351 posts categorized in "Cats & Dogs"

By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

Her eyes draw you in. The expressions she has; hopeful but weary, happy but nervous. It’s mostly the hopeful and happy part of her that makes you instantly like her. Once she knows you've seen her, her tail begins to wag. Not a small wag, a wide sweeping side-to-side wag that makes all of her little body sway back and forth almost knocking her over. 

Betty Blue2

This is Betty Blue. She’s 6 years old—we estimate—and, despite every scar that marks her coat, she keeps putting her faith in humans.

It’s the scar that surrounds her muzzle that you notice first. That one is a deep scar that crosses her snout, then divides down both of her cheeks. That’s the puzzling one, the one that breaks your heart when you imagine how it could be that no one noticed her pain.

Once you step up to Betty Blue—and how can you not with that clumsy wag of hers—that’s when you see the real damage of human unkindness.

On her back, starting between her shoulder blades and slicing right down her spine, is a scar so thick and wide that you have to believe someone, anyone with a heart, saw that she was in need. 

Surprisingly, no one did. Because that’s not what saved her.

You see, Betty Blue is who saved Betty Blue. To be specific she saved her puppies but, in doing so, she saved herself too.

Betty Blue is from northern California and, after giving birth to a litter of pups in a field alongside a canal, she reached out to strangers for help. When a group of workers gathered nearby, she bounded towards them, urging them to help her with the babies she had lovingly kept safe.

The workers surmised that the birth had recently occurred, yet who knows how many days she waited for help?

Inspired by her motherly instinct to save her little ones, the workers scooped up the vulnerable pups and Betty Blue and got the whole family to a local shelter. Heroes for heroes as they say. Problem was, the shelter didn’t have room for a grown mom dog and her litter of pups.

They did, however, have a partner in the shelter world and that partner was PAWS.

“As soon as we knew she was on her way, we started reaching out to our community to help,” explained Kay Joubert, Director of Companion Animal Services. “Our shelter staff prepared for her arrival and our Foster Care team contacted their emergency foster homes in anticipation of the puppies’ needs.”

For their car ride north, Betty Blue and her puppies were wrapped up and safely crated with warm blankets, and given lots of food and water.

That’s when new troubles began. Busted tires, engine problems, inclement weather, and road closures plagued their trip. Through it all, Betty Blue kept nursing her defenseless little ones every leg of the tumultuous journey.

“We knew they were having some problems along the way, but we were ready for Betty Blue and her family,” Kay added.

2015-03-06 15.14.36

After 18 grueling hours, Betty Blue and her puppies met the PAWS volunteer transport team in Washington State. Her babies—by then weaned—were received in PAWS Foster Care and sent to homes where they could grow stronger, able and ready for lives with new families.

Betty Blue herself was hurried into PAWS' veterinary clinic for a check over.

“With everything she had been through, she was remarkably healthy.” Kay explained. “The scars on her body had healed and left marks only she knows the source of and, with any luck, will soon forget.”

While her healthy puppies thrive in the safe homes of loving foster parents, Betty Blue rests up and recovers. Her sad, scary days are now behind her.

She doesn't have to go it alone any more, now she has a team of friends looking out for her just like she looked out for her pups.

At PAWS, little Betty Blue wins over every animal caretaker she meets. That wiggly-waggle of a tail, those expressive eyes and that hope she has is contagious.

She reminds you that, despite what you’ve been through, it’s the future that matters the most.

For Betty Blue, we can’t wait to see who will come along and make her future as bright as her hopeful eyes. 

Are you just the person to give Betty Blue her forever home? Find out more about her and all the other companion animals we champion here.

Would you like to join the ranks of our PAWS Foster Program? It's for anyone who has the home and an open heart for animals in need. Find out about our next orientation class here.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Adopted by Estelle and her husband back in April 2013, the once-fearful Maki has blossomed into a playful cuddle bug. We caught up with Estelle recently and she gave us this wonderful update on life since becoming a PAWS parent!


What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
My husband and I wanted to give a forever home to a shelter cat and specifically, we wanted to adopt a "less adoptable" adult cat.

We adopted from PAWS because we’ve made donations in the past and are avid followers of this local non-profit.

What was it that most attracted you to Maki?
Maki needed very specific living conditions: the only pet, in a home without children with a predictable environment. She was a perfect match for our life choice.

The fact that Maki wasn't cooperative during the visit didn't stop us from wanting to adopt her. If anything, it made us want to take care of her even more. I knew that with time, her and I would become best friends.

How would you describe her personality?
Maki is a gentle little cuddle bug at heart, she loves to be held and be kissed behind her ears and, now that we’ve won her heart, she sleeps by our side every night.

She loves to play hide and seek, loves to pounce, and loves to place her feather toys all around the house for us. She’s a little kitten at heart, so playful!


