Adventures with Debra and Robert

Behind the Scenes

TBI, My Furbabies and Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab Utah

Photo of Debra at Best Friends Animal Society

This week has been a challenging week. Not only because I had a major TBI episode and was in bed for the better part of 3 days, but it is the anniversary month that I lost my sweet Nonnikins. It is hard to believe she has been gone a year already. It seems like yesterday all three of my furbabies were right by my side – living, loving and filling up my life. Each one of their birthdays and the anniversaries of their transitions brings back in waves the grief for all three. The grief this week was too raw and  too hard to explain so I haven’t talked about it much. For those who don’t know, I’ll give a brief explanation and then explain how that ties in to my recent videos on the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

One year ago I lost my Nonni. A few months before that my Bentley. And yet a few months before that their sister kitty, Miss Hope, also died (05.01.01-08.18.16). She lived her last three years with my bestie Connie in Texas, and was given so much love and care! Miss Hope was my first of the three, and the first of the three to go. After 12 years it was hard to leave her behind but she would have been miserable on the road and in a van. Plus it would have been unsafe for her. I did what I had to do and still can’t reconcile it to this day. I am grateful for the loving home and life she had with Connie.

Photo of Miss Hope Debra's Kitty

I was traveling with my friend Suanne when Bentley died (10.02.02-03.30.17). He died in the middle of the night with me by his side in New Mexico. He was in his navigator seat, curled up in his bed. The passenger seat was his throne. He too was 15. He was my 2nd of the three and the 2nd to go. Still, I was not ready. I’m still not. I honestly find it hard to breathe sometimes when I feel the grief. Here is his tribute video.

Photo of Bentley in Front Seat

That is when I turn to the poem by Henry Scott-Holland (1847-1918), “Death Is Nothing At All.” It allows me to take another breath and carry on. Thank you to my friend Regina for sending it to me. KOKO!

Photo of the Poem, Death is Nothing At All

Next I lost my sweet Nonnikins, on a Sunday (09.04.05-10.21.17). It was one year ago last week. I didn’t make any announcements or say anything. I just couldn’t deal with the rawness publicly. I was camped with Robert in Arizona when Nonni died. She had a stroke and Robert drove us down the mountain to the vet. My baby girl died in the van, stretched out on the bed – her favorite place to be, with me by her side. The 3rd of the 3 to land in my heart, and the 3rd to go. You can watch her tribute video (here). My life has not been the same since.

Photo of Nonni in Bed

I am grateful for the lives they had. I am grateful for the life they gave me. I am grateful for the ease around their transitions, and that they knew love right through their last breath. All I have left are their memories, and their example to live by …

– Give all of your heart every day
– Be present in every moment
– Forgive previous moments and be only love no matter what
– Greet love with an open heart and a smile on your face
– Be mindful and present for those who need you

I had to tour the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. For them. For the four of us. It was surreal being there without them. The videos have been hard for me to edit and create. Each one has taken me hours and hours, days.

1 – Bucket List Success. Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab Utah-Pigs Goats Horses. (Watch, S2.E61)

2 – Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab Utah-Cats & Grand Tour. (Watch, S2.E62)

The 3rd video in the Best Friends series was supposed to be Dog Town followed by a guided tour through the canyon. It did not happen. The hike got rained out plus I just didn’t have the heart to go see the dogs at Best Friends. I just couldn’t. So, I headed to Robert early. It was a good decision. I belong with him. My heart is always with him. I needed him. So the next few videos will look something like this …

3 – Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab Utah – Angels Rest S2.E63
(It will be the most special of the 3 videos for me, and the hardest yet to edit. Please stay tuned and be sure to watch it.)

4 – I Cross 5 State Lines to Get to Robert S2.E64

I will add the links for these videos when they are published. After these 4 videos, I get back to daily vlogs on my channel. Right now, I’m stuck. I’m stuck in dealing with this grief. I feel stuck in dealing with my TBI symptoms. And I’m definitely stuck in getting these videos edited. But I have to. I can’t bypass them. The story is important, at least to me. Thank you for your patience as I work through all of this.

