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Strangest Woods Animals
By Barkley (with help from Peggy Sigler Dey)


You might say it is time for me to move out.  I have lived with my folks for over a year from the time they took me in at a few days old, but the fact of the matter is it is just too interesting around here.  I might not be the most experienced raccoon this side of the lake, but I can’t imagine that is just as entertaining in other parts of the woods.  I talk over some of the circumstances with a few of my more “wild relations” that move through our property from time to time and they usually give me an incredulous look or shake their heads figuring I am either crazy or a great storyteller.  I find myself to be a fellow who likes to see both options without a commitment either way. I will tell you a true tale as I saw it that happened a couple weeks ago and leave you to your own sway.


My “Dad” comes firing in the front door after walking the dogs and calls to “Mom” and my boy to “come outside and take a walk,” leaving us all in the pitch as to what he needs them to come see. Mom grabs her 6-foot staff she keeps next to the front door as a greeter to people who might be “unwanted.” Dad spotting this evidence of instinct, (she knows him too well as to what he is likely leading her into), thinks for a second and grabs his, too.  This was too much to bear.  Now usually during the daytime and early evening I am stretched out on a branch maintaining my reign or eyeing the territory from under the garage door, (too bright while the sun is up for civilized folks after all), but this time I was socializing in the house with my multiple dog and cat cousins when the alarm went out.  I can’t resist such a temptation, the potential for excitement and uncontrolled chaos, and ambled on behind for what I hoped would be worth leaving my proximity to the refrigerator.  I was not to be disappointed.




Previous Column from Barkley >>


Jack the Shark (as told to Faye Rapoport DesPres) 

I know what you’re thinking.  Dah-duh, dah-duh, dah-duh.  You can hear the music inyour head.  As a matter of fact you’ve been hearing that music in your head since 1975 when the movie Jaws came out.  And if you weren’t alive back then, you probably heard that music on your DVD just before some big scary great white shark with a gaping jaw and gleaming white teeth jumped out of the water and grabbed someone.


Well, Our Place to Paws invited me here today so I could explain that we sharks really aren’t like that big bad guy you saw in the movie.  OK, I’ll admit great white sharks are kind of scary.  But did you know that they’re only one of more than 375 species of sharks in the ocean?  And not one of those species – not even the great white – considers human beings part of its natural diet. 


We sharks are actually pretty interesting creatures – we’ve been around for about 400 million years, and   one of our kind, the Portuguese shark, dives down more than 9,000 feet.  That’s more than 1.5 miles!  Here’s a cool fact from Sharkfacts.org that should make you feel better about us.  The chance of being killed by a shark is one in 300 million. The chance of being killed by airplane parts falling from the sky is one in 10 million.


If you’ve had a chance to get to that new aquarium, the one they built in your world, in that place called Atlanta, Georgia, USA, you might have seen the great big beautiful whale sharks, the ones that can grow to up to forty feet long. Even those big guys don’t eat people.  They mostly eat tiny plants and animals called plankton.


So why am I here?  I really wanted to tell you about a nice organization in your world called the Ocean Conservancy that is trying to help us sharks out.  They’re trying to put a stop to this awful thing called “finning.”  It’s really almost too horrible for me to tell you about.  It’s a very bad way that your kind comes after our kind so that some of you can eat something called…gulp…”shark fin soup.”  It’s really cruel, this “finning,” and it’s not only really sad, it’s badly affecting a lot of shark populations.  I’m hoping you’ll help out by maybe signing the Ocean Conservancy’s petition to stop this horrible practice.  You can find the petition here.  


Well, I hope you’ve learned a little bit about sharks today.  We’re really fascinating creatures, and I hope now you’ll maybe even get to like us.  Thanks for listening.




It's All About Me

By Duncan (with the help of Faye Rapoport DesPres)


I'm writing today because I need to set something straight.  I wanted to be an only cat, and I thought I made that clear. Obviously, someone got their signals crossed.  They had better uncross them, and fast.

