Volunteer Spotlight: Stacie Nakashima

Volunteer Spotlight: Stacie Nakashima

Today, we bring you another story chronicling a wonderful Furry Friends volunteer. Meet Stacie Nakashima, a person’s whose passion in life is to care for others, regardless of whether they have paws or opposable thumbs. Stacie first learned about Furry Friends through an article in the Columbian showcasing the organization. She was already interested in finding new volunteer opportunities to give back to her community, so the article’s mention of our constant need for new volunteers was great timing.

A Cats Perspective when coming into Furry Friends

A Cats Perspective when coming into Furry Friends

A nice lady is taking me out of the carrier and I don’t know what she is looking for but she is looking EVERYWHERE! My ears, eyes, teeth, skin, and even my umm… well you get the picture. She wants me to take this medicine, it’s a pill. I think I heard her mention something about worms. That’s quite the assumption but I guess if it makes them feel better I will take it.

Tiger Lily finds her perfect home

Tiger Lily finds her perfect home

Beautiful Tiger Lily came to Furry Friends as an extremely introverted kitty.  This beautiful gray kitty with the marmalade dipped tail had a hard time adjusting to her new routine at the house.  So, we put her in her own cage and made her off limits to everyone except the feeding/cleaning crew and a couple of socializers.  Restricting her care to just a few people seemed to be what she needed. 

Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Nash

Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Nash

Chris Nash has been volunteering in some capacity with Furry friends for the last 10 years! She and her wife, Jean, started out as kitten fosters after being introduced to Furry friends by their neighbor, Kathy Pierce (another FF foster). After three foster fails (adopting their fosters) they realized that wasn’t their calling.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sal and Ku’uipo Alcaraz

Volunteer Spotlight: Sal and Ku’uipo Alcaraz

Sylvester (Sal) Alcaraz and his wife Ku’uipo have been volunteering with Furry friends for over two and a half years together on our Friday night shift at the shelter. While Sal originally started volunteering as a community service project it turned into a passion and he really shined quickly becoming the shift leader for his team. He always has wonderful things to say about the people he volunteers alongside.

Sal and Ku’uipo are continually looking for new ways to help Furry friends and are up for any challenge.

When asked what their favorite part of volunteering is Sal said, “The love and attention that I get from the cats and the peace and quiet I have when I’m in the house. As a stay-at-home father of a 15, 12, 11 and a 3 year old, anytime outside my house is a victory. I love my family very much but when I leave home, and I come to the Halfway House, those three hours that I spend with the cats pretty much helps me prepare for the following week to come. The love what I get from the cats helps me spread that same love to my family when I get back home.”

Ku’uipo said her favorite part of volunteering is, “Seeing how much we have helped the kitties grow and seeing them get their fur-ever homes.”

Sal and Ku’uipo currently care for four children, snakes, frogs, and a cat named Honu at home. They will also be adding to their pack welcoming two new kittens they rescued from a bad situation and brought to furry friends to get them the best care possible.

They truly are a special couple of people who give their best to ensure all the cats are getting the quality care, love, and attention that they deserve. They even made sure to get to the Halfway House to take care of the cats during the February snow storm weekend we had.

Sal said, “Some people want to know why I give back? Through forgiveness, being accountable for my own actions, and accepting life for what it is, I have learned through my past mistakes that it is better to bless those who give without remembering and receive without forgetting.” You can tell he is genuinely proud of what he does for our Furry friends because when he talks about volunteering he lights right up. He said it’s a blessing every time he gets to help.

Ku’uipo says she gives back, “Because it not only feels great to see what we are doing individually but as a non-profit organization Furry Friends has helped give kitties a second chance at life that they deserve and they never turn anyone away.” Her proudest moments are every time a cat she has had a hand in helping gets adopted.

This husband and wife duo make a bigger impact than they even know having helped approximately 350 cats along their journey at Furry friends. They are amazing, genuine people who have huge hearts. We appreciate them and also want to wish Sal a Happy Birthday!

