If you’ve ever succumbed to the persuasive powers of an adoptable cat (or two, or more!), chances are Amanda’s experience with PAWS alumnus Malcolm will resonate with you. For those of you thinking about adding a feline friend to your family, her moving story of life with a senior cat may open up a whole new world of potentially perfect companions.
This is a letter to anyone considering the adoption of a senior cat, and to the people at PAWS who made this all possible.
When I adopted Malcolm he was seven and a half years old, with an arrhythmia of the heart and severe allergies to just about anything. However, to know Malcolm was to love Malcolm. This test has been proven several times, and he has a reputation for turning the most allergy ridden, insecure and unconfident human into a cat person.
He was amazing.
I was young when Malcolm chose me. I was 21, with only a part time job and a part time fiancé. I was two states away from my family, friends and the home I knew. I couldn’t afford his many ailments and I had every reason to say no. I even tried once. But in the end, there was no ‘saying no’ to Malcolm.
The day I brought him home was terrifying. I wondered if he would adapt well enough, if I was enough, if he could thrive in this home that I had built. Naturally, he walked in like he owned the place. In so many ways, he made me feel more at home there then I would have felt on my own. Every bit of love I gave to him, he returned ten times over. It was as though he knew that I would be his ‘forever home’.
Malcolm was work. As I mentioned, he was allergic to everything; laundry detergents, fleas, flea medication, pain medication, grains, and scented litter. And then there was his heart murmur to keep an eye on. Some days, it was more than I could handle. But Malcolm acted every day as though he was worth it, and by the end of even the hardest day, he proved he was right.
I’m not going to go into detail of the years of loss, change and growth that we went through together; but I will say that he was by my side every second. Making him my first priority always resulted in the best solution. I couldn’t go wrong.
Malcolm died of a heart attack last week. He was mine for only five years. Five years is a very short relationship to have with a pet, but for me and for us, it was five years of love and adoration.
A senior cat can have a lot of love to give. They can lend you the experience you lack, and they can be the most confident partners. Senior cats know more about themselves than we, as humans, know of ourselves. All you have to do is listen with your heart and trust that your best will be enough.
My senior cat was a success story. And though it breaks my heart to be without him, he has taught me a valuable lesson: never dismiss a life because of age or ailments. When I am ready to adopt again, I hope to find another senior. I hope that anyone reading this message will take my advice to heart.
Summer is slowly coming to a close and with it marks the end of the baby bird season at PAWS Wildlife Center. At this point in time baby birds that migrate are preparing for their long journey south while others are finding their way on their own here in Washington.
Currently we are only caring for three babies in the baby bird nursery: a Spotted Towhee and two Barn Swallows. At the height of the season there were over 50 baby birds in the nursery at one time. Most of which were on different feeding schedules and diets.
This season we cared for 32 different species in the baby bird nursery. They ranged from larger birds like American Crows down to tiny birds like Anna’s Hummingbirds. The most common species this year were Dark-Eyed Juncos, American Crows, Violet-Green Swallows and Pacific Wrens. We also received a few rarities as well; a Red-Winged Black Bird, a Black Headed Grosbeak (pictured above) and four Downy Woodpeckers.
Over the past couple of months we have been slowly releasing our youngsters and so far this year we have released over 150 birds who were raised in the nursery.
A huge thank you to over 45 baby bird nursery volunteers and interns for working so hard this summer to make sure these babies get a second chance at life.
Here is a look at some of our memorable patients.
left to right: Cedar Waxwing, Anna's Hummingbird, Violet Green Swallows
left to right: Brown Headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch and House Finch, Bewick's Wren
What’s happening in Washington this month? Large congregations of birds are starting to come together in preparation for their long journey south this fall.
Some of the more obvious congregations you will see, even in our urban environment, are those of swallows.
Barn Swallow Fledgeling
Seven members of the swallow family breed in Washington each year (Violet-green, Cliff, Barn, Bank, Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Purple Marten). You may have seen these birds swooping down like little fighter jets hunting for insects in open areas and seen their mud nests clinging to the sides of buildings and under bridges.
In late summer Swallows begin to join together on power lines along the road before they start their fall migration to Central and South America where insects are more abundant.
Photo by: Jamie Bails WDFW Biologist
Some species of swallows, such as Violet-green and Cliff seem to thrive in urban environments and are seen there more readily. Recently Jamie Bails, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Biologist, discovered a nesting colony of Cliff Swallows in the most unlikely of places; tucked underneath a trestle on State Route 2 between Everett and Snohomish (pictured above). You can find out more about this fascinating story at WDFW Crossing Paths August 2015.