Look at me -- I'm special, and I expect to be treated as such.


My fur is baby-soft, I'm undeniably handsome and I have these very unusual folded ears.  I'm quite sure I'm the only cat in the world who has them.  You might want to call me regal.  I would.  

I was supposed to be presented with a home that included:


A) My own bed, preferably with a golden headboard and very soft bedding

B) My own food bowl, cleaned daily and filled whenever I wish, only with the cat food and flavor of my choosing

C) The run of the house, with each room vacated if and when I choose to have it to myself

D) Easily accessible windows, with at least one speci al window shelf designed just for me -- and someone standing by to open said windows on warm days if I should choose to feel and smell the breeze

E) A direct view to a small tree with birds in it for my daily entertainment

F) Half the queen-size human bed reserved just for me -- all eight pounds of me, stretched in whatever direction I decide to stretch at any given hour of the day or night


Well, I could go on, but the list would be rather long, and it's a list you should have received before I arrived.  Instead, I was appalled to discover that I was expected to live with not just one other cat (and it makes me shiver just to meow that) but two!  I can almost accept the first one, because she arrived on the same day I did and could almost be considered my sister because she's two weeks younger -- and as a female I consider her somewhat inferior.  Sometimes it's fun to bat her on the head.  But what's with the black and white monster that was already installed in the house?  

No, I don't think so.  This is not going to work for me.  I don't care how often you tell me that he was here first -- that he's been here for 13 years, in fact, and that you love him and he has every right to be in a room or sleep on my bed or, for heaven's sake, SIT ON YOUR LAP. 

No, indeed.  I want that cat out.  OUT!  

Don't look at me that way.  I can tell you think it's not going to happen, especially since he's twice my size and just yawns whenever I try to give him trouble.

I have some work to do.  Stay tuned.


Have A Happy Cat Summer

By Daisy


Spring is almost over and soon most of us here on earth, in the northern hemisphere anyway, will be enjoying a nice, warm summer.  There’s something you people can do that will help your cats have more than that – they can have a great summer.

How, you might ask?  You’ve heard about how that French person Marie Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake?”  Well cats don’t want to eat cake (most of the time, anyway).  Most cats want to eat grass.  Nice green grass, the type that’s good for cats so look it up (pesticide and chemical free of course…I mean, really).  A lot of green plants are toxic to cats, so make sure you get this right.  I want cat-friendly grass!  Grass smells so good, and it tastes so good, and best of all, it does a nice cleaning job on your stomach.

One of the most frustrating things I have to deal with myself is the fact that my humans won’t let me eat grass.  They keep me safe by keeping me indoors – I’m cool with that as long as I have plenty of attention and toys and space to have a good time.  A nice window to sit in so I can watch the birds and smell the fresh air helps, too.  But come on – what’s the big deal about giving me some grass?

Every now and then I munch on some grass that is peeking through the screen door, or nibble on some that has been tracked inside.  You’d think it was the end of the universe the way my humans react.  Why?  All because I throw the grass back up.

But isn’t that what grass is for?  It smells and tastes yummy, you eat it, and then you throw it back up, along with anything in your stomach that was bugging you, like a big fat hair ball.  Then you feel great!  So what’s the big deal?  You act like it’s a tragedy that you have to clean up a little vomit.

Look, humans, the moral of the story is this:  If you want your cat to have a happy cat summer, “let them eat grass!” 


More From Daisy


Covu the Dog - MuttMatch.com?


First the Big Human Who Gives Me Food goes to a local tavern, but that doesn’t work. And then he asks his friends to set him up. No good. Then he takes the Internet plunge and tries one of those match-up sites. Crash. So what does he do after that? Well, actually, he curled up on the couch and watched “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and ate an entire tub of Rocky Road, but then he turned to me.


Yeah, yeah, I know, Why would the guy who ended my dating life (snip, snip) want to take advice from me? I’ve still got game, simple as that, and I am going to give you some of the pointers I gave him. Follow these simple rules and the girls will come to you!


