As many readers here are already familiar with Best Friends, it won’t come as a surprise that while staying and volunteering we also brought home a sleepover guest each night. As you can probably imagine, this was yet another area that we planned for but also were not 100% sure how it worked, so let me share a bit about the experience.
Before we left, the hubby and I poured over pictures of the beautiful dogs that we might want to bring for a sleepover but without knowing which octagon they were at or how this all worked, we just tried to keep a mental list of those we may have wanted to “meet.” Basically, you do need to volunteer in your animal’s area, so if you are volunteering in dogs you can’t take a bunny home for a sleepover etc. Caregivers pretty much assume you’ll want to do a sleepover and are very excited to get their fur friends out of the kennels for a night. There’s usually a list in the octagon regarding who is eligible to go, who has recently gone, what activities are allowed, ect. For instance, we were considering taking Tig one night but although he can do sleepovers, he can’t stay in the cottages near the horses, so he was not an option. We later also discovered that Dogtown HQ has a list of which dogs really need to do an overnight for whatever reason. For instance, just as we were meeting Roxanne,
she was snatched right out from under us we learned that she already had a sleepover date scheduled. Roxanne was at the “top of the list” to go so it was awesome that she not only got to do a sleepover, we found the the next day she got to go on an outing as well. Too cool.
So anyhow, the first sleepover guest was almost a no-brainer. Lester and Michael were top contenders but in actuality, the moment Kevin saw Magnolia, he said “my wife is gonna love her.”
He was right. Sleepover dogs need to be “checked out” from the Dogtown HQ by 3:30 so don’t sweat that a volunteer shift lasts till 4:00. It’s part of the process. Once we decided on a dog, we went to HQ and received a sleepover bag of provisions and a questionnaire to fill out regarding how the sleepover went. The staff in the octagon also gave us an extra blanket, a coat and in Magnolia’s case, some meds she needed to take along with a can of moist food.
Magnolia is an old soul in a young body. She loves going for walks and never seems to tire of them but in the cottage she was all about deathing stuffies which I happily handed over and cleaned up one by one.
Being the pro that she is she also knew that the expectation is that all treats packed by the staff in the sleepover bag must be enjoyed and not returned, so again we were happy to oblige.
Although I invited her onto the bed a few times she quickly jumped back down and at bedtime settled on the sofa for the evening. Knowing the sleepover is all about the guest, we left her to her preferred sleeping arrangements and wished her a snug goodnight.
Dogs are returned between 8:00 and 8:15 in the morning so when we pulled up to Old Friends, Magnolia who had been eager to be in the car, seemed disinclined to depart, so we took a quick walk while Kevin waited for the caretakers to meet him and collect her.
Sleepover night two went very similarly to night one in that one of us fell in love with a dog right away. Surprisingly it was Kevin who fell and fell hard for Sidney (Side note: if you too fall in love with Sidney but don’t live near Utah, a generous sponsor has prepaid her airfare to get “home.”) but like a kid in a candy shop who knew that of the hundreds of candies on display, only one could be taken, I couldn’t make up my mind. In the end, it was the snuggle factor that won me over. Going for a week without a dog to snuggle at night was way to long and though I respected Magnolia’s need for space, I really needed to bring home a “proven snuggler.”
Sidney who rocked the agility equipment in Tara’s Run and seemed so happy to take long hikes and explore was just as happy to “turn it off” and snuggle in the calm of the cottage. The way both Sidney and Magnolia collapsed onto the sofa reminded me of something Corbin’s mama said about when their fosters really settle in for that deep, safe sleep. These dogs are sleepover pros and although their housing situation is pretty posh for a kennel, it is still a kennel and you can really tell that they know: when we go on a sleepover we can totally decompress and just relax.
Sidney and I slept cuddled together (the cottages boast two double beds!) all night and on the occasion that I woke momentarily, she was happy to accept a brief pat or an ear scritch. It was heavenly for both of us. We all woke early the next morning and Kevin and I suddenly just didn’t want to take her back. We just agonized over the inevitable and Sidney seemed to recognize our emotions and played to them.
We anthropomorphized all morning about how miserable she must be to go back but actually upon arriving back at her octagon, Sid jumped out of the car and into her waiting caretaker’s arms with an almost palpable air of “Oooh! Breakfast!” (Someone whose name rhymes with Shmevin may have gotten a bit emotional over the course of the morning while I remained a rock. Or maybe I didn’t.)
Overall, if you enjoy the companionship of a dog (or cat or bunny) I heartily recommend doing a sleepover when you visit Best Friends. It gives the animals a break from their routines, gives the caretakers a bit of insight on how the animals react to various situations and it gives you someone to love on while your own furbaby is at home. Win-win-win.