At last! Time to volunteer. We signed up for three shifts, the afternoon of arrival and both shifts the following day and planned as well to do sleepovers both nights. As it turned out, knowing we wouldn’t be able to check into our hotel in Las Vegas for the final leg of the trip until late in the afternoon I was able to grab one last shift on Sunday morning, which became yet another highlight of the trip.
After lunch, we drove to Dogtown headquarters in time for our first volunteer shift.
Since we were first time volunteers there, were offered three different “octagon” areas of Dogtown Heights; The Fairway, The Garden or Old Friends. Puppies? No thanks. Young adults? Eh, we’ll pass. Older but bolder? Yes! Old Friends was definitely an area we wanted to be in so we proceeded to the octagon buildings named Homer and Dolores after some very generous donors and after meeting the two dog caretakers there, set off walking some pooches and doing some general tasks in between.
There are set paths outside of Old Friends and the dogs definitely know their way around. There’s a junction and you can take the shortest, the longest or the one in between but all are pretty clearly marked and trod, so you won’t loose your way. When you return, you wait outside until the caretakers see you and they retrieve the dog from you and bring you another one. It’s pretty simple and relatively taken for granted that making sure each dog is walked is the first priority. All dogs in this area are “green collars” and for the most part really easy to walk.
Upon arrival at Dogtown Headquarters on Saturday morning, I requested Conrad and Leopold’s in Old Dogtown because I especially wanted to meet one of the dog caregivers in that area. Old Dogtown differs from Dogtown Heights in that it’s larger and also older. In Dogtown Heights there are actually 4 octagon areas consisting of two octagons each. The three listed previously house all “green collar” dogs-the dogs who can be handled by anyone. In Old Dogtown, there are purple collars which can be handled by anyone over 18 and red collars which are staff -only in addition to green collars. Conrad and Leopold’s was a total blast! Not only did we get to take dogs on regular trail walks but we got to take Sydney to Tara’s Run which you might recognize from the Dogtown Series as the training facility and we got to help with a training walk. This area was not only hands on but just more challenging in the best possible way. I loved it!
This was also spent in Old Dogtown in the octagons called “3 and 4” though they actually had real names as well. Hermosa’s Hideaway was one name but the other escapes me. For this shift, Kevin decided he would rather do an “outing” so he and Bolt went back to the Cottage to hang and chill. Bolt is a tripod and you almost want to say “thank goodness.” If Bolt had four legs there might not be a human who could keep up with him.
This area was similar in that the caregivers brought me a dog to walk on the trails with after giving me the run-down on any particulars or triggers. Upon completing the walk we would wait on a bench within view to have the dog retrieved. This area seemed pretty busy and I didn’t walk too many dogs, but I did get to see a “celebrity.”
Meryl was one of the (only) two Vick dogs court ordered to live out their lives at Best Friends; Lucas was the other one. Today rather than be a victim of her past and circumstances, Meryl shares a run with another dog, Buddy Arnold. Meryl will remain at the Sanctuary not because she is dangerous, but for her own protection as her value as a “trophy” is still thought to be very high.
Scheduled to leave that morning, I convinced Kevin that I really needed to take one more shift and he agreed to finish the packing, loading and checking out while I worked. Boy was it worth it. I asked for and was assigned “The Clubhouse.” Although The Clubhouse is in Dogtown Heights, it is run and feels more like Old Dogtown in that there are red, purple and green collar dogs. I met the caregiver outside and we chatted about what the needs would be for the morning. Breakfast had been fed, so bowls needed to be washed, dogs needed to be walked and Sunday was deep clean day at Amra, one of the two octagons. I mentioned that I had requested The Clubhouse knowing that Mya and Curly were there and the caregiver worked an interaction into our schedule. That morning after washing breakfast dishes, I walked a few dogs and this time actually accompanied the caregiver into the runs to collect my walking buddy. Upon returning, it was again to a waiting bench, but this time waiting was minimal. We swept and mopped kennels and then finally I got my chance to see Mya and Curly up close and personal. Well, as up close and personal as was possible with them. I’ll tell you more about it later this week, so be sure to stop back.
Things I was pleased to have: comfy jeans and wellies! The terrain is very sandy and a bit hilly, so comfortable (close toe) footwear is a must. Since I knew the temps would vary from the 30’s to the 50’s I was happy to have my boots. Good traction and sand resistance was a must. Layering the tops with a lightweight jacket was a good idea as well. One of the things I forgot, much to my chagrin, is that I forgot to activate my Walk for a Dog app. I’m sure I racked up some serious mileage because I actually was able to pull a pair of jeans off without undoing them by the end of the week. WOOT!