Let it snow...

...which it did in Utah where I was this week.

I just returned from a return engagement at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Temperatures ranged from 17-24 degrees. Can you spell cold? I wore all the layers I had and I could still see my breath even while sitting in the car! And yet, it is funny that it feels colder here in our house in San Diego. I really think that houses built in Southern California are not as well insulated and hence, it feels chilled inside even though it is warmer outside. Whereas when I travel to colder climates, it is colder outside but I never feel chilled when I am indoors. Go figure.
Oh, and this week I learned that Christmas carols are accurate --- snow does glisten! I haven't been in snow since childhood and I don't recall really appreciating snow as a bundled-up little tyke trudging along. The skies were clear and bright and the sun shone on the snow and I could see how it glistened. Quite lovely.

Best Friends is moving the Animals and Religion Network forward and Rev. Dr. Mitzi Lynton and I were invited to fly back to Kanab to meet with Paul Berry, the CEO to discuss and brainstorm ideas for the 2008 campaign and beyond. On Wednesday, we flew into Las Vegas and then rented a car to drive to Kanab for the evening. I happily held Chloe on my lap for the four hour trip. The next day after our confab, we were fortunate to sit in on the weekly lunch meeting where the founder, Michael Mountain talks to the employees in the cafeteria ( a full vegan lunch is prepared and available to purchase). Michael shares the latest on animal news and quips -- including the wonderful news that you’ve probably been seeing on the national news all week, 22 of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s home when he was arrested will be coming to Best Friends. A small Best Friends team is at the shelter in Virginia, getting to know the dogs so they’re comfortable on their long ride out to the sanctuary. Meanwhile, at the sanctuary, the team is busy getting their accommodations ready. It was so inspiring to listen to two of the dog handlers talk about the dogs' state of mind and the hopes and plans for their ultimate adoption into family homes. I was quite moved by the compassion that filled the room. Everyone there has a deep love and compassion for animals to begin with but this case struck so many chords. In fact, it was at the time that Vick was first arrested in July, that the Animals and Religion clergy summit took place. So, we too, felt a strong connection to this positive resolution to a difficult situation.

While at the BF Sanctuary, I had the bonus and blessing of getting to meet Ruby and Dixie, the two kidz that Don and I sponsored in honor of our wedding guests. Don and I wanted to give a different kind of wedding favor, so we decided to sponsor two animals living at the Best Friends sanctuary. We personally selected Ruby and Dixie for very specific reasons (that we didn't really get to explain at the wedding). Ruby is a beautiful black cat that is almost identical to Shady, Don's beloved companion who passed away almost three years ago. I chose the dog named Dixie in my mother's honor. When we chose these two angels, it was not on the horizon that I would get to meet them! This business trip to Kanab was not on the calendar back in November. Yet, after our business meeting, Mitzi and I found that we had a few hours to ourselves and we went looking for them.

Best Friends occupies 3,000 acres so it is no small task to track down specific animals. First, we drove to Cat Town and stopped into the Kitty Motel and the staff located Ruby for us at Casa de Kamar. Ruby is a special needs cat who has FLV (feline leukemia) and has to be isolated with other FLV cats because it is a species specific disease. Ruby is even more beautiful than her online photo and quite the sweetheart. I can't begin to describe how my heart expanded to meet her. I explained to the handler, Michelle how Don and I came to choose Ruby and she thanked us for sponsoring Ruby's care. Michelle told me that we could indeed send mail to Ruby and she promised to read it to her. When I get some of our wedding photos printed, I will send it to Ruby so it can be pinned on the bulletin board and Ruby will know she is being loved and supported.

Next, we found our way to DogTown and the Petey House where Dixie lives. Dixie is a beautiful young pit-bull mix who is one big lovebug. I was tickled to see she had a reddish coat (my mom was a redhead, too) and a big smile. The only thing that made it hard to love on her was her new roommate, Vega who is an even bigger love hound. He was the kind of big galoot that won't let you alone and does everything he can to convince you that you really only want to spend time with him. The handler had to keep pulling Vega away from kissing me so I could spend some quality time with Dixie. I had trouble resisting them both. So sweet and so playful. As Vega rolled over on his back to prove his adorability, Mitzi took some photos of Dixie with me that I hope to publish later on. We were impressed at the wonderful space these dogs had--including heated cement floors! Mitzi and I thought maybe we could get warmer by sitting on the floor with them.

It is hard to describe what it meant for me to be with these animals. I love visiting and playing (and praying) with all the animals I meet at Best Friends, but to meet these two that Spirit directed us to sponsor was such a sweet gift. I feel even more connected to them than before and will be able to embellish my prayers for them from afar after having held and kissed them.
Most people don't get that option to do that with their sponsor animals--or with any of Sally Struther's kids, I bet.

I was invited to stay longer in Kanab and share the Christmas party on Saturday, but I really wanted to get home. After all, I got married only three Fridays ago and scientific studies say that you make or break a habit in 21 days-- and I really wanted to be in San Diego with my husband and our girl, Belle and make being a family a lifelong habit.

Now that I am home, I can get my bearings anew and begin to ready myself for Christmas. Rumour has it that there are only 11 more days.

I say, let it snow.

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