics of my life in Brooklyn at the moment, I can’t wait to get out there and put my dog training skills to use to help this great organization!

Leave a comment

Filed under dog training, Dogs

Summer summary 2010

This has been a crazy travel summer since I got engaged. In August alone we went to Chicago and Peoria, Long Beach Island, New Jersey, and Saugerties. I took some time off from writing and blogging, but now it’s September–the dogs are raining down upon me and its back to work. Here’s a summary of the summer.


At the end of July beginning of August we went to Chicago to visit, well, Chicago. From there we rented a car and drove through the flat cornfields to Peoria to visit my Grandma for a day. In Chicago we stayed at the Wicker Park Inn which was in a good location but not the greatest bed and breakfast. All the rooms opened out onto the breakfast area so at 7 am every morning we were woke up to the sounds of coffee being made etc. Not to mention the breakfast was pretty much cereal and crappy pastries. And they didn’t wash our towels the majority of the time we were there and we even ran out of toilet paper even though a cleaning person was coming by everyday. I digress, but really cereal does not a bed and breakfast make. However the neighborhood was great full of vintage shops and record stores and we happened to be there the  Wicker Park Music Fest. The best part was Cap’n Jazz had recently reunited and was playing the fest. We were lucky enough to escape the crowd by going upstairs in Myopic Books and watching from the window (we bought books!).

Cap'n Jazz!

In addition to the art museum and aquarium, the other awesome thing about Chicago was the food! Holy crap we ate well! We ate a Rick Bayless’ restaurant Frontera Grill. Mexican Food so good it will melt your face off. Despite a questionable name, Crust, was a great organic pizza place. Another highlight was the incredible though expensive deserts at Hot Chocolate. But the funny thing we got into was getting Coke Slurpee’s at the 7-11. Classy!

Long Beach Island, New Jersey

My fiance’s family has rented a house on Long Beach Island pretty much every summer since he was a kid so we headed out to visit them for the weekend. It was really nice being out at the beach, however, beaches up north are considerably different from the beaches I grew up near in Florida. For one thing the water is cold in August! Also the tides were so crazy while we were there the lifeguards said we could only go in up to our knees. So we mainly walked around and ate ice cream at the many ice cream places on the island. Long Beach Island is very family oriented, many family’s had 3 or 4 kids. I don’t know how people do it. I can barely deal with myself and my cat much less tons of kids, but unlike Brooklyn where the kids run wild, the parents on Long Beach Island weren’t having it. They kept them in line which restored my faith in the parenting business. The last day when we were driving back we stopped in Seaside Heights to check it out since a lot of people had told me it was like Coney Island. Perhaps Coney Island back in the 70’s during the time the shot the Warriors. While the pizza and custard we ingested was pretty good never have I felt more like I needed to bathe in disinfectant.


My fiance, Dennis, had to work so he couldn’t come up with me for the whole week in Saugerties. So I borrowed one of my clients dogs Phoebe and went up on my own. It was fine except its pretty dark in the country at night ya’ll. Hardly any streetlights or neighbors had me playing through every horror movie I ever saw. Thank God for Phoebe!

Phoebe wants to bite the "big dogs" next door

Saugerties how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

1-Miss Lucy’s Kitchen where the Jerk Chicken and Banana Chutney sandwich blew my mind as did the Peach Blueberry Crumble I had for desert.

2-Is for Lucky Chocolates across the street where you can get any of their awesome chocolates mixed with ice cream.

3- Is for the amazing Pistachio Chicken, Vegetable Crepes, and Grape Leaves at Fez Restaurant.

4- Is for all the antique and second hand shops downtown.

5- Is for the Lighthouse.

My pal Phoebe in front of the Lighthouse

6- Is for its proximity to the Hudson River and the Catskills, Woodstock, and Phoenicia. Not to mention Kingston, Rosendale, and New Paltz.

I love it up there and would love to have a country cottage there I could go to to escape the city now and again. Dennis wound up being able to come up for a few days (thank god- the dark nights were getting to me!) We had a great time at all of the above and we went tubing in Phoenecia on the Esopus which was ridiculous. We were either getting stuck on rocks cause the water was low in some places or getting dumped over and bruising ourselves on rocks from the occasional rapids. Delirious we wandered to the country store on the main street. Here’s us post tubing:

Post tubing crazies!

I came back to the city and had a meltdown about living here instead of some place that had more nature. Sometimes I feel too old for the constant assault on the senses in the city. This article in the Onion pretty much sums it up.  I love a lot of people and animals here but I’m tired. Coincidentally Best Friends Animal Sanctuary contacted me about a phone interview for a dog trainer position out in Utah. This would be my dream job however my fiance is going back to school this year and couldn’t come with me if they offered it to me. Not sure what’s coming down the pike for us. But it’ll definitely be interesting! Gotta go study for my CPDT exam I’m taking in a few weeks and walk many dogs. Trying to take it one day at a time, more will be revealed.


Filed under Dogs, Food, Music, Travel