1. Stop Licking Yourself in Public. We do it because we can, but we don’t have to. It kills me to see some of these sad cases, hind leg up in the air, cleaning themselves in front of everyone. The girls don’t dig that, man! They want a dog who shows up at the park with all itches scratched before they arrive.


2. Don’t Eat Poop. Yours or anyone else’s. There ain’t enough denta-bones in the world, man.


3. Fear the Claws. But don’t fear the cats. Interracial dating is not only accepted, you might learn something new. We are not are parents’ generation, we are our own litter! All cats are not aloof, fish-eating, post-scratchers despite what your grandfather may have told you. In fact, there’s this cute little Scottish Fold who’s been making eyes at me lately. Sigh…Fiona.


4. Chase the Ball, Return the Ball, Repeat. Boring! The ladies want a dog with fresh ideas for their dates. Believe me, you aren’t the first dog who has ever tried eating spaghetti out of the same bowl as her. Weak move, Romeo. Attend a pottery class and make matching water dishes, try tandem tail chasing, or take a lesson in opening canned food without opposable thumbs!


5. The First Move. Look, we’re all adults here. Eventually one of you is going to want to sniff the other one’s bum. That’s how we dogs roll. If she seems like a modern woman, let her take the first whiff; it doesn’t make you any less of a man, and it may work out to your advantage in the long run. Know what I’m saying?


Guest Columnist: Wolf

Hello, I’ve been given a special column this month because of the recent decision by the The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that states that wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies will no longer receive Endangered Species Act protections starting later this month.

You might not know much about me, but my guess is that you’ve seen drawings or paintings of me, and have heard, maybe on recordings or maybe out in the wilderness, the haunting sound of my noble howl.  I have a long and deep heritage on this land, and my kind are an important part of the natural ecosystem.  The wolf is the largest member of the canine family, and the ancestor to your best friend, the domestic dog.

In recent years wolves like me have been making a comeback in the Great Lakes, Northern Rockies and Southwestern United States.  That’s largely due to the protection we received from the Endangered Species Act.  With those protections gone, some states are already considering all-out war against us, and planning mass killings. Idaho's governor has already announced his intention to kill more than 80% of the wolves in that state, and they have already begun planning large scale wolf eradication efforts through hunting and aerial gunning.

There’s nothing I can tell you that will make you love or appreciate me and my kind, or convince you of our beauty and importance to the natural world.  I am hoping that these are things that you know in your mind, feel in your spirit and sense in your heart.

I am a proud creature, and far be it from me under normal circumstances to ask for help.  But I am asking for your help to save my species today.  Please visit the Defenders of Wildlife Web site page.

Learn more about me and find out what you can do to help save my species.  I want my kind to be around when your children, grandchildren, and great grand-children walk this earth, so that we can walk it in peace, and in nature, together.


Orson's Advice Column

colum3Dear Orson,

Which is more loyal, dogs or cats?

Submitted by John O., age 10, Jr. Lamb-Riding Rodeo Champ, San Antonio, Texas

Orson responds:

Ah dear boy, it’s an age old question that orson never tires of answering. No doubt you’ve been impressed by the skill and selfless courage displayed by your canine saviors as they divert the charging lamb after you fall. Courage in the face of danger. But is that “loyalty?”

Think of your sister (Orson knows you have a sister) Tara, and how her feline alarm clock

“Scripples” wakes her from her youthful sleep at precisely the same time each morning.

She’s never late for school because “Scripples” never misses a morning. Consistency and precision, never missing a day. But is that loyalty?


For years, people have looked to the “pack mentality” of dogs and the often “aloof” demeanor of cats in order to gain insight into the capacity for dedication possessed by these most beautiful and inspiring of creatures.

“What is going on in their minds?” people ask. “What’s going on in there?”

“What,” “What,” “What”, “Why” “Why” “Why,” they say.