How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
I’m amazed at how accurately PAWS outlined her personality and what was best for her. 

Our success was a combination of what we had to offer and PAWS’ dedication in finding the right homes for the pets waiting for adoption. 

Tell us about your first journey home and how Maki settled in.
Maki was stressed from all the changes that had happened in her kitty life in such a short time, and she was very scared initially. Soon after arriving home, however, her instincts took over and she went in all the rooms to explore and smell.

All in all, it took about a year for Maki to adapt to her new home. It was hard for her to trust that this change in her life was beneficial to her.

We learned to be patient and gentle with her and let her decide when she’d had enough interaction. Hissing, biting, hiding became less and less frequent and she gradually became more and more confident and relaxed.

What have you experienced together since Maki came home?
Maki and I are very attached to one another. When I am home, she follows me around everywhere! She thinks my husband and I are big kitties and she loves to play tag with us. She is of course better at it than me. We also race each other up the stairs but once again, she always wins!

Our living room is her playground and we often watch the squirrels and birds out the window together. She loves to wake my husband up in the morning by walking all over him!

How has Maki changed your life?
Maki has taught me to let go and relax; because she can sense stress, it was important that we learned to be attentive to our levels of stress in our interactions with her.

Maki also taught me to never give up. I had times where I thought that Maki would never open up to us, but I never stopped wanting to be her human friend. I am glad I was patient with her and let her adopt us at her own pace.

My husband mentioned that, when she hears my car pull up in the driveway, she runs to the door meowing and when I open it, all I see my little furry girl with her tail up, ready to be picked up for a snuggle. This moment always brightens my day.

She taught me that trust from a furry friend is a precious gift, earned from a real connection heart to heart. I love her to pieces.


Any advice for people considering adopting a cat?
I think that the key to a successful adoption is to assess and understand the needs of the cat you want to adopt and make sure that your home offers the best conditions to raise a happy cat.

Don't be discouraged by the bumps on the road helping your feline friend adapt to her new home. It can take years for an adult cat to reach true happiness. Let your kitty build a relationship with you. Trust her to bond with you and the day she will, it will be for life!

If you come across behavioral issues, don't stay alone with your questions and concerns, you can find great support and advice in so many places: PAWS, for instance, has a behaviorist and variety of online resources. Above all, keep the faith—very simple changes can turn a scared kitty into a happy feline.

Finally, when you adopt an adult cat, unlearn all your assumptions and start over with that special little friend that you brought home! Praise and reward verbally and with treats—just like dogs, cats love to please too!

Estelle—we're so very thankful that Maki found you and your husband! Your kindness, patience, honesty and encouragement will be an inspiration to many other families looking to adopt. Wishing you all many play-filled years ahead!

Find your Maki todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

If you’ve ever spent an hour in an animal shelter, you can attest that the smiling, happy faces eager to greet you are the ones you notice first. It’s all so very human of us to be drawn to the strangers who are just happy to meet us. Who can blame anyone? We all just want to be liked.


But not every personality is excited for new people.

It happens, from time to time, that a companion animal in our care just needs some get-to-know you time before their true personality comes shining through. Right now, Rambo is that guy.

Rambo holds a lot of magic that he just won’t reveal to strangers. We’ve talked to him about holding back his magnificence, but being Rambo, he refuses to listen.

What we’ve now learned about Rambo—since he began his stay with PAWS back in July of last year—is that he’s an enigma and he likes it that way.

He pretends like he’s content, but we know he wants his own home and his own special someone who can see his awesome.

We know this because every day we watch Rambo begrudgingly suffer through the many curious cat adopters who are drawn to PAWS Cat City.

Some meet him with cooing enthusiasm, a decidedly unpleasant greeting for our Rambo. He prefers to set the tone of interactions, and he usually chooses the 'off' button.

He loves to play, but he prefers to decide when, what toy and for how long the play will last. He doesn’t take kindly to strangers making suggestions.

We know that he wants his own home because we end each night at PAWS Cat City watching him lumber his fluffy black and white-ness from his own private cat condo to his overnight room.

There, he settles in for yet another night of his over 6 months stay knowing that, tomorrow, he starts it all again.

You can see in his eyes that he finds the task of pretending to be interested in strangers a burden of his current circumstance. We here at PAWS have tried to take the burden off of Rambo.

We’ve highlighted him on Warm 106.9’s Wet Nose Wednesday (watch his moment in the spotlight below), we’ve made him a featured pet, and we’ve created #RescueRambo then splashed his hashtag and pictures across our social media.

Can't see the video embedded above? Click here to watch it on YouTube.

Still, his perfect match eludes us.