Cliff swallows traditionally nest on cliff sides and inside canyons. The increase in concrete buildings and bridges has provided more habitat options. This has resulted in a expansion of their range and evolution toward a smaller body size with longer wingspan to help them avoid speeding cars.
Although Cliff Swallows are numerous in the Seattle area we rarely receive them at PAWS Wildlife Center, however we do frequently receive Violet-green Swallows aptly named for their purplish green coloration. This year we received over forty, twenty-nine of which were juveniles (pictured above). This is twice as many as we have ever received in any one year.
Similar to the Cliff Swallow, Violet-greens thrive in urban environments due to their preference for open areas. Dr. John Marzluff, an author and professor at University of Washington, states in his book Welcome to Subirdia that Violet-green Swallows are the “kings of Subirdia” making up eight percent of all birds living in developments after construction. In fact, swallows of all types are the one of the most abundant urban birds.
Violet-green’s ability to thrive in a more urban environment is attributed to their exploitation of human-made nest cavities in boxes, soffits and streetlamps.
As you spend these last weeks of summer enjoying the outdoors stop to take a look around you and see if you can spot any of these little swallows zipping through the air. I bet you will see some in the most unlikely of places.
Dogs have always been part of Janiece’s life so, when her beloved Dozer passed away in 2012, it was somewhat inevitable that life soon began to feel empty and the pull to get another dog became stronger. Little did she know the amazing and life-changing adventure that awaited her with Roxy, adopted in January 2013 and now about to become a fully-fledged Search and Rescue dog!
How did you find Roxy? I love telling this story! In November of 2012, my old dog Dozer passed away and I soon started feeling the pull to get another dog. Of course, everyone loves to help you find a new dog, so my friends at work were scanning all the adoption sites for me. A good friend at work (and prior PAWS volunteer) found a shepherd mix she thought would be perfect. I raced to PAWS after work to meet her.
Just talking to her through the kennel door I could tell she wasn’t the dog for me, but as I walked by Roxy something made me stop. I’d seen her previously on the website but she hadn’t triggered anything with me, until I saw her. I instantly knew she was supposed to be in my life.
It was too late to do a meet and greet that day, so I planned to come back the next day. When I got there another family was visiting with her. I was crushed and hoped they wouldn’t click with her. Luckily for me they didn’t and I got to spend some time with her.
She didn’t really care about me and was basically just a big puppy at that point. All she really knew was how to sit for cookies. She had A LOT of energy and was a little nippy (ah, the herding breeds!). I was hooked and put a hold on her. She came home the next day and settled right in on the car ride home.
What were some of the highlights of your first weeks together? Oh dear, I wish I could say it was a honeymoon from the beginning, but that was not the case! She tried to attack my cat Bailey (there was a baby gate between them), spent a couple months peeing on the floor, and was horrible with visitors. She was, however, a total sweetheart! As she settled into her new life, we worked through all those issues . She’s now great with the cat (they share my bed), never pees inside and loves meeting new people!
Were you looking for a Search and Rescue candidate when you started looking for a dog? I was not, but quickly realized after I got Roxy, this dog NEEDS to work! The Snohomish County K9 Team was hosting an open house, so I decided to check it out. We joined in 2013. Two years later, here we are and my life has completely changed!
How does the training work? In Snohomish County, you’re first a member of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR). There are training requirements at the county level including navigation, first aid, and wilderness survival. The county also has specialty teams, such as K9 and Equine, and each team has additional training based on their specialty. On average it takes 18 to 24 (or more) months to certify a dog. There’s no cost for the training, however you do have to purchase and maintain your own equipment.
What makes Roxy such a good candidate for SAR? She has high drive (she LOVES to play tug and “hunt” people), she’s bold, energetic and athletic. She’s that dog that will go all day, rest for an hour and be ready to go again. That’s the type of dog that drives you crazy as a pet but makes an excellent SAR dog!
What does the life of a SAR dog involve? Training, training and more training! Pretty much I just try to keep up with her. We do agility once a week, train with the team once or twice a week, and work on obedience, etc. in between. She also has regular doggie play dates with her friends. Down time to just “be a dog” is really important too. It’s easy to burn a dog out with too much training.
In additional to all of that, it’s important to keep your SAR dog physically fit. We ask a lot of them when they’re working and they need to be prepared for that. We do something active pretty much every day, sometimes that’s a run, a romp at the park or a good hike.
Any funny training moments you can share? She had a brief stint as a sled dog while we were training at Mount Rainier. I fell down and she was so excited to start her problem she kept going. I held on and went for a little ride. I think I see skijoring (a winter sport where you’re on skis and pulled by a dog/horse/vehicle) in our future!
