Raining Cats and Kittens

May 8, 2009 by

With all this stormy weather, I think it’s safe to say that it’s been raining cats and dogs. However, most people don’t know that this happens every year.

Each year, in the springtime, animal shelters are flooded with puppies and kittens born to unfixed parents. The Unicoi County Animal Shelter is no exception, and right now they’re especially flooded with kittens.

Yes, it’s that time of year again — kitten season is upon us!

You could help by visiting the shelter and bringing home your own cute, cuddly, teeny tiny fuzzy ball of love! I was at UCAS today, snuggling with the little ones.

Currently the shelter has around a dozen kittens who are ready to be adopted — and let me tell you, all of them are beautiful! There are also nearly a dozen more little ones who aren’t old enough to be adopted yet, but will need to find homes in the coming weeks.

Along with the little ones, there are plenty of beautiful adult cats who need homes, including some GORGEOUS mama cats like Katie, below.

Several mamas and their babies also need foster homes. Getting mothers and young ones out of the shelter creates more room for cats and kittens who are ready to be adopted. Believe me, if I didn’t have two big, grumpy boy cats and if I had more room, I would foster a litter in a heartbeat.

My experience fostering last year was one of the best things I’ve ever done — so if you have a little room to spare, I hope you’ll consider it.

So give it some thought, please — and help your local furballs find homes!

A glimmer of Hope

January 24, 2009 by

I’ve heard it said that success stories are fuel for rescuers. In the Jan. 27 edition of the Erwin Record, check out the story of Hope, an American Pit Bull Terrier, and those locally and nationwide who helped save her life.

Here’s a teaser photo of her beautiful face. I really have one of the best jobs, getting paid to take photos of puppies for a living! Many thanks to Brad and Tammara Josselyn of Canine Hope All Breed Rescue, and all those who worked hard to give Hope a chance. Without them, this story wouldn’t have been possible.

That’s all I’m going to tell you for now — you’ll have to check out Tuesday’s edition for the full story and more beautiful photos. Call the main office, (423) 743-4112, if you’d like to buy a paper and have it mailed to you. On Tuesday we’ll also upload a photo gallery of all the photos I took of Hope, so that ya’ll can check out my work — no matter where you are!

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Animal Needs at UCAS

December 31, 2008 by

While the new year is dawning, please keep in mind that our furry friends at the Unicoi County Animal Shelter are in need of a few things. Some of the items might be some household products that you aren’t using!

They need:
— Clorox Bleach and other cleaning products
— Kitten food (they have plenty of dry adult cat food)
— Puppy food (have plenty of adult dog food)
— Canned cat food
— Small trash bags, such as plastic bags from the grocery store (a good way to recycle!)
— Gift certificates for paper, ink and other office supplies
— Laundry detergent
— Disposable rubber gloves

Also, the animal shelter tends to get very full this time of year, so if you are considering ringing in the new year with a new best friend, please go down to the shelter and take a look!

Pet Pics

December 17, 2008 by

Although I love it, snapping pictures of animals can also be one of the hardest, most frustrating things to do as a photographer.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or an occasional point-and-shooter, animal photography is never easy. If our fuzzy friends aren’t wanting to sniff, scratch and lick the camera, they’re wiggling out of the way.

I’ve found that the only way to get a great shot is patience, patience, patience. To get an animal’s attention, I sometimes hold the camera with one hand and snap my fingers with another hand. It takes a lot of blurry frames before you get it right, but when you do, it’s golden.

So if you’re trying to get that perfect shot of Fido or Fluffy for your Christmas cards, I’d suggest a steady hand, plenty of treats to reward good behavior, and a Santa’s Sleigh-load of patience.

Here’s a shot I managed to get of Digby, my 7-month-old Maine Coon, in front of my apartment’s tiny Christmas tree:

Digby

Also, check out the photo gallery from Adoption Day at the Unicoi County Animal Shelter on Dec. 13. Violet, the scrappy little kitten I photographed with the fisheye lens, was so cute! I hope she finds a good home.