So we thought it was time to reveal a secret. Like most grumbly grumplepants, Rambo’s mysteries aren’t that mysterious at all. “My favorite thing about Rambo is how his eyes light up when he sees me coming and he runs to the door to greet me,” explained Steph Renaud, our resident cat aficionado and PAWS Cat City Supervisor. “What he lacks in first impressions, he makes up for in his ability to bond, and his intelligence.”


It seems fitting that, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, we reveal the truth about our biggest-hearted lovebug. 

Forgive us, Rambo, for telling the world what we know to be true about you. He may have a big coat of the fluffiest of fluffy black and white fur, but we think his heart is twice that size.

Interested in Rambo? A little warning, he’s a slow slow get-to-know, so only those with high levels of delayed gratification need apply.

We can promise you this—the big payoff of Rambo’s heart leaping at your arrival home is worth every second of patience.

Could you #RescueRambo and be his one and only? Check out his official profile here and come on down to PAWS Cat City today!

Read about the adoption process at PAWS.
Help us continue providing a safe haven for companion animals in need. Donate now.
Meet all our current companions patiently waiting for forever homes.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Since they first met in October 2011, Laura and PAWS alumnus Daisy (now Boomer) have been inseparable, and we're hugely thankful that this perfect match came to be. We recently caught up with Laura to find out how life has been since they headed home from PAWS.


What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
It was never a question for me to adopt from a shelter. I know there are a lot of different opinions on this, but for me it just seemed like the right thing to do.

How did you first find out about Boomer?
My friend was working for PAWS at the time and helping me navigate the adoption process. I came into PAWS one night for the second or third time, with one dog in particular in mind that I was pretty certain I was going to adopt that day. PAWS even 'held' the dog for me for a few hours. But I was a little late and when I arrived at the shelter after work, that dog was being adopted by another family.

I was pretty bummed, but my friend told me that dog had a sister who happened to be visiting that night from her foster home, and took me back to met her. It was Boomer, known as 'Daisy' at the time.

What was it that most attracted you to Boomer?
Honestly, she was a little funny looking and overweight and not feeling well, and just so quiet and sweet. It was love at first sight. I was really certain about what kind of dog I was looking for and she met all my requirements!

How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
It was really great! I had met other dogs up for adoption while I was looking through a couple other private foster agencies, and I found them really hard to work with. When I got to PAWS, it was nice to be trusted and also see how well they take care of their shelter animals. I felt really good about supporting PAWS.


Tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went.
I came back to pick up Boomer a week or so later, since she needed to be spayed and recover from kennel cough before I could take her home. She was still on pain meds and healing from her surgery when I came in, so she was a little out of it.

My PAWS friend came with me for moral support, which was really awesome because I was pretty nervous. We stopped by the pet store for some basic supplies and then went home to settle in and watch the Seahawks game. She was immediately a BIG Seahawks fan and has been a loyal 12th Dog ever since. Go Hawks!

FYI, Boomer's namesake is Sharon Valerii from Battlestar Galactica—she's a scifi nerd just like me, so it was a natural fit.

What have you experienced together since Boomer came home?
Sometimes Boomer seems like a big dog trapped in a little dog's body. There's not much that she wouldn't do with me—snow camping, hiking, road trips, jogging (watch us on Instagram post-jog), paddle boarding, river tubing, sailing, visiting the farm, watching football—and she's a snuggling BOSS! You name it, she's usually game.


Other times I think she's part cat. She actually sleeps in a cat bed. I've never met a dog who could sleep so many hours of the day! It's not uncommon for me to have to drag her out of bed in the morning.

Every day is a funny moment with this one. But some of my favorites are watching her sunbathe which we call 'Rotisserie Boomer,' (example, right) and when she incessantly nibbles on the covers. I have not been able to figure that one out, but it's hilarious.

How has Boomer changed your life?
I can't even remember my life pre-Boomer. I honestly feel so lucky every day to have her in my life. Every morning I wake up to her burrowed under the covers and then she pops her head out to say hi and have her morning snuggles and play a little.

When we go camping together, she even burrows down to the bottom of my sleeping bag and stays there through the night. I don't even know how she breaths down there but she keeps me warm on cold nights in the woods, and that is definitely life-changing.

Any new year’s resolutions you’re working on together?
Boomer and I have both vowed to get more sleep in 2015. Sometimes the 23 hours she usually gets just doesn't cut it, ya know? The struggle is real.

Laura—thank you for this wonderful update, and for being an animal hero to Boomer. Wishing you both lots of sleep-filled days through 2015 and beyond!

Find your Boomer todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

As we celebrate the holiday season, we're thankful for the many hundreds of people who have given a PAWS cat or dog their new start in a loving, forever home. People like Gabrielle, who adopted Barnabas in March of this year. 

