Pets are in the news! This week alone the New York Times had a story about a trained mink in Utah and a report on a new app— MeowTalk— that translates our cats’ sounds into English. The Washington Post featured a pet alligator who’s a Registered Emotional Support Animal.
What kinds of pets do we see around Port Townsend? Once at North Beach I saw someone walking her pet ferret on a leash. Proud ferret owners claim they were domesticated 2,500 years ago as hunters of rats and rabbits. Owners emphasize how curious, affectionate, and entertaining ferrets are, as well as the need to understand their “biting behavior.” Note that it’s illegal to own a ferret in several states.
2. Alpaca in Summer
A more common exotic pet in Port Townsend is the Alpaca, a camelid mammal that roams in herds in South America’s Andes mountains. Here’s a very relaxed Alpaca chewing some straw on a summer day, just like a country bumpkin.
3. Alpaca in Winter
Here’s a different Alpaca, also relaxed and enjoying a snowy winter day with its thick, warm, wooly coat. My warmest gloves and scarves are knit from Alpaca wool.
4. Nigerian Dwarf Goat Kid
Another farm pet from afar is the Nigerian Dwarf Goat. These adorable goats provide the milk for goat milk soap sold by Kodama Farm on Beaver Valley Road in Chimacum. “We take pride in the health and happiness of our animals, treating them not just as livestock, but members of the Kodama family,” the farmers say. My husband got to hold and cuddle a three-day old kid who already was sprouting little nubs for horns.
5. Marrowstone Goat
One day I was riding my bike on Marrowstone Island, and stopped to admire an unusual goat with multiple horns. I wonder what breed it was, and where it originally came from.
6. British Soay Sheep
Casey and Eric of Port Townsend’s Wilderbee Farm raise rare British Soay Sheep, a primitive elfin breed that doesn’t flock. They explain that with fewer than 1,500 known breeding ewes in the world, Soay Sheep are considered at risk. “Breeders register sheep with the UK’s Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST), and genetics are recorded in an extensive database.”
7. Horse and Pony
Port Townsend pet owners tend to take excellent care of their beloved pets. This horse and pony were bundled up for a chilly day.
8. Donkeys in the Snow
And these two donkeys were wrapped in warm coats for a snowy day.
Are you a dog person? My friend Jackie adores her buddy, Pearl. Pearl adores Jackie, and she also loves rolling in wet mud, but only when Jackie’s not looking.
10. Dose and 10. Desi & Lucy
Some local dogs come with very sad histories, and now they have loving homes. These dogs were all left by the side of the road. Abandoned at the Dosewallips trailhead is Dose, named for that location. After she spent a month recovering at Jefferson County Humane Society, my friends Gretchen and Michael brought her home. These twins sharing a leash, Lucy and Desi, were small puppies when they were left by the road in a paper bag, and found ten years ago by a man I met walking them on the beach. The dogs and man clearly love each other!
Although I’m officially a cat person, here’s one more dog. I just had to include Brina. She’s Wilderbee Farm’s eleven-year-old livestock guardian dog, half Great Pyrenees and half Bucovina. Casey and Eric say, “both breeds are confident, gentle, and affectionate… territorial, and protective of their flock.” (They don’t mention that Brina would much rather play and hang out with her people than protect chickens and sheep from coyotes and eagles.)
As an official cat person, this last photo shows our beloved Lucía. Please don’t tell her brother Paco that her photo was selected. Named for Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucía, these two are indoor cats, only venturing out with a harness and leash. Statistics vary on the number of birds killed annually by domestic and feral cats, but given the decline in overall populations of wild birds, I think we cat owners have a responsibility to help protect the birds. Cats who wander in our area also face becoming prey themselves for coyotes, cougars, and eagles. Lucía loves to sit in the garden on a sunny day, watching and smelling everything.