What will the next steps be once you’re certified? She’ll be ready to deploy on missions. She’s currently working on her Airscent Certification, which involves working off leash in large areas. We’ve also done some disaster and avalanche training, and will likely continue to pursue that after she’s certified in Airscent.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to adopt a dog? First and foremost, make sure you’re getting a dog for the right reasons and you have the time to commit to dog ownership. Second, make sure you get the right dog for your lifestyle and be realistic about what that is. I see so many people get that “cute” working breed, then don’t give it a job. Those dogs will find a job, we’ve bred them to work. They may just decide that eating your couch or herding your children is the best job for them!
Get professional guidance from the beginning. Even if you’ve had dogs before, this helps get you and the dog off on the right foot. Give your dog time to adjust and try to see things from his/her perspective. Their entire world has just been turned upside down. Who knows what their history is? Their behavior is based on their past experiences, and that won’t change overnight.
Dogs of all shapes, sizes and personalities end up in shelters looking for that new forever family who’ll let their talents shine – whether those talents are delivering love through snuggles, creating laughter through fun times, or saving lives. Thank you, Janiece, for seeing Roxy’s potential and giving her the perfect career as well as the perfect home!
On May 23, 2015 PAWS Wildlife Center received a severely injured adult Coyote.
Entangled in discarded construction wire, the Coyote had wire around his neck and impaled in his right front paw. It was so tight that it caused a very large deep open wound on the back of his neck.
He was seen limping in a North Seattle neighborhood and reported by several concerned members of the public, which led to his capture by an animal control officer. Based on the severity of his injuries and fear that this Coyote would die the officer quickly brought him to PAWS for medical attention.
Our rehabilitator and veterinary staff examined him immediately and carefully removed the wire from his neck and paw. He was put on antibiotics, his wounds where cleaned and dressed, and he was placed in one of our isolation rooms where he could be closely monitored.
The neck wound covered over half of his neck, went almost down to the bone and one of his ligaments was destroyed. Initially we were concerned he would never be able to lift his head, let alone survive. The weeks following his arrival were filled with wound management, antibiotics, and all the fresh food he could eat.
Thanks to the expertise of our medical and rehabilitation staff the Coyote’s neck was completely healed after 73 days in our care.
With the help of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, a suitable release site was located. On August 4th he left the carrier without hesitation only to look back for a split second before disappearing into the forest.
This Coyote is extremely lucky to have had such a caring community keep a watchful eye on him which led to his eventual capture and recovery.
We are seeing more and more patients with entanglement injuries, this coyote’s story is an excellent example of how poorly discarded garbage such as wire and plastic can negatively affect the wildlife we live with.
If you happen to see any debris laying around please pick it up and discard it in a trash can to help prevent these types of accidents from happening.
What's the sleek medium-sized mammal who roams the forests near streams, rivers and ponds across much of the United States and Canada? It has a glossy fur coat, spends most of its time hunting for food, and has webbed feet...
It's the American Mink.
What you may not know is that American Mink are actually native to Washington and found state wide. Feeding on small mammals and fish, these carnivores are also excellent swimmers and will dive to 16 feet deep!
Mink are part of the mustelidae, or weasel, family along with River Otters, Badgers, Martens, Ferrets, Wolverines and—of course—Weasels.
In the wild their rich glossy coat is dark brown, and they can be distinguished from other weasels by the white marking on their chin. Weighing just over two pounds, they have small ears and short stubby legs.
Mink are very territorial and will spray intruders with a foul smelling liquid much like skunks. We know, hard to believe looking at the innocent faces of these recent arrivals at PAWS Wildlife Center!
We rarely receive Mink here at PAWS, but this year we're caring for two youngsters.
In mid-May we received a two ounce baby male whose eyes were still closed. He was found lying under a bench on a boat dock in Bellevue. About a month later a female was transferred to us from Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. She was also found alone, too young to survive on her own.
It's extremely important that youngsters in care don't become habituated or too used to people. This can be dangerous for the animal and for humans. To help prevent that, Wolf Hollow and PAWS decided these two mink should grow up together and the female was transferred to us.
The mink have been sharing an enclosure for several weeks now and love to play, hunt, explore and swim. With enrichment provided by our staff and volunteers they are learning skills they will need to survive when they are returned to the wild later this year.
If you were following PAWS News back in March, you're sure to know the story of Betty Blue - a pit bull who gave birth alone in a field alongside a canal in California. Her courage, tenacity and unreserved faith in humans captivated and inspired all who met or read about her.
