The Christmas season is upon us. A fun family event is a visit to see all the trees at Rosario Resort decorated by island nonprofits. Our tree is beautiful thanks to the decorating talents of our shelter elves. Come, enjoy and vote. Take time to look at the creative ways ornaments can be made on our tree. Mason jar lids turned into sweet picture frames – so creative!
Each dog and cat coming through the doors of our animal shelter brings its own unique story. With love and skill, our dedicated staff and volunteers learn about the needs of each animal in their care and work together to find them good homes.
Each year, Orcas APS recognizes one individual whose extraordinary service deserves special recognition. This year, we are delighted to honor Jean Wellington with our 2016 Shelter Service Award.
If you’re at the Animal Shelter on a Monday afternoon, you’ll likely find Jean visiting her feline friends in one of the communal cat rooms. Caring for dozens of cats takes lots of housekeeping, but while scooping and sweeping, Jean always has time to visit and play with each of the cats living at the shelter.
As a long time island resident, Jean understands how the work of our animal shelter has changed the lives of so many homeless animals and the people who care for them and adopt them. To chronicle the ongoing story of Orcas APS, Jean has assumed the immense job of managing our historical records. Each week, Jean collects information about the shelter’s work, including newspaper articles, pet of the week stories, shelter manager updates, special event activities, and photographs. Jean devotes countless hours to carefully preserving and adding these documents to our historical collection, providing a permanent history of our work with animals.
Congratulations Jean! And thanks to all our outstanding volunteers and staff for your continued dedication to helping homeless animals.
On an ordinary Wednesday in August I headed to one of my favorite spots on Orcas Island, Orcas Island Animal Protection Society where my daughter Alina is a volunteer. I planned to pet the kitties, indulge in a chat with the hard-working staff who’ve become our friends, then head home with my girl to care for the pair of frisky young felines we had adopted only weeks before. Instead, I fell in love with a Chihuahua.
“Mom, you have to see the new dog,” Alina said. “I spent the afternoon with her. Come on.” She led the way towards the kennels to introduce me to her new friend.
Within minutes, I sat cross-legged on the floor staring into the sweet yet anxious brown eyes of Flower, a Chihuahua mix who’d been surrendered earlier in the week and was struggling to adjust. Over the next few days, we helped care for Flower. Two weeks later, she joined our family for good.
Weighing in on our recent adoptions, my son Evan says, “Adopting Berlioz, Toulouse, and Flower has made our home more cheerful. They all get along and entertain us and themselves all the time.” Alina adds, “I can’t imagine life without them!”
Here is Bernie’s story as told by Solianna:
My cat’s name is Bernie. He is our first family pet. I got him last winter solstice from the Orcas Island Animal Shelter. He was a feral cat found on Shaw Island. When we first got him he looked like a little owl. He was nervous and shy but still liked to cuddle. We kept him inside for the first three months. When we let him outside he was scared but curious. Now he likes being outside most of the time. Bernie is unusual in that he sleeps under the covers with me at night and seems to love it. Sometimes he hides under the bed and attacks our feet. The trick is to wear very thick socks. Now we have trouble imagining life without Bernie as he is one of the family.
Our adoption of Claire is indeed a happy tale! Having recently lost our beloved bulldog, Mabel, we were bereft of canine companionship. In a visit to the shelter, where my daughter enjoys socializing kittens, we were greeted at the door by Claire. She was a recent addition to the shelter and clearly a loving and gentle old girl. At fourteen and with a few health challenges, it seemed unlikely that she would be readily adopted, volunteers told us, but she was just too good for us to leave behind. After a few visits to the shelter to observe and interact with Claire, I asked Marsha if she would feel comfortable sending her home with us. Since then, Claire has been the best part of every day and we are so fortunate to have her as part of our family. She enjoys long naps, rides in the car, and playing tug with her favorite ball. She is an excellent snuggler, best friend to our cat, Celine Dion, and a loving companion. Thank you, OAPS, for facilitating so much happiness!
Anita Orne, Gordon Koenig & Eartha Kitty
Gordon is not a cat person. They love him, he does not love them. But he hates rats even more than he does not love cats. So when we heard there was a feral barn cat looking for a home he said, “ok…as long as it lives outside or in my shop, and eats lots of rats”.
April was 5 years old, an outdoor/shed cat. Gordon agreed to meet her…and I learned he has a preference for long haired cats. Fortunately, April has gorgeous long hair, so we took her home to give her a trial and a new name – Eartha Kitty.
Everyone at the Shelter was so helpful, and sent us on our way with everything a first time cat owner could possibly want or need – food, bowls, fully equipped litter box, catominium on loan while she adjusted to her new home, and advice. We started her in the garage, then moved the catominium into Gordon’s adjacent shop for a couple of days, as advised. Then we set her free. She pretty well disappeared. We decided she hated us, and she certainly hated the shop. Her food in the garage would be eaten but we would not see her for days. This was during our “trial period” and we thought “oh no, some trial. We’ve lost her already.” Meanwhile, Gordon had installed a cat door, a bed, everything to tempt her in to his shop (softie).
Marsha advised soft food as a treat, she was right – with that bribe Eartha would get nearer us, but still hated the shop. Until the weather changed. When the cooler days and nights arrived last fall, she moved in. Outside, we find evidence of her hunting prowess daily – she is doing her job well! And Gordon and Eartha spend many happy hours together inside his shop, she is truly his. Mr. I Don’t Like Cats…Gordon now admits, he just had never met the right cat. Now he has.
My daughter, Colleen, first fell in love with Ariel. Since she already had 3 dogs, she didn’t have the space for another. After meeting Ariel I knew why she was so irresistible to Colleen. She is an amazing little girl. She is smart, a very attentive listener, and is absolutely adorable. I knew she needed to be a part of our family.
We already had two large rescue dogs (one from the Orcas Animal Shelter) and I wasn’t sure getting a third would be the best situation for her or my other two. We went back and forth on whether or not it was a good idea.
But all reservations went out the door the moment we introduced Ariel, now named Raelyn, to our pack. It was clear that we would all make room for her. It’s hard not to love her perennially sunny disposition.
At nine months old, Raelyn is a goofy, smart, snuggly handful. She makes us laugh every day, and her siblings, Shelby and August, have welcomed her into the fold like she’s always been here.
We are so grateful to the Orcas Animal Shelter for bringing us two members of our family that we cannot image our lives without.
Becky, Kevan, Eddie & Chica Rayne
Little Miss Sunshine showed up in February and is bringing us laughs, entertainment, and cuddles every day. For a little pooch our Chica Chihuahua is quite the character!
She is a true sun lover – if you can’t find her you need just look to the nearest ray of sunshine and you’ll probably find her curled up.
She and our rescue Pomeranian Eddie get along famously, so much so, that you forget that she’s half his size. They like to vie for the same toy or ball and since she can run like the wind she usually comes out ahead with the toy…which she dashes over to place on the couch in what she considers her safe zone.
Initially I was thinking that we needed a second dog to be a companion to Eddie, who is essentially blind. Eddie’s Mexican Hairless sister Sylvie had died the previous March and she left a very big hole in our home. Not too long after Chica arrived I realized how much I needed her little presence to help me get over the loss of Sylvie. What a sweet way to get over the grief of a lost four legged family member.
Thanks to the Orcas Animal Protection Society our family is complete again!