I’ve never had a huge desire to visit California. When an opportunity arose, through work, I jumped on it and started packing my bags. If you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel (Wilde Child Travels), then you’ve seen most of my adventure West. What I love about this blog is that I can share some memories that weren’t in the video!
Although I’ve very allergic to dogs, I love them. It’s as simple as that. Dogs are wonderful creatures and I love how silly and cute they are. I work for a dog-centric company and I was tapped for a volunteer trip to California. We were going to have 5 days working with rescues for senior dogs, who were having a hard time finding homes, and reactive dogs with histories of biting and aggression.
The first rescue we worked with was Save Them Dogs in Palmdale, California. Our goal at this location was to build a fence for a new training yard. As soon as we all got off the plane, had some food, and drove just outside of Los Angeles, we were put to work clearing the space for the new yard.
This project was going to take a few days, and we had other rescues in the are to visit, so we did as much as we could on the first day. This training yard was going to be an important element to this unique dog haven. It was going to give dogs marked as aggressive and “violent” a space to have one-on-one training with the experts at the rescue. It’s a more calming environment that would cut down on an distractions while the dogs are being trained, and the pup and trainer can get some peace and quite from the noisy kennels.
I was so happy to help with this project. I’ve written several articles with tips on how to best train a dog, and cutting down on distractions is a high priority. You want the dog to focus on you, and you want to be able to solely focus on the dog as well. I completely understood the need for this space and was glad I could participate to make it happen!
I’d never been to California before, so I completely underestimated the dry desert air and heat. There was absolutely no shade out there and we were putting in some serious work. It did take a few days for me to adjust a little bit, but I was definitely surprised by how often my nose felt completely dried out. I had a few nosebleeds, but it wasn’t anything too major.
On the second day we volunteered at was Marley’s Mutts, who also partners with Camp Golden Years. Both of these organizations take in elderly dogs, big and small, as well as dogs who have been severely abused. I truly enjoyed my time at Camp Golden Years and Marley’s Mutts. There was such a wide range of breeds, sizes, and charming dog personalities.
At Marley’s Mutts and Camp Golden Years we walked the larger dogs, cleaned up after the smaller dogs, cleaned kennels, gave baths, and organized the play yard. We were so excited to have dogs to play with (we weren’t really allowed to interact with the dogs at Save Them Dogs), so we got our work done quickly and had lots of time to spend with our new fur friends. One of my favorites was a mini greyhound named Bella, who has since been adopted!
Our third day was spent at Marley’s Mutts and Camp Golden Years again. We helped them get all set up for a movie night with the dogs. It was an event that was opened to the public. People would come, hang out with the dogs, watch a movie outside on the projection screen, and hopefully fall in love with a pup.
Our team made a cute little photo backdrop for the smaller dogs. You could sit them on the bed and take really adorable photos for fun.
There was a pretty nice turn out as the sun went down. We watched Zootopia, which is one of my favorite animated movies. By the way, the sun set was absolutely stunning! There is NO FILTER on this photo, just pure natural beauty:
The last two days were spent back at Save Them Dogs, as we finished up the fencing for the training yard. One early morning we went hiking with some of the pit mixes. The views on the hills were well worth waking up to take advantage of the cooler temperature. There’s no way we could have gone hiking later in the day, it would have been way to hot for us and the dogs.
Once we were done hiking we set back to work. We experienced a lot of set-backs as we finished up the fencing project, but we got all the holes dug and the posts cemented in the ground.
We finished our project earlier than expected on the last day, so the kind team of Save Them Dogs invited us to see another aspect of their program. We met up with them at Venice Beach. There was a dog client in the city that was scheduled to do some public training. They wanted to expose her to a busier environment and we got to see how well she reacted in such a new setting.
Since we were already at Venice Beach, there was no way we couldn’t go to the ocean! We spent some time walking up and down the boardwalk. There are tons of shops, restaurants, cafes lining the walk way. Once we saw it all, we went to the water. The ocean was so beautiful and freezing cold. We stayed at the beach until the sun started to set and headed back to Palmdale.
Over all, I was highly satisfied with my first trip to California (and my first work trip). It was totally gratifying and I wish I could have taken at least one of the small senior pups home with me!
I was sad to be leaving this experience, yet I was glad to be returning home to my own dog, Yuki, and all of the dogs in my office.
If you would like to volunteer at any of these rescues, feel free to reach out to them. They always need more hands and would gladly welcome fellow dog lovers to spend a day with them!