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We would like to thank Jenn Hutchman for writing this spotlight. She has been volunteering with Furry Friends for a couple years and has been an amazing contribution to our team. She has fostered over 50 cats and kittens so far for Furry Friends, and not just the easy ones. She has fostered several bottle baby kittens that require feeding every two hours and has taken on some of the difficult medical cases like Monnie. She also is the lead person for our email/voice mail team, plays a significant role on our medical team and has done a number of other tasks including fundraising. For 2020 she put in about 570 volunteer hours for Furry Friends. We are so grateful for all she does.

Spotlight on Tricia and Sara

Spotlight on Tricia and Sara

We have a great medical team at Furry Friends and we appreciate all that they do for the cats in our care. Tricia Jones and Sara Thomson have both been volunteering with us for the last six months after responding to posts on social media looking for vet techs/assistants. They have dedicated almost every Sunday to the welfare of our current cats and cats coming into our care. 

Furry Friends kitty Linus is making progress

Furry Friends kitty Linus is making progress

Linus came to Furry Friends with his sister Trixie back in November, 2020. He was very skinny with a decreased appetite. Our veterinarians at Columbia River Veterinary Services examined him and recommended that he have a feeding tube since his liver seemed to be rapidly shutting down due to him not wanting to eat. When cats do not eat they can do serious damage inside their little bodies. Linus was diagnosed with feline hepatic lipidosis. When he stopped eating it forced his liver to convert his body fat into usable energy making fat build up in the cells of his liver. 

Monnie’s Journey

Monnie’s Journey

Feline stomatitis or Feline Chronic Gingivostomatitis (FCGS) is a rare condition affecting approximately 0.7-4% of cats. It is a chronic and very painful mouth tissue condition where the tissues/gums surrounding the teeth are very inflamed. The gums are usually bright red and bleed easily. Chewing and eating becomes a very painful experience for our feline friends. Cats that have this often lose weight, have bad breath, bleed & drool, and paw at their mouths. Currently it is not known what causes some cats to get FCGS but it is an over-reaction response by the immune system to bacteria in a cats mouth.
One cat that Furry Friends currently has in our care is Monnie and he has FCGS.

CRICKET’S SECRET

CRICKET’S SECRET

Beautiful two year old Cricket came to Furry Friends from her original owner who had to make a life changing move and couldn’t take Cricket with her.  The loss of her owner and because she hadn’t been around other cats since kittenhood was very hard on Cricket.  This poor girl reacted by hiding in a cubby in her enclosure in the blue room.  All we would ever see of her was her big round eyes at the back of her cubby.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Mystery and Shannon and Becky

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Mystery and Shannon and Becky

“I’ve adopted many kitties over the years,” Shannon says, “and the kitty we adopted from Furry Friends makes number 12.

“We changed her name from Amelia to Mystery and call her Mysty for short. We chose her because we wanted a female who gets along well with dogs. Our dog Benny had really been missing his last feline friend, and we fell in love with her cute little kitty face.

“When we brought her home, he was so excited! He started jumping around and kept wanting to sniff her, which scared her at first, and it took awhile for her to adjust.

“Now she’s very curious and playful. Anything becomes a kitty toy. Sometimes we play ‘kitty tag’, which is a lot of fun, and she especially enjoys playing ‘strings’ which involves boot laces and trying to get dressed in the morning! But I think the silliest thing she does is charge around the house at full speed. We call it ‘crazy kitty.’

“She’s also very lovable and faithfully follows us all around the house. She loves to snuggle and sometimes she even gives kisses. She has a cat tree in the window where she sleeps most of the time.

“We’re so happy to have Mystery in our lives.

“Thank you Furry Friends.”

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Furry Friends Fur-Ever Stories are compiled and written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.

Medical Director/Veterinarian Technician Wanted

Medical Director/Veterinarian Technician Wanted

After 21 years of operation, Furry Friends is ready to hire our first ever paid employee. The position will be a paid part-time Lead Vet Tech position. Please message information@furryfriendswa.org if interested.
Furry Friends Cat Shelter in Vancouver WA is looking for a self-motivated Medical Director skilled in managing a diverse team of medical volunteers and capable of providing high-quality medical care.  He or she must demonstrate an aptitude in shelter/clinical medicine.  The Medical Director will act as a lead shelter Veterinarian Technician and provide oversight to shelter medical operations and medical volunteers as well as establishing relationships within the veterinary community.  This is a paid position and reports to the Furry Friends Board of Directors.

