October 26th 2008 4:53 pm
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It was a dark and foggy night, deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. The ground was soggy, the air was crisp and the sounds of owls hooting were all around. I wondered to myself, "Where in the world am I. Sure didn't look like this during the day."
I had gone camping that weekend with Mommy and Daddy. I needed to relieve myself during the night, but I wandered a little too far from camp. Looking all around me, I didn't know one tree from another, and none of them smelled familiar from my adventures earlier in the day. The sounds of the owls were getting further and further apart - signs there could be danger about.
Then, suddenly I heard a soft wimper, coming from my right. "Who's there," I whispered.
Nothing. I began walking a little further. More wimpers.
I turned to my right and began slowly walking toward a hollow, dead tree. "The wimpering is coming from in here," I thought.
As I got closer to the tree I noticed that deep inside was a frightened little puppy. She wimpered and wimpered for me to help her. "What is wrong my little friend?" I asked.
"That big meany took my chewy," she sobbed.
"What big meany?" I asked, becoming a little frightened myself.
"He was tall, hairy, and had HUGE teeth!"
Oh know, I was sure in a pickle now. Mommy would sure wake up soon not having my warm body to keep her cozy. She will be so worried that I am not there. But this little puppy, she needs my help. As I tried to console my new little friend I began hearing heavy breathing coming from outside of the tree.
"Its him," the puppy said, "he's back for more."
"For more.... what?" I asked.
"For more.... chewies of course."
"But we don't have any! What are we going to do?" I was in a panic now, he was just outside!
Somewhere, deep down inside me, I found some back stocked courage that I was saving to protect Mommy. I grabbed the little puppy and shielding her head I burst through the opening in the tree... to face the big mean beast.
Much to my surprise, the puppy's big mean beast was a measley, shivering, squirrel just getting ready for winter. Not wanting to make the poor puppy feel bad, I gave a good barking to that little squirrel. I told him to just keep to his own and not steal chewies from innocent little puppies, or next time I won't be so nice - I would take all of his winter storage of chewies and nuts and keep them for myself!
I ran and ran with that little puppy in my arms. The fog began to lift and camp was much easier to find. I rushed to my Mommy and Daddy with my new little friend. I told them my story and how my little friend needed our help, she needed a home. Mommy was so delighted to have another baby around. She hugged and kissed me and told me I was her brave protector!
Moments later we were all snuggled up again in the warmth of our sleeping bags. Sigh...... the life of a protector....... zzzzzzzz.... zzzzzzzzzzz....
September 29th 2008 7:28 pm
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Oh my special day has been great! Mommy and Daddy have been singan' to me all day! And snuggles - boy I didn't know there were that many out there! And to make it all better, I got lotsa rosies and pawmail from my pals! Things are really looking up.... and Mommy even gave me a KONG FULL OF PEANUT BUTTER.... for dinner! Gotta love that lady!
Thanks for the birthday wishes!
October 10th 2007 11:42 am
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Dogs, cats and computers
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
BY MARY ANN ALBRIGHT, Columbian staff writer
Devoted pet owners are always looking for a captive audience to listen to anecdotes and page through photo albums chronicling just why their cats and dogs are the world's greatest.
Through Dogster.com and Catster.com, animal aficionados worldwide are finding that audience and creating relationships with like-minded individuals.
Kristi Workman, 29, of Vancouver jokes that she's known among her co-workers and friends as "pug nutty, pugged or that crazy pug lady." But on Dogster, where she spends at least an hour a day updating her three pugs' pages, her obsession has earned her dogs hundreds of "pup pals." She even spent an extra $19.95 a year to upgrade from a free membership to DogsterPlus so she can post more pictures of her dogs, Penelope, Milton and Gabby, on their Web pages.
"Some people think I am truly nuts, and the moment I talk about Dogster or someone I know through Dogster, they just start smiling. They just don't understand that it is a great, safe, fun place to just let loose and meet new people through your dogs," said Workman, a contract specialist at Cascade Centers Inc. in Portland.
