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Exotic Birds

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

Exotic Birds: Lively Multilingual When I was a veterinarian assistant from 1977 to 1979, I was given two exotic birds—one of whom was terminally ill. My instructions for him were to “love him to death”; that is, to love him until he died. But I have loved him ever since, too. He was a Salmon-Crested…

To Capture a Creature, AVOID These Tactics

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

To Capture a Creature, AVOID TheseTactics Twice in my early youth I did the unthinkable and inexcusable…out of sheer exuberant ignorance. When I was five or six, I threw a rock in the direction of a bird that was standing on a stump, thinking there was no way in the world I would ever hit…

Reptiles and Amphibians

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

Reptiles and Amphibians Anoles, Newts, Tadpoles and Salamanders Although dogs, cats and parakeets were my first indoor pets, my birthplace was Spanaway, a bedroom community of Tacoma, near Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest.  I sometimes call western Washington State “the Pacific North-Wet” because it’s on the side of the Cascade Mountains where rainfall is…

My First Cat Timothy

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

My First Cat Timothy Mom and Dad brought the first pets into our home. Timothy was your typical tabby-striped cat. I named him after my cousin, Tim Smith. Timothy was neutered, laid back, imperturbable, and decidedly perfect for a first pet—when treated right! In fact, he was even perfect for a pet when perturbed, because…

First Dogs Puddles and Snazzy

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

First Dogs Puddles and Snazzy My first dog, Puddles, was a knee-high blonde-and-brownish-white mutt. We got her from fellow who put horse shoes on our horses), Gordy Woods.   We originally named her Cindy but she quickly earned the nickname Puddles owing to the puddles she left on the floor before she was fully house-trained.…

Into the Woods With Bears

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

Into the Woods With Bears While we lived in Cle Elum, Washington, our home and property pretty much butted up against a National Forest, so we were well aware of the wildlife that surrounded us. I was never particularly afraid of the furry neighbors who lived in the forest. I love animals of all shapes…

Fawn in the Canal

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

Fawn in the Canal & Gabriel Raccoon Just a heads up: Both of these stories end sadly because of teenage boys with grownup toys…but they’re worth telling anyway. Fawn in the Canal Huge, racing irrigation canals crisscross the arid half of Washington State. These canals, at least twenty feet deep and sixty feet wide, direct…

“Beekeeping” Gone Bad

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

“Beekeeping” Gone Bad Lest you begin to believe that I was an infallible savant when it came to animal behavior as a youngster, here’s a telling anecdote that will quickly dispel that notion… I was walking home from a friend’s house one day when I spotted yellow jackets (meat-eating wasps) coming out of a hole…

Savvy Steeds at Your Service

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

Savvy Steeds at Your Service The most fascinating thing about getting new horses is the fact that you don’t know what kind of training they arrive with, in most cases. Our first family horses, Sugar Babe and Stormy, came to us without proper introductions. Larry Kirkwood, a family friend who knew horses as few others…

The Art and Science of Bathing a Cat

By KrisSmith | January 31, 2017

The Art and Science of Bathing a Cat Disclaimer: This method has worked well for me for decades with scores of different cats, but not with every cat. If you try this method after reading this, you are doing so at your own risk. As a rule, domestic cats—in fact, most species of cats except…