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter versus purchase from a breeder?
I've always felt very strongly about adopting animals as opposed to purchasing from a breeder. The two dogs that my family owned were, unfortunately, from backyard breeders. Both had severe health issues and it was very difficult for us all.

One of my favorite quotes sums me up well; 'Saving a dog may not change the world, but for that one dog its world changes forever.' I’ve had people tell me I'm not going to make a difference, but for every animal I help save, I make a difference to them. The difference between life and death. 

How did you first hear about Barnabas?
My friend was looking to adopt a dog. She asked me to help look online, and I stumbled across this handsome Pit Bull type dog. I had just lost my previous dog, an 11 year old 170lbs Saint Bernard, to bone cancer. He was the ‘man of the house’ so to speak, and it just seemed incomplete without that once he passed on. The timing was perfect.

Can't see Barnabas playing with his toy? Try watching on YouTube instead.

What was it that most attracted you to him?
I adore Pit Bull type dogs. They have so much love to give, and they get so much hate in return. At first, the thing that attracted me to him was his looks. A solid, but kind faced dog.

When I met him, he was aloof. The volunteer told me that Barnabas had had a lot of visitors, but none clicked. I understood that he didn’t think this meet and greet was going to lead anywhere. It was hailing, he was cold and just wanted to go inside.

When the rest of my family came back that afternoon to finalize his adoption, the look in Barnabas’ eyes when he saw we came back was the saddest and yet most touching thing I had ever saw. He didn’t think I was coming back. I did.

Tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went.
Barnabas loves car rides, but the journey home was a bit much for him. He clung to me like velcro, I had to sit in the back seat because he was trying to climb up to the front.

Once we got home, he sniffed around a bit and then climbed on his dog bed and slept the whole night. I live right next to a large expanse of woodland area, so I took him for a walk the next morning.

It honestly didn’t take Barnabas very long to settle in. He caught on to the routine very quickly; walks in the morning, followed by breakfast at 8, then a food coma nap, a lunchtime walk, stuffed Kong in the kennel, training and playtime in the afternoon, dinner at 7, bedtime.

I learned that Barnabas does not like kennels. They scare him, so my vet prescribed some anxiety tincture for him to help with that. That has been our largest hurdle. Training has been a breeze, he’s a social butterfly, and welcomes all that come through my door. We are currently working with a Positive Reinforcement trainer to help with his anxiety toward the kennel.

Does Barnabas have any fur friends at home? 
I have Lola, rescued from Seattle Humane Society in August 2012 when she was just 8 weeks old. I’m convinced that her energy could power an entire house, and she is extremely toy and food motivated.

I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about the introduction. Barnabas is an older fellow and Lola is a bit rude when it comes to greeting other dogs. She loves them, she just never learned how to greet them in a polite manner.

The introduction surpassed all of my expectations, in the best way!


Lola didn’t rush at Barnabas, and Barnabas respected Lola’s space when she didn’t want to play. It’s like they knew this was the breaking point, if either dog didn’t get along it wasn’t meant to be.

Well, it sure was meant to be because they act like lovestruck teenagers. Barnabas will seek her out just to lay his head on her shoulder. Lola who, before she met Barnabas, was the world’s worst cuddle and introvert, actually enjoys Barnabas cuddling with her. 

What have you experienced together since Barnabas came home?
Barnabas snores louder than a bear in hibernation. I swear one of these days he’ll shake the house down!

He knows the word ‘Bath’ and if he hears it he'll promptly hide under my bed. I am currently desensitizing him toward the bathroom. We have ‘parties’ in there, where he gets lots of praise and treats, sometimes even a stuffed Kong. That seems to be helping quite a bit.

I have a young nephew who sometimes comes over, and Barnabas is in love. His paperwork said that he lived with a 1 year old toddler, which is around how old my nephew is. Barnabas will groom him, and share his toys with him.

He hates water, and looks like a small hippopotamus when he swims. If Lola, who loves water more than life, jumps in the lake Barnabas will pace and bark until she comes back to shore. He’ll groom her and won’t let her out of his sight after that.

Barnabas loves tortilla chips. He is usually an extremely polite dog, he won’t stare at you while you’re eating, if you leave food on the ground he won’t touch it, but if you have tortilla chips in your hand you better watch out! The first thing to come is the drool. It’s like someone attached a waterfall to his lips. Then comes the small, pitiful whines and the big brown eyes.

Can't see Barnabas taking a treat? Try watching him on YouTube instead.

How has Barnabas changed your life?
In so many ways! He taught me to never lose my patience. I never yell or raise my voice at the dogs, I am a strictly Positive Reinforcement dog trainer, but arguments between humans happen sometimes. These upset Barnabas so much that he’ll climb into my lap and groom me, like he's trying to calm me down. He'll stay there until the argument has passed.