Today, an email from her new family has us reaching for the Kleenex to mop away those happy tears. Read on as Christine shares her family's first three months with this lovable lady:
Ms. Betty Blue…where to begin? We’ve had the pleasure of sharing our lives with Betty for just over three months and honestly we couldn’t be happier.
Betty’s an eager to please, not so little goof-ball, who knows she’s got us wrapped around her paw. Her clumsy gait and big happy smile are so endearing I can’t imagine our lives without her. A gentle love bug whose tail starts thumping the second you say her name, she’s brought much joy into our home.
Betty and Ella (our feline baby) co-exist better than I could have asked for, and I am so appreciative to PAWS staff, who spent a good hour talking me through proper cat/dog introductions. As I think in most households, our cat tends to call the shots, and Betty for the most part has been extremely respectful of Ella’s boundaries. I don’t see the two of them cuddling up anytime soon, but they co-exist peacefully together.
On a side note, when Betty first arrived we purchased three large dog beds for different rooms of the house; she immediately decided the tiny cat bed was the best option (pictured, below) and chose that instead (the fact Betty is 70lbs and doesn’t fully fit in the 10lb cat’s bed didn’t seem to bother Betty one bit).
Betty’s an avid swimmer who loves car rides, walks in the neighborhood park, and overnight camping trips; although why one would want to leave a warm comfy bed to sleep on the ground in a tent is still beyond her!
Betty’s left her mark on Cougar Rock Campground and Paradise at Mt. Rainier, and she’s been an excellent travel partner on our adventures.
Her grandparents live on beach front property near Hood Canal and she tries her best to swim straight out to sea whenever we visit. Try as she might, she still hasn’t figured out how to move the buoys, which I can only assume from her perspective look like giant toy balls. She also has a habit of dragging to shore driftwood double or even triple her size; what she needs a log that large for is still a mystery to us!
Betty’s still on medication daily, and will be most likely for the rest of her life. She has a bit of trouble going down stairs when excited, as her momentum and exuberance tend to get the best of her two front legs but—for the most part—Betty doesn’t let her injuries bother her.
We’ve introduced hydrotherapy sessions (pictured right), which are a fantastic workout for her and include massages while in a warm salt water pool.
While the weather’s still good though we’ll be trying to get her back in the ocean swimming as much as possible!
Since bringing her home, Betty has reaffirmed our decision to adopt every day, and we feel lucky to have her.
Thank you everyone was involved in her rescue and transport from California, and those who supported her care, we’re so grateful to share our hearts with her!
If ever proof was needed to reinforce the saying "those who say money can't buy happiness have never paid an adoption fee", this is it. Thank YOU Christine – we're so very grateful that Betty Blue found you.
As summer moves forward, things at PAWS Wildlife Center are getting busier and busier. We’re currently treating hundreds of patients and releasing them by the dozens every week. Our baby bird nursery is alive with the sounds of hungry chicks, from the pool pad you can hear the splashes of seal pups, and on top of the hill you can hear the rustling of deer fawns exploring.
Currently we’re raising five deer fawns in the seclusion of our deer pen. There are four Columbian Black-tailed Deer (pictured, above) from the west side of the Cascades, and one Mule Deer from the east side; all orphaned. Some were found on the side of the road after their mother was hit by a car while others were found alone, sick and dehydrated.
The first fawn came to us on May 24, right at the beginning of the deer birthing season. He was a small spotted fawn weighing only 7.5 pounds. Just four days later, a small female was transferred to us from Second Chance Wildlife Care Center in Snohomish, WA so they could grow up together and learn from each other.
By July 7, we were at capacity.
It’s very important when raising these deer fawns that they don’t become habituated to humans. To prevent this they’re housed in a large specialized deer pen that includes native plants for them to nibble on and hide in (pictured, above). This stimulates natural behaviors they’ll need to survive in the wild.
As the video below shows, there’s also a specialized bottle rack so we can feed them formula out of sight before they're weaned.
With the traumatic experiences that brought them to PAWS behind them, all five deer are doing well. They move in a herd through their enclosure, exploring and snoozing under cover during the heat of the day.
They'll stay with us until the fall when they'll be strong enough and mature enough to return to the woodlands of Washington.
We all know summer in the Pacific Northwest is the best time of year and, with all of the sunny days we’re enjoying right now, people are spending a lot more time outdoors. Not surprising given all the activities there are to offer here in Washington!
If you’re a wildlife lover this a great time of year to tour Western Washington and see a diversity of wildlife. Whether you’re a fan of raptors, waterfowl, amphibians or marine mammals there’s a place to enjoy them all.