Spotlight on Jenn Hutchman, Furry Friends Volunteer

Spotlight on Jenn Hutchman, Furry Friends Volunteer

Following the pattern of many Furry Friends volunteers, Jennifer, or Jenn Hutchman does a lot. Both inside and outside of Furry Friends, she keeps very busy. Yet, despite being an independent consultant for the marketing company Scentsy and running an online auction, she gives about thirty hours a week to Furry Friends. Its twenty-four hours a day, of course, when she is fostering kittens. No matter how busy she is, however, she steps into the Halfway House ready to chat and a smile to give.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Chomper and the Garvers

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Chomper and the Garvers

“Chomper was the seventh addition to our family,” Jaimie explains. “Since then, we’ve added two more kitties for a total of nine!

“Appropriately named for the way that she ‘chomps’ on everything, we naturally kept her original name. She even has her own Instagram account chomper.roo., while several of her nicknames include li’l Chomp, Chomperoo and Chomp Chomp.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Leo and the Shanmacs

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Leo and the Shanmacs

“We love Leo so much! He’s such a sweet kitty,” Jessica exclaims.

“My husband and I each grew up having cats in our families and I’ve always had cats as an adult. My 16-year-old kitty, Ellis, passed away right after we’d gotten a new kitten, Lilly. Since we ultimately wanted another cat for Lilly to play with and bond with, and I wanted a cuddly lap cat, we looked into Furry Friends.

“At Furry Friends, his name was Bobby, but I think his face looks like a lion’s face, so I changed his name to Leo. He seemed very sweet when I met him and it just felt right.

“His adjustment to living with us was gradual. He’s scared of new things, and Lilly was both scared and a little aggressive (growling and charging but no physical contact). We kept Leo in our bedroom/bathroom suite for over three weeks while letting the cats sniff at the doors and have supervised visits. Finally, they clicked and they’ve been playing and sleeping together ever since.

“Having Leo in our lives has made everything better! He’s still very sweet and always purrs when we pet him. We enjoy watching both cats play and it’s so cute seeing them sleep together.

“We also have two dogs – both of whom have always been around cats. Leo sniffs at them curiously when they’re lying down, but otherwise he avoids them. The male ignores both cats (he’s oblivious in general) while the female wants attention from them and is still trying to become friends with Leo.

“At first, Leo was hesitant to use the cat scratchers, so we’ve spent time working with him on that. What he loves, though, are those fishing pole toys, and not only can he run fast, he can jump really high.

“I was hoping he’d be a cuddly lap kitty, but I once filed my nails while he was lying on me, and it scared him so much that he wouldn’t get back on the couch again! So we’ve been working with him on that too.

“His silliest, most endearing habit is his incessant licking of anyone that gets within ‘tongue distance’ of him. Whenever you pet him, he’ll try to lick you. I’ve never had a cat try to clean me so much! He even tries to lick my feet while I’m at home trying to work!

“At night he loves sleeping with Lilly on their cat tower or under one particular shelf we have and on occasion, in a corner of our upstairs landing.”

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Furry Friends Fur-Ever Stories are compiled and written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Vicky and Sarah Fletcher

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Vicky and Sarah Fletcher

“I’ve always lived with cats,” says Sarah, “but Vicky is the first cat I’ve adopted with my boyfriend. Although her name was originally Gracie, we changed it to Vicky aka Thick Vick because she’s a big girl (20 pounds when adopted but 16 pounds now).

“My last adopted cat was 15 years old when he died and I was heartbroken from that loss. We decided I needed another cat and Vicky was so different from him, but still a bit older (7 years old) and my favorite blue/gray color. Despite being incredibly overweight, she was SO spunky and engaging. She had a big attitude and a tiny chirping meow. I usually prefer male cats due to their more relaxed personalities, but I decided it was time for a change.

“Her adjustment was gradual. She would briefly spend time with us each night but she was very skittish when it came to sudden movements and loud noises, including cars driving by when the windows were open. Within two weeks, she seemed to warm up, and as she got more comfortable, she continued to reveal new aspects of her personality.