He taught me that no matter how ‘scary’ one looks, a kind heart almost always wins people over. He also taught me that some people are too afraid to see past the intimidating looks, and that that is okay. They aren’t ready. That's just fear. He taught me that cuddles fix everything, especially when you get to cuddle with your two best doggy friends.


How will you celebrate the holidays?
Lola and Barnabas will get a dog friendly but festive dinner, and have gifts to open. Lola unwraps her gifts herself, I'm curious to see if Barnabas will do the same! 

What’s going to be in Barnabas’s Christmas stocking this year?
It's a tradition in my family to hang stockings for everyone. Yes, everyone! I have a stocking made for Lola, and am in the process of sewing Barnabas'.

We stock them with cookies from our local pet shop (the only local one that doesn't sell puppies, I don't want to support that!), and toys.

Barnabas will be getting a dog tag with his name and information on it, because he lost his other one on a hike. Lola is getting a pack of kong squeak tennis balls, her absolute favorite.

Thank you for being an animal hero to Barnabas (and Lola!) Gabrielle—wishing you and all our wonderful adopters a very Happy Holidays, and lots of fun adventures in the years to come!

Find your Barnabas todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we're thankful for all the wonderful people who visit PAWS with adoption in mind, and give our adorable adoptables a second chance at life—including Steph, who came into Summer's life in September 2013. 

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
My family always got our pets from shelters so, from a very young age, I learned the importance of adopting animals in need rather than buying them from breeders.

Summer 2

How did you first find out about Summer?
I found her on the PAWS website. I loved her description and thought she'd be a perfect fit for me.

Summer was the name she came with and it seems to fit her so well. She answers to her name and even comes when we call her.

What was it that most attracted you to her?
I first fell in love with her look. She's a largish girl, half fluff, with a very pretty coat and face. Summer also has the personality I wanted in a cat; mellow, people loving, cuddle bug, and talkative.

The way she was described online was fairly spot on, which was very helpful to me in choosing between the options I had.

How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
A member of staff had had a lot of one on one time with Summer so I was able to chat with her to get more info about the kitty I was taking home.

Her previous owner had also filled out a long survey detailing a lot of information about her, so I was able to learn a lot about her that I couldn't see while she was in the shelter.

The meet and greet rooms were nice for getting a little time with the cats one on one. Checking out the colony rooms was fun too.

Briefly tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went. 
Summer was in her little cardboard kitty box and was very quiet. She would put her little paw out of one of the holes to reach out and touch me in the car. When I got home I had my bathroom all set up for her to spend her first few days settling in. I opened up the box and she started to purr, and gave me a dainty little mew.

Summer hung out in a hooded cat bed for a bit. Since she was so relaxed I decided to open the door and let her explore if she wanted. It wasn't long before she cuddled with me on the couch, then flopped on the floor on her back with her white tummy all exposed. It certainly didn't take long for her to get comfortable!

What have you experienced together since Summer became a part of your family?
We actually moved across the country together this summer, as I got into graduate school in North Carolina.

Summer 3

Five days in the car may have been rough with any other pet, but Summer did it like a champ! It took until day 3 for her to decide she was done with it and start yelling at us to go home (see picture below)!


I've also discovered she's not a very good huntress. I told her that since the new apartment had a pet rent of $10 each month she would need to kill some of the bugs we were finding in the house. The south is full of bugs.

Well, she tried, but she prefers to find the bug and cry while sitting next to it until I come over and squish it.

How has Summer changed your life?
She's given me a greater appreciation for older cats. When I was choosing between her and other potential cats, several people told me it was foolish to get an older pet as I wouldn't have as much time with her as I would a younger pet.

If I'd listened to them, I wouldn't have gotten Summer and that would have been a shame. She is perfect for me and brings me so much joy.

Any Thanksgiving plans?
If she has her way, Summer will be eating all of the turkey!

Thanks for sharing your story Steph, and for being Summer's animal hero! 

Find your Summer todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

The Foster Care Program here at PAWS saves more than 1,600 animals every year and ensures that every dog and cat brought to us, no matter how small or in need, gets that second chance at life.

Emily and Ray

In this feature, we go behind the scenes with foster care volunteer Emily Garwood—who's been part of our dedicated team for seven years—and find out what she loves about being a foster mom for animals in need. 

What does your role involve?
I foster cats and kittens. I already have a cat and a dog (Ray, pictured with Emily opposite), so for me it's just adding one more to the mix and sharing my bathroom for a couple of weeks (that's where I home my foster animals for the most part).

PAWS provides all the medication and veterinary needs for the animal. I supply food, water, litter and love!

What made you decide to get involved at PAWS?
I moved to Seattle in September 2003 and didn't know a single person. I decided to find an organization to volunteer for, thinking that I would meet people that had some of the same interests as me. My love of animals drew me to PAWS.