Workman uses the site as a creative outlet. She also views it as a safer alternative to popular social networking Web sites such as MySpace or Friendster, where members provide information about themselves. At Dogster, she writes from her dogs' perspectives.
That doesn't mean it's not a place where humans bond and ultimately learn about each other, though.
Meeting online buddies
Workman uses Dogster to discuss breed-specific issues with other pug owners. The friendships have developed to the point where she's gone to dog parks in Portland and as far away as Seattle to rendezvous with online buddies.
Giving pet owners a new way to make connections is what inspired Ted Rheingold to found Dogster and its sister site, Catster, in 2004.
"It's a place to show off the love of your life, and it's a place to learn from other people," said Rheingold, a 37 year old who lives in San Francisco, Calif. The networks give pet owners opportunities to share everything from tips to personal tragedies.
Workman created a memorial page for her deceased cat, Macie Mae Kitten, on Catster.
"It is nice to keep their page active. Other members will send little notes or (virtual) presents to them, and it really cheers you up. Dogster and Catster members are very strong and supportive when it comes to a death of a pet," Workman said.
That same sense of camaraderie helped inspire Vancouver dog lover Kelly Young to join in the search for a stolen pooch whose owner was active on Dogster. Last spring Young, 39, learned about the plight of Teddi Sue, a Chihuahua mix from Eugene, and sprung into action.
Teddi Sue's owner briefly left her in the car while on a trip to Auburn, and the vehicle was stolen with the dog inside. Young and other Dogster members contacted family and friends in the Seattle area and told them to be on the lookout for Teddi Sue. Eventually the dog was found and returned to her owner.
"That kind of made me a believer, that (Dogster) wasn't as hokey as you think," said Young, an executive assistant at Oregon Health & Science University with four dogs listed on the site.
Not all the interaction on the site is supportive.
While Dogster members can be generous, some are competitive, Young said.
Many owners, such as Young and Workman, will accept any request to be pup pals. Others are more discriminating. It stings when your request to be pals goes unanswered or gets rejected, Workman said.
"Why wouldn't everyone want to be friends with my perfect, cute pugs?" she mused.
The site encourages a little friendly competition. It gives members icons to declare their affection for another member's pet. For dogs, it's bones. For cats, it's fish. The bones and fish eventually expire, forcing members to continually update their declarations of friendship. "Bones come and go pretty fast, so it is an ongoing joke that when your bone count gets low, then you make a post on the message board saying that you are starving and you need more treats. Other dogs just rush over and give more bones," Workman said.
Zealies are another way of letting Dogster or Catster members know you're admiring their pet. Zealies are a virtual currency. A zealie buys one rosette, which is a rotating icon such as an apple, heart or blue ribbon that disappears after one month. A yellow star costs five zealies, but it lasts forever.
Although they're virtual treats, stars and rosettes are real gifts. Members receive some complimentary zealies, but additional ones are available for purchase.
Zealie packages range from 20 for $5 to 500 for $100. Workman hasn't bought any zealies, but Young purchased $20 worth to dole out to pup pals. She's happy to give out stars and rosettes to other dogs, since she knows how good it feels when Otis, a wire fox terrier, and her other dogs receive treats.
"It starts as a novelty, but then your dog becomes popular. Otis has this little fan following," Young said.
By the numbers
- 329,916 dogs on Dogster.com .
- 298 Vancouver dogs on Dogster.com.
- 2,195 dogs named Lucy (most popular female name).
- 2,225 dogs named Buddy (most popular male name).
- 137,471 cats on Catster.com .
- 166 Vancouver cats on Catster.com .
- 609 cats named Chloe (most popular female name).
- 577 cats named Tigger (most popular male name).
Sources: Dogster.com and Catster.com . Numbers current as of late last week.
Mary Ann Albright can be reached at 360-759-8019 or firstname.lastname@example.org