Life and Times of a Crazy Animal Lover

December 17, 2008 by

For starters, I’ve been a lifelong lover of animals. Since coming to work in Unicoi County for The Erwin Record, I have crossed paths with many interesting people — and their animals.

I’m a Johnson City native who practically grew up in Noah’s Ark. I currently share a small apartment with two cats, Digby (named after Jane Digby, go read her biography) and Kooser (after Ted Kooser, whose poetry would make a lovely Christmas gift).

They both came into my life in very interesting ways — as pets often do. They are the ones to tend to find us, and not the other way around.

As previously mentioned, my parents have had a lot of animals through the years — currently the total is at three horses, three dogs, a thriving fish tank and one small snake. We’ve had rabbits, iguanas, fish, birds, horses, dogs, cats and plenty of other strange rescues — including an alligator snapping turtle, ducks and a few squirrels. Growing up in this kind of household might seem pretty abnormal to other people — but I can’t imagine a life without animals.

Later in time, I’ll probably dedicate an entire post to the legendary Rush Family Quail Incident. It’s a doozy.

After I moved out of my parent’s house, I promised myself that I was finished with pets for about five years or so. I thought it would be too much responsibility, and I felt it would be unfair to ask an animal to be understanding of my hectic college schedule.

Needless to say, that promise lasted less than two years. After growing up in an animal-filled household, living alone, without someone to greet you at the door when you come home, never feels quite right.

In April of this year, my parents asked me to visit the Washington County Animal Shelter to pick out a new cat for the barn. When I walked into the cat room, I browsed through the rows of stacked metal cages before coming to one on the end. 

When I opened the cage’s door, a handsome gray tabby immediately put his paws on my shoulder and stretched, as if to say, “Hey. Where ya been?”

I was sold. He never made it to the barn. Kooser came to live with me after his surgery (and was quite resentful for a few weeks, though I keep telling myself he couldn’t possibly know what the vet had done).

Two weeks later, I was sitting on a friend’s porch when a pregnant stray cat waddled into my lap. When I ran my hand over her sides, I could feel the babies inside of her moving. It was magical.

For those who read the opinion column that I wrote a while back, you’ll be happy to know that Mama Ani and all six of her babies found happy homes.  I ended up keeping one kitten — Digby — and he’s now grown into a massive, furry ball of love and mischief.

It was only after I rescued Mama Ani and her little ones that I realized they were Maine Coons, which is Cat Fancy language for “really, really big cat.” I think they’re a cross between Persians and Mountain Lions. Digby is 9 pounds and growing — as I’m told Maine Coons do — and over the next three years he could grow to be up to 12 pounds. Yeesh.

As I’m sure many pet owners do, I sometimes ask myself what I’m doing, sharing an apartment and my college experience with two fluffy roommates who love nothing more than to knock all of the Christmas ornaments off of my tree and then bat them around at 4 a.m.

I remember my parents making similar comments when Eva, the labrador, would devour a new loafer or Rowan, the Irish Setter, would be found curled up asleep on a new armchair.

All it takes to remember why you rescued them — or why they rescued you — is a glance into those golden, brown or black eyes to know — they melt your heart.

In the future, expect plenty of stories of people and their animals, plenty of photos, a few tips and a lot of laughs.

Step by Step, Brick by Brick

February 7, 2008 by

I love the idea of buying a personalized brick to help support the soon-to-be-opened Unicoi County Animal Shelter.

The bricks are being sold in two sizes – a standard 4-by-8-inch brick and 12-by-12-inch.

The standard size will cost $50 each and can be personalized with up to three lines with 14 characters per line. The larger bricks can be purchased for $100 each and can include a company logo or up to six lines and 17 characters per line.
Animal Welfare Board Chairperson Sue Jean Wilson said the brick campaign is just another way for the county to rally around the shelter.

Bricks can be personalized to be in honor or in memory of a person or a pet.

Order forms for the bricks can be picked up at The Erwin Record’s office in historic downtown Erwin at 218 Gay St., the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department at 102 N. Main Ave. or the County Mayor’s office in the Unicoi County Courthouse.