Tell us some of your favorite things about fostering.
I love knowing that I had a part in helping an animal on their journey to finding a forever home. Getting to really spend time with the animals is an honor, and I love helping potential adopters get a better idea of the true personality of animal. They can be so different in a home setting, away from the shelter.

And kittens... how else can you have kittens as much as you want?!

What are some of the challenges involved in fostering?
Sometime bad things happen, an animal is really sick or a kitten doesn't make it without its mother. I cry but I always trust PAWS staff to make the right and humane decision. 

How do you feel when it’s time to give your foster furries back?
It's hard but I also know that if I keep this one, I can't help the next one.

What makes a good foster caregiver?
A big heart and lots of love. Also being realistic, knowing that you will fall in love with the animals you care for but you can't keep them all.

Wobbles-E-Appeal-Main-Image,-Oct-22-2014 Share one of your favorite foster animals.
Recently I fostered Wobbles (pictured right), a cat who came to PAWS with a broken pelvis that meant strict cage rest for about 2 months.

Knowing that I was able to help him to heal and be put up for adoption is an amazing feeling. I know someone will be able to look past his special needs and see the great cat he is.

What advice would you give to anyone considering fostering for PAWS?
Try it! It doesn't take a lot and you make a huge difference.

What do you do when you’re not fostering?
I'm a nanny full time for three children under 4. I love to cook, bake, read and travel, exploring new places and seeing new things.

Inspired by Emily? Join our Foster Care Team today.

No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us. Donate now.

Find out what happened to four orphaned puppies who were cared for by the Foster Care team this summer. 

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

This month we share the story of Ruka, whose adventure with Tracy and Andre began back in 2007 and has been non-stop ever since!  

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter versus purchase from a breeder?
Adopting from a shelter was an important one for us. It is heart breaking the reasons why so many people give up on their animals. With so many great animals, we knew there would be a match for us at a shelter.


What was it that most attracted you to Ruka?
We didn’t know about Ruka going into the shelter. We talked to PAWS staff about what we were looking for. A dog who was game to go places; to work, on vacation, to the beach, to the park, out and about, anywhere and everywhere. I used to play a game – “If I Had A Dog” – and would imagine all the fun stuff we’d do together. PAWS staff said Ruka was our boy.

When Ruka got out into the play area, he started to prance! We would throw a toy and he would run up and stop it from moving, then prance around the play yard! When we went up to him, he leaned into the affection. He has a big personality. His intake papers said he was “friendly, but somewhat hyper”. All true.

Is Ruka any particular breed?
PAWS called him an Australian Shepherd mix. We genetically tested him. If you believe there’s weight to those tests, he came back as 100% dog and a mutt. 1/8 Beauceron, 1/8 Golden Retreiver, 1/8 Corgi, 1/8 Pug, 1/8 Irish Setter, 3/8 unknown. So not a breed, just a dog.

How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
PAWS was a great experience for us. The staff really knew their animals, and animal behavior. The notes we read and the conversations we had about Ruka really described him. We were prepared for the friendly hyper pup we were bringing home.

Tell us about your first journey home and how you settled in together.
We were so unprepared! Ruka didn’t have a bowl or a bed or any toys… we had no idea when you adopt a dog from a shelter they can be ready to go home that day! He had a hectic first few hours driving all around Seattle buying supplies.

By the time we got him home he was pretty nervous, and started to tip things over – his water bowl, plants… anything that could tip, he tipped it. We got him into manners class fairly quickly, we knew it would be really important for bonding. There was an adjustment period – we all had to learn to trust each other and get on the same page. To understand him and for him to understand us.

Share some of the highlights of life with Ruka.
Ruka has moved with us from Seattle to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to the Berkshires, back to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to Aspen, CO and now from Aspen to Vancouver, WA. He’s been to 29 of the contiguous United States and has swum in both oceans.

One of his most favorite activities is to eat. Anything. He will train for lettuce! He’s very food motivated which makes him easy to train. He also loves to play fetch. He didn’t use to like fetch. But sometime around age 4, he decided he loved it when we bought a Chuck It.

Can't see this video of Ruka playing fetch? Try watching it on YouTube.

We adopted Merlin, his dog sister, in 2011 from a shelter in Pennsylvania. She makes a great companion for fetch, reliably retrieving the ball while Ruka carries his around in his mouth and smashes it in his teeth.

We discovered Ruka could sing! And that his favorite song is Black Horse and a Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall. On the way home from the beach one Thanksgiving, probably a year or two after we adopted him, the song came on the radio and Ruka started to howl to the woo-hoos! It’s his jam.

