“One day with Spike and you’ll fall in love with all pit bulls,” we overheard the volunteer coordinator tell a fellow guest seeking a doggie sleepover.
My husband and I were staying at Best Friends Animal Society‘s sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. We spent two days at this haven for rescued animals — the largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals in the nation, spanning 3,000 acres and home to approximately 1,600 animals.
The sleepover program allows guests who volunteer an opportunity to host one of the dogs from the sanctuary’s Dogtown as an overnight guest. The dog gets to socialize and the humans get a chance to spoil him with love and treats.
When we initially requested a furry mate, we wanted one that could go on a hike because southern Utah is ideal for exploring the great outdoors. Then we learned about Spike, who suffers from arthritis and is bow legged.
At seven years old, Spike has been at Best Friends for almost a year after spending his early years in various foster homes in California. But when we found out how wonderful he is, we didn’t hesitate before signing up to take this pittie. We wanted to spend time with him and nothing else mattered.
After our volunteer shift of cleaning cages, we eagerly awaited our meeting with Spike. As we stood in the parking lot, we spotted him riding alongside a staff member on a golf cart heading towards us. He greeted us with a wide grin and happily jumped in our car. We instantly fell in love with his calm disposition, sweet face, and the pink, heart-shaped marking on his nose.
He’s clearly done this many times, as a preferred sleepover canine at Best Friends. Spike made himself comfortable and started napping as we drove towards Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, a half hour drive from the sanctuary.
We knew we couldn’t walk him for long, but still wanted to show him a good time. We parked the car a short distance from the park and got the boy out. While my husband walked ahead to take photos, I strolled with Spike as we made our way to the edge of a small bluff overlooking the rolling pink hills. He was content enjoying the feel of cool sand under his paws and the evening sun on his skin.
Sitting at the edge with my new friend, I realized what a blessing it was to experience this stunning beauty of Utah with a special dog next to me. As if he was reading my mind, Spike turned towards me, and showered me with kisses. It didn’t take us long to bond and I was delighted that we were brought together, at least for the day.
We were told Spike does really well dining out, so we took him to Escobar’s Mexican Restaurant in downtown Kanab, just minutes from Best Friends. His beautiful white and beige coat and gorgeous face turned heads but, most of all, it was his genial disposition that kept the stares coming.
We sat down on the outdoor patio, with Spike dutifully perched next to me, his big, brown eyes hoping for scraps. The staff at Dogtown said we could give him any food we wanted as he wasn’t on a special diet, so I shared a few nachos and he happily devoured them, while still maintaining his good manners.
When you’re in the middle of the wilderness, there’s nothing much happening after the sun sets. The three of us sat on the porch and stargazed. Spike wandered around sniffing the brushes and marking his territory.
When it was time for bed, I set out a thick blanket on the floor and gave him a toy. He returned my actions with a confused look, as if to say, “you really expect me to sleep down here while you get that big, comfortable mattress?” He refused to relax.
I stepped away for a few minutes to retrieve something from the car and returned to the cabin to find Spike comfortably dozing on the bed.
He sprawled out and felt perfectly at home, leaving little room for us — and we didn’t mind one bit. During the night, Spike started out at my feet and slowly made his way up to my pillow, his face inches away from mine; as light broke, one of his paws rested on me. I couldn’t help but smile at this adorable dog’s behavior.
He wanted nothing more than to cuddle, ignoring my husband. No wonder his profile says he loves women.
Women love Spike, too. After all, he’s a handsome fellow who dotes on everyone he meets. Melissa Arrowood, Spike’s handler, said, “He’s definitely a major love bug. Every sleepover evaluation comes back perfect. One thing they consistently say is that he’s a bed hog.” There’s no doubt about it.
The next morning, we bid farewell to Spike, wishing we could take him home (but knowing we couldn’t because of our picky dog). But the time we spent with Spike will forever remain an unforgettable memory for years to come.
Related: I Fell In Love With A Pit Bull
Currently, Spike is showered with plenty of love at the sanctuary and he goes on plenty of sleepovers. But he’s looking for his forever family so he doesn’t have to spend any more nights with strangers or by himself.
He’s best suited for someone who’s willing to take it slow, and is happy just sitting on the couch cuddling, or taking short walks. If you decide to take this sweetheart home, I guarantee that you’ll be instantly enamored.
To fill out an application, visit the Best Friends website or contact 435-644-2001. Spike’s adoption fee is waived, and his sponsor will fund his transportation.
PupJournal is proudly hosting National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW, to celebrate blocky-headed wigglebutts, otherwise known as “pit bulls.” It’s time these pups are able to live their lives free from discrimination and harm. You can find articles, videos, and adoptable dogs on our National Pit Bull Week page and on Facebook. Join us by tagging National #PitBullWeek, or #NPBW!
Header images via Lavanya Sunkara