Really my young lad, it’s simple (it’s really not THAT simple, but you’re 10, so it’s simple).

Food. He who possesses it, possesses the minds and hearts of adoring cats and dogs everywhere. Notice that each time “Darryl-The-Lamb-Buster-Springer Spaniel” saves your 4’8” hide, he gets a treat. Notice also that every day before heading off to her day of texting and gossip, Tara makes breakfast for precious “Scripples."

Do we love you, and would we be lost without you? Of course!

Just don’t forget dessert.

Take care, little cowboy, and don’t forget to keep an extra treat for “Darryl” in your pocket. You never know when you’re gonna find yourself starin’ down the barrel of a hungry rodeo lamb!

Chow for now,



More from Orson



Are the Hard Days Over?

by Franklin the Feral Cat (as told to Faye Rapoport DesPres)

Sometimes I can’t believe the life I’m living.  Everyday I wake up and think I must be in a dream.  I lift my head and see a big silo full of cat food and a fresh bowl of water, all set up in a covered place where I can be safe from bad weather.  There’s even a little house near the food that I think was put there for me, but I still don’t quite trust it.  The last time I walked through a little doorway like that, I ended up in a big steel trap.  That wasn’t the most pleasant experience.

It’s strange, though.  I don’t know exactly what happened after I got caught in the trap.  I was turning in circles, trying to get out, and then suddenly everything got dark.  For some reason, that calmed me down.  I couldn’t see the great outdoors and I stopped trying to claw my way back to it.  The rest is pretty fuzzy.  These big human creatures, a lot like the ones who usually scare me and chase me away, were talking and moving all around me.  I got this sense that I was lifted up in the air and then I heard an engine running nearby.  The next thing I knew I was in this place, and I couldn’t see the sky.  It was like the sun was close by, all around me.  There were humans again, and the rest just kind of goes dark after that.  I woke up what must have been some time  later, near some food and water, still in the trap, and then everything went dark and I heard the engine again.  Before I knew it, I was back where I started and the trap door was open.  I ran.

Ever since that day everything has changed for me.  I don’t feel like fighting with other cats anymore.  I don’t feel stressed out like I used to, and because I’m not fighting, all those gashes I had on my face have healed up (even though one of my lips looks a little funny from the scars).  Every day a human leaves a silo of food and water in the same place for me.  For the first time in my life, and it’s been a long five years, I never feel hungry.  It’s amazing.  My stomach doesn’t hurt.  I don’t have to wander all over the neighborhood looking for food in those big dumpsters behind restaurants.  I never liked that food, anyway (it was spicy, yuck).  I don’t have to walk a quarter of a mile to the river to get water.  I just lie in the sun in this yard near the food, and no one chases me away. 

Like I said, I must be in a dream.  I’ll keep you posted.

by Opus, our Night Life Columnist

You know, I never get tired of you people. You're worth getting up early in the evening for.  Not only do you throw out the very best bits of the food you eat (like the gizzards and bones and those oh, so lovely rotted bits of bread – yum!), but I reckon I can't find an easier source of amusement without getting into the fermented berries I've tucked away in my basement bed for the colder winter months ahead.  But, I am growin' weary of the nagging sense you people haven't learned a whole lot over your supposed "higher evolution."  I mean, what have you done over all that time?  I look through those hard, clear spaces you have on the outside of your wooden nests, to see you staring for long periods of both daylight and darkness at some sort of box with colorful, flat people and animals moving around on it.  I can only think it must be some way you relax to prepare for a long hibernation.  Only problem is you seem to use the box all times of daylight and darkness and even then you sleep during the best part of the darkness.

Anyway, my confusion aside, evidently that box has sucked out some of that evolution, (maybe you are fearin' getting too smart and have to balance your brain or somethin') as I am always getting' some questions from ya'll that make me pause. Here's my favorite: "Does your brain ever hurt from hanging upside down when you sleep?" 

Read the rest of the column. Click Here >>

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