And here’s what I want you to know about Best Friends Animal Society. First off, go there! I promise you will not be disappointed. In fact, make it a vacation destination. Here are the Top Reasons to Visit Best Friends, an animal rescue sanctuary. In addition to those top reasons, they have all kinds of tours. The Grand Sanctuary Tour is actually a Grand Tour of the entire Sanctuary. I found that to be a little confusing. If that is the only thing you are going to have time to do, that is great. But the individual tours are what I found to be most heartwarming. Note: You do not need to do the Grand Tour first. Some might find that helpful, but my recommendation is this…

The Grand Sanctuary Tours are seven days a week, except Christmas day and they have four tours a day (8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.)

They also have 10 specialty and animal area tours. I recommend you make your reservation for those first and then book your Grand Tour around that because the specialty and animal area tours are not offered every day. Go (here) to book your tours.

You can stay at the sanctuary. They have cottages, cabins and RV sites. You can make your lodging reservation (here).

You can volunteer to help at the Sanctuary or with any of their regional and national events, or network partners. Register to be a volunteer (here).

You can donate (here). Please consider giving a $25 gift membership to Best Friends Animal Society to your family and friends.

And, perhaps most importantly, you can adopt a pet (here).

Best Friends has a wonderful goal to make all shelters no-kill facilities by 2025.

They have already helped accomplish that in Los Angeles. The city known as the city of angels went no-kill in 2017, and the entire state of Utah has committed to be no-kill in 2019. Best Friends will accomplish this nationwide through a variety of measures. You can read more about their campaign, No-Kill Nationwide by 2025, on their website (here).

Best Friends sponsors the Strut Your Mutt events. They absorb all the cost and the dollars raised go to shelters and foundations to help save lives and raise awareness. This event currently takes place in over 14 cities and helps at least 300 partners.

Right now in this country there are 5,500 animals killed in shelters DAILY. That’s about two millions lives each YEAR that Best Friends is committed to saving.

Best Friends was created 34 years ago by 31 friends who bought 37,000 acres “located in a red rock canyon near Kanab, Utah, at the heart of the Golden Circle of national parks, which include Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon. The locale of the sanctuary is a sacred place that was once home to ancient peoples of the Southwest. The founders knew they had discovered something very rare and special in what has become known as Angel Canyon. Visitors to the Sanctuary feel the healing effects of the animals and the canyon and a connection to something very powerful.”

Here are some facts that fascinated me during my time at Best Friends (in addition to what I share in my 3 videos listed above). Please visit this magical place and discover for yourself how truly beautiful saving lives can be.

More Fun Facts and Figures. Best Friends …

– Currently has approximately 40 horses.
– Adopted out 31 pot belly pigs last year.
– Has approximately 120 Parrots and 110 pigeons
– Has about 1600 animals in all.
– Has 7 vets on staff and approximately 30 vet techs
– Works with 2500 partners nationwide
– Sponsors Super Adoption Events nationwide
– Offers a week long seminar and training on “How To Run An Animal Sanctuary
– Offers Dog Behavior and Handling Workshops
– Their Village Cafe is near the bunny house and offers a $5 all you can eat vegetarian buffet
– Is building a new Horse Haven and a new Wildlife building
– Rehabs approximately 300 local wildlife each year, with about a dozen staying in residency
– To get their puppies ready for adoption, they take them through noise training exercises (vacuums, microwaves, doors shutting, etc)
– Has a Visitor Center in the heart of Kanab
– One of the founders, Cyrus Mejia, has an art gallery in Kanab, Raven’s Heart
– You can bury your pets or their ashes at Angels Overlook, or contribute a wind chime (in 3 different sizes) that has a dedication plaque and picture of your furbaby (S2.E63, not yet published)
– The original Angels Rest is closed because it is land locked and ran out of room in 2009
– Best Friends has a blog and a magazine.

So there you have it. One of my favorite places on earth. It is magical and spiritual. I will go back one day and place a wind chime for each of my furbabies. I just have to. It will do my heart good.

May every furry family member rest in peace, and may we SAVE THEM ALL. KOKO!



    “There is one best place to bury a dog.
    “If you bury him in this spot, he will
    come to you when you call – come to you
    over the grim, dim frontier of death,
    and down the well-remembered path,
    and to your side again.

    “And though you call a dozen living
    dogs to heel, they shall not growl at
    him, nor resent his coming,
    for he belongs there.

    “People may scoff at you, who see
    no lightest blade of grass bent by his
    footfall, who hear no whimper, people
    who may never really have had a dog.
    Smile at them, for you shall know
    something that is hidden from them,
    and which is well worth the knowing.

    “The one best place to bury a good
    dog is in the heart of his master.”

    — Ben Hur Lampman —

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