Last year’s event drew 10,000 people so the organization of it had to be, and was, extraordinary. A legion of Best Friends volunteers had the convention center ready for our arrival early Saturday morning. Tables for the shelter folks had been set up around the perimeter of the room and rows upon rows of temporary kennels were built in the middle, each filled with a soft layer of pine shavings which made the room full of hundreds of animals smell more like a forest than a dog kennel. The Best Friends volunteers were outfitted in bright orange t-shirts so they were easy to spot if you needed help, but there was never a time when we had to ask–they anticipated and filled every need. Whenever I took Bailey outside for an occasional walk in the grass, we returned to a gleaming bucket of fresh, cold water and a fluffed kennel, sort of like having your napkin refolded at your table when you return from the dance floor at a wedding reception.
The volunteers swept floors, picked up dog poop, assisted with confused dogs (and people), opened gates, gave directions and helped with the dogs if an agency was short-staffed. They even had a system for the inevitable runaway, which I witnessed first-hand when a handler from a shelter across the aisle from us did not latch the door to her kennel. Four little dogs poured out and raced down the aisle toward the exit. A Best Friends volunteer stepped up, scooped up one of the runaways, blew a whistle and magic! Ten thousand orange-shirted men and women descended, gathered the rest and returned them to their mortified handler.
(So glad it wasn’t me).