How has Ruka changed your life?
Ruka makes everything a bit better: vacations, naps, coming home, and even the bad times. He has brought us to the present through his enthusiasm for training and life in general, and this has made both me and Andre more intentional, thoughtful and compassionate people. Ruka introduces us to people through his good natured friendliness and we’ve made friends in every neighborhood we’ve lived in. Both Andre and I are better people and more active because of Ruka.


Any fun things you’re looking forward to?
We just moved and are settling back in the Northwest. Every Thanksgiving we go to the Oregon coast and spend days on the beach throwing the ball for the dogs. About half the vacations we take are actually dog focused and we’re looking forward to exploring new places with our canine companions.

What would you say to anyone who isn’t sure whether to adopt a shelter dog?
Shelter dogs aren’t used cars or clothes. They’re living things. They deserve second chances and forever homes.

Breeders don’t ensure you know what you’re getting. Every dog, like every individual child you have or friend you make, is different. You work on the relationship together, no matter the origin.

There are a ton of statistics on animals in shelters or rescues needing homes. You can even find purebred dogs. We get asked a lot of the time what kind of dogs our two rescues are… and we say your guess is as good as ours, but they’re 100% love! And they’re 100% dog!

Tracy and Andre, thank you for sharing such a wonderful update. We wish you another seven years filled with happiness and adventures!

If, like Tracy, you found your perfect match (or matches!) at PAWS, we want to hear about it. Email us to be featured in PAWS Where Are They Now.

Help care for our companion animals as they wait for their second chancevolunteer.

Find your Ruka todayadopt.

Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to our adorable adoptables, it can mean the difference between a few days or a few months of patiently waiting for the perfect forever family to walk through our shelter door.


In this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, we talk to Angie McMeins (pictured right, with Sadie). She's one of several talented Web Team photographers who kindly give their time and expertise to capturing that perfect moment for each and every PAWS adoptable.

What led you to get involved at PAWS?
I’ve always wanted to work in animal rescue but never had the time when I had to work full time to support myself, a mortgage and three pets. I worked in corporate advertising for years and it was unrewarding work that didn’t fulfill my creative needs. Now, I’m lucky to have a supportive husband and the opportunity for a “second chance” in life.

When I looked at the volunteer opportunities at PAWS and saw I could be a photographer, the decision was a no brainer. I’ve combined my education and life experience with two of my passions: photography and animals!

Tell us some of your favorite things about your role at PAWS.
I absolutely love working with the animals, they are why we’re here. Even if I’m not feeling my best, I can come in and get some 'fur therapy' and go home with a smile. Photographing rescue animals is the most challenging (and the most rewarding) thing I’ve ever done. I've also made some great friends, I always feel at home when I’m at PAWS.

Talk us through a typical shift.
I work with shelter staff to compile a list of animals that need to be photographed, and then off I go! We have many adopters who drive a long way to meet our animals based on the photos we post online, so our focus is to get the best possible photos of each animal and help someone fall in love with them.

What do you do when you’re not at PAWS?
Besides photography, my passion is scuba diving. Anyone who thinks taking topside (what we divers call 'land') photos is difficult should try shooting underwater loaded down with dive gear, paying attention to dive time and depth, while chasing down a constantly moving fish not remotely interested in posing! As for work, I started a pet sitting business several years ago. I’m also an avid reader, and I love to cook, garden and spend time outdoors, usually with a camera in hand!


What are you hoping for when you come to take a photo of an animal available for adoption?
My hope is that my photos might help an animal get adopted more quickly. I hope for good lighting, a calm animal, dry ground (since I often lay down to get at eye level) and a place where I can shoot uninterrupted. However, hopes and reality often differ, so I just take it one animal at a time and try to get the best photos I can.

I want to minimize their stress, give them a break from the kennel, let them smell things and hopefully get a few good pictures. I know I’ve nailed a photo when I see it and my heart skips a beat. When that animal gets adopted quickly, it’s the best feeling in the world.

What are the specific challenges of photographing shelter companion animals?
Where do I start?! Besides bad weather and bad lighting, I’m dealing with confused, stressed animals who don’t understand why they’re in this strange, loud environment. They don’t know me, and a lot of them are scared of the camera.

I often try to spend time with them before I even try to take a picture; give them some treats, let them smell me, let them hear my voice, maybe give a scratch behind the ears if they’ll let me.

If I’m successful in winning their trust, then I start taking photos - hanging onto the leash with one hand and operating the camera with the other, all while figuring out how to get them to look at me, to stop licking the lens, to stop stealing hot dogs out of my treat bag, to stop trying to chase that squirrel! 

Take Jack (pictured right) for example. In typical beagle fashion, he was far more interested in treats than in being cooperative for the camera. Taking photos of him was a challenge as he was either in the process of barking or just finished barking with a funny look on his face. I finally did get a nice photo of his beautiful brown eyes and soft velvety ears.