Here are a few hot spots filled with wildlife to enjoy:
North Western Washington
Semiahmoo Park and Museum This is a long sand spit with tidelands, mudflats and sandy beaches near the border of Washington and Canada. Take a short walk along the spit and enjoy marine life including Harbor Seals(pictured below), clams, crabs, seabirds and even a few shore birds.
Deception Pass Although Deception Pass is famous for its picturesque bridge, it’s also a fantastic place to view wildlife. This old growth forest also has a rocky shoreline and several freshwater lakes. There’s an array of marine and bird life to be seen here including sea cucumbers, sea stars, eagles, osprey, owls and deer.
Central Western Washington
Carkeek Park This 220 acre park located in north Seattle not only has a rocky beach but also deciduous forest, meadows and grassland hosting a plethora of species. Here you can not only see moon snails, acorn barnacles and clams, but also seabirds, songbirds, and some waterfowl.
Discovery Park A 534 acre park in Seattle, Discovery Park has a variety of habitats including mixed woodlands, streams, meadows, and rocky beaches. You have the opportunity to see tidal pools with marine life, river otters, mountain beaver and owls, just to name a few.
West Hylebos Wetland Park Forest Park is home to this 120 acre wetland home to an array of amphibian and reptile species including red legged frogs, northwest salamanders, painted turtles and alligator lizards. Aquatic mammals such as muskrats, minks, weasels and beavers can also be spotted in the riparian streams.
South Western Washington
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Located just east of Olympia this 3,000 acre wildlife refuge is a birder’s dream. It encompasses salt and freshwater marshes, mixed forest, mudflats, riparian zones and woodlands. Raptors, woodpeckers (like the Pileated Woodpecker pictured below), waterfowl, river otters, salmon and deer all call this diversity of habitats home.
Lewis & Clark State Park Named for the two pioneers of the west this old growth forest park is home to bald eagles, hawks, owls, black bears, coyotes, deer and Douglas squirrels. The park has an interpretive trail that will help you learn about these species and more.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge This wildlife refuge is located in the Columbia River floodplain in southern Washington. Year round you can see waterfowl, raptors, coyotes (pictured below), river otters and herons.
Once you've picked your perfect spot to explore, how do you make the most of your wildlife viewing expedition? Here are some top tips from our experts at PAWS Wildlife Center:
Viewing is best at dawn and dusk.
Check the tidal phase if going to a marine park.
Observe wildlife from a distance – if they react to your movement you’re too close.
Be patient and move slowly and quietly.
Use field guides to learn about wildlife.
Be considerate while you're a guest in our wild neighbors' home – don't feed, touch, approach, or chase wildlife.
Enjoy this summer and the habitats and wildlife Washington has to offer!
Summer is in full swing in the Seattle area and that means Harbor Seals are having their pups. You may have already started seeing adults more often in the water and snoozing on the beach.
Chubby Harbor Seal females haul out and give birth to one pup during the summer along the coast. They then nurse their pup for an average of 24 days, during which time pups gain between 1.1 and 1.3 pounds per day. They're able to gain so much weight due to the high fat content of the female’s milk.
Pictured: our first Harbor Seal pup of the season, read on for his rescue story
As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time and energy from the female, who cares for her pup by herself. To keep up with the demands of her hungry pup, during the nursing period, females must leave their babies alone on the beach for hours at a time to forage. During this time pups sleep on the beach awaiting their mothers’ return. This is typically when people see baby seals alone on the beach.
Harbor seals, like every other marine mammal, are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act which prohibits approaching, touching and harassing them at any time. You can, however, quietly observe them from 100 yards away.
Sometimes Harbor Seal pups are deemed abandoned by NOAA Fisheries and brought to local wildlife centers for rehabilitation. PAWS Wildlife Center is one of two centers in Washington state permitted to take in seals.
We just received our first Harbor Seal pup of the season on June 26th. This male pup (pictured below) was seen alone trying to crawl up a cement pillar offshore, which is no place for a seal pup.
As soon as the frightened seal pup was reported to Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network they responded right away, erecting a large tape perimeter to keep people away as they watched for any signs of mom.
They kept a close eye on the pup for over 24 hours and yet no mom appeared. Due to the very public location of this pup in Lincoln Park, NOAA deemed him a candidate for rehabilitation and he was transported to PAWS.
On arrival he had a few puncture wounds on his head and tail, he weighed just over 18 pounds, and was pretty hungry (intake examination pictured above). His wounds were cleaned and he was given fluids to stabilize him for the night.
Currently he is doing well and adjusting to the outside pool where he spends his days, swimming, sunning, and snoozing.