The perils and joys of owning an alpaca

I own a tiny grey alpaca named Shimmer. I bought her for $250 two winters ago and she hasn’t stopped costing me money since. I’m building a small fiber business, selling Oregon yarn and hand knits online. I’m about wool. One year into my ambitious little alpaca fiber program, I thought Shimmer would be 1) pregnant by now 2) friendlier to me and 3) well … friendlier to me.  Continue reading 

Portland’s Pussycat Paradise

An afternoon at Portland’s Purringtons Cat Lounge, the Northwest’s first cat cafe


Cats are winning. As I write this, my cat, Elsie, slinks around my legs, looking up at me, knowingly. Cats have always known they were winners; it just took society, with a helpful boop from the internet, some time to catch up. Dogs, however, in all their earnest, loyal, slopping glory, have long ruled the hearts of the majority, from “man’s best friend” to Old Yeller. For millennia, dogs have stood by as our companions, our families, our heroes. Continue reading 

Walk This Way

Local animal lovers take the career path less traveled

Alicia Johnson

After spending 30 stressful years working as a computer technician, Steve Walker found himself in his early sixties and looking for a career change that would facilitate both his retirement and his golfing hobby. Walker chose dog walking. A year and a half later and Walker’s “Top Dog” offers dog walking, pet sitting, vacation visits, pet transportation and errand running. The business has grown to the point that he occasionally turns down jobs to retain his partial retirement. Continue reading 

Animal House

An afternoon with artist Jud Turner and his pet family

Standing in Jud Turner’s kitchen, a gaggle of cats gobbling snacks at our feet, we hear a faint ting-a-ling coming from the basement. “I think he just rang his bell,” Turner says, straining to hear. “He has a bell that he rings when he wants to go outside or wants to know what’s up.” Turner disappears down the stairs. “What’s up, piggy?” I hear him say. He’s answered with some contented snorting. Continue reading 

Hot, Hairy Kitties

There’s more than one way to shave a cat

A week of 90-degree days is enough to make anyone break out short sleeves, but we hairless humans have it easy. Imagine, if you will, a world where the only escape from scorching summer temperatures is a full-body shave. This reality exists, and your cat lives it every time the heat bears down. Thankfully, Beth Swanzy, owner of Amazon Park Professional Pet Grooming, has your kitty’s back, and she makes the job look easy. Continue reading