Any funny moments to share?
My funniest PAWS moment actually involves kittens. I love going in the cat colony room at PAWS in Lynnwood since I can photograph several cats at once and get some kitty love at the same time. This particular day, I was trying to take photos of a cat that was more interested in smelling my shoes than looking at the camera, so I sat down on the floor to get a better angle.

All of the sudden, I feel a “thump” on my back. A kitten had jumped on me and was climbing up my back! As I was twisting to try to get the kitten, I felt a leg go down the back of my pants! So by this time, the first cat had stopped smelling my shoes and crawled in my lap, the climbing kitten had managed to crawl up my braid and was sitting on my head (memo to self, don’t wear long hair in a style that cats can climb!), and a third cat had its leg down my pants.

I just sat on the floor covered in cats and laughed until I cried. I’m really glad no one was around, I’m sure I would have ended up on YouTube!

As for taking good animal photos, here are Angie’s top tips:

Focus on the eyes: The eyes are the story, they show the animal's personality, their feelings, their soul. You don’t have to show the entire animal, focus on the essence of that animal and let their story speak for itself.

Get on their level: Don’t look down on them, lay down on the ground or the floor and see the world the way they do. Try some unique angles, maybe shooting below their nose or through a bush. This leads to much more interesting results.


Be patient: Photographing animals is challenging in any circumstance but animals in a shelter add a new dimension. Spend the time making them comfortable, have treats, love on them, let them walk around. I’ve spent an hour with one frightened hyperactive dog, and ended up getting fantastic photos. We are there to get the best photos we can, don’t rush the process.

What would you say to anyone interested in photography at PAWS?
Sign up for volunteer orientation now! We’re always looking for new talented people to join us. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur enthusiast or a pro, or what kind of equipment you use. All you need is a love for animals, a passion for photography and a heart of gold.

We also need handlers to assist our photographers in getting the animals out for photos, holding and positioning them, and giving treats or playing with the animal to get them to interact. Make a difference and join us in our mission of helping animals at PAWS find their forever homes.

Thanks for this fascinating insight into photography at PAWS Angie – we couldn’t do what we do without you and our wonderful Web Team!

Inspired by Angie? Become a PAWS volunteer today.
No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us. Donate now.
October is National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month and we're celebrating! Check out our adoption special for adult dogs 7yrs+.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

This week’s Adorable Adoptables arrived at PAWS around the same time, Helen as a stray and Winston as a transfer all the way from Palm Springs California! Now they’re both settled in (and Winston’s jet lag has worn off) it’s full steam ahead finding their forever families. 

As a temporary hangout, our colony lifestyle at PAWS Cat City suits most cats down to the ground. Lounging around in comfy beds, watching the world go by, being visited by lots of lovely humans offering cuddles, catnip and playtime… what could be better?! But for some, like Helen, it takes a little getting used to.


Helen was found by a member of the public and brought to PAWS in late August. A beautiful girl, we knew she was approximately six years old but didn’t have much more to go on in terms of her history.

Like all new arrivals we quickly set to work getting to know Helen, with staff and volunteers spending one-on-one time with her every day.

It’s fast become apparent that, although a little shy in her new surroundings, Helen is a play fiend – our Cat Charmer wand toy being a particular favorite. In fact, it’s hard to get it back once she’s caught it!

Helen likes her humans to be respectful and let her decide when it’s time for pets, paws on legs or rubbing your shins being the usual cues. When she’s given the go ahead, talk sweet to her and she'll often soft blink and even roll over onto her side.

In just a few weeks of coaxing her out of her shell, we know Helen will make the perfect companion for someone who has the time to help her adjust to their home life and the patience to cuddle at her own pace while she adjusts. If you’re that person or you know someone that is, contact our Cat City adoption team and arrange to meet Helen today!


Five year old Chihuahua mix Winston is an all-round champion companion in the making! Whether it’s curling up on the couch, hitting the trail, hanging out at the office or driving round town, he’s ready for any adventures you have in mind.

Rescued from an uncertain future in California, Winston arrived within days of Helen and quickly established himself as a staff favorite due to his unlimited capacity for cuddling.

He had some time out recently with foster mom Kara and, away from the kennel environment, proved himself to be a mellow well-mannered little guy – definitely a fan of the ladies and small dogs, though the jury’s still out on cats!

If you’re looking for a canine companion who’s already housetrained, is great on the leash, makes new friends easily and has lots of energy, Winston’s your man. Call us today at PAWS in Lynnwood, WA and arrange an adventure with him!

Meet all our current companions patiently waiting for forever homes.
Read about the adoption process at PAWS.
Found a pet? See how PAWS can help.
Help us continue providing a safe haven for companion animals in need. Donate now.