“While my previous cat was a ‘mama’s boy’, Vicky’s independent streak has been a change of pace, yet it’s a nice fit because she’s always close by. She provides us with hours of entertainment due to her high energy and desire to play. She also enjoys spending time with my partner — something he also enjoys although he pretends he doesn’t!

“Since Vicky loves to play, we have various mice and ball toys scattered all over the floor, but she particularly loves a red fluff ball that she often carries in her mouth (when it’s not lost under furniture). She also loves playing with the laser and feathers on a stick. She’s very feisty and is always ready to attack things that move — in a playful way – including us. She’ll attack our arms and hands if we move them quickly across the couch or a blanket.

“A big favorite is our game of hide and chase. I chase her into a room, she collapses onto the floor and I rub her belly, then run out of the room and hide. She runs around until she finds me and the game repeats itself until we’re both tired! Despite her diet, she’s still incredibly chubby, and while it doesn’t impede her agility, she definitely gets out of breath and is quite a heavy breather. Occasionally we’ll hear her breathing, but not see her, and realize she’s resting somewhere close by.

“Vicky prefers being petted and cuddled on her own terms. She often cuddles in the late evenings right before bed and will lie in my lap or lie next to me while I work in the middle of the night.

“As for resting and sleeping, she has numerous choices – from one of her many cardboard scratching posts to the floor under our bed to her cat bed in the living room near us to the couch beside us.”

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Furry Friends Fur-Ever Stories are compiled and written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.

Colleen Finley-Furry Friends Volunteer Extraordinaire

Colleen Finley-Furry Friends Volunteer Extraordinaire

By Tina Starks

Colleen Figley is one of the best volunteers to share a shift with (In my biased opinion, being the one who volunteers with her on Sunday!). You can always count on her to give a lively air to the house and to laugh at your jokes or puns, however terrible they may be. Colleen is very often the first one in and the last one out on morning shift, busily cleaning the med room of all the stink and litter that its inhabitants have tossed onto the floor for about two hours.

Colleen first started volunteering five years ago. Upon hearing about Furry Friends from a neighbor, she promptly signed up and has volunteering with the Sunday morning Halfway House shift ever since. Her main task is to deep clean the med room. “To me, that should be the cleanest room in the house,” she explained. Considering its state when she leaves, it is indeed the most spick-and-span spot in the house. She tackles it with brooms, steam mops, and spray, scrubbing at pee that somehow ended up on the wall and rolling aside cages to find the weekly stash of toys that have fallen behind them. However, she is equally as aware of the kitties within as she is of the hair-bunnies and tumble-furs. She explains that the hardest part is to get the room really clean without freaking out cats who are already very frightened. “You’re already going in their space to sweep and scoop,” she points out. “Sometimes moving cages and running a noisy steam mop isn’t the kindest thing”. On those days, Colleen just cleans their “house” and stick to the perimeter for the rest of the room. The intakes certainly appreciate it! Colleen has also subbed on many other shifts and has “pretty much done all the different tasks.” She has can also add helping with the annual fund raiser and fairs to her Furry Friends resume.

Considering some of the gross stuff that Colleen has to clean up, she’s got to have a good reason, which she does, of course. “On the days when you think your life, all you have to do is look around and see how many people, and pets, can use someone to help,” she said. “Even if it’s just a simple thing like listening. It makes me feel more connected to the world”. Furthermore, she derives great satisfaction from being a part of caring for cats waiting for their new families. She tries to take the time to spend a few minutes with every cat, even though it’s never enough. “Some cats can’t ever get enough play time and attention, and it’s so hard when you have to move on!” she explained. Her proudest moments are when one of our “difficult” cats get adopted. Knowing you are part of the team that helped care for them, getting to know what they like and don’t like, and helping them become socialized enough to find their own family is the best feeling. A few examples she gave were Sheena, Charlie, Carlo and Bernie. “I’m just gutted that Bernie came back” Colleen admitted. “But she is better than she was.”

Until recently Colleen had three cats, Alice, Cooper and Dali. Alice and Cooper came from the Oregon Humane Society. Dali was found in some bushes on Fourth Plain. She was only about five weeks old and looked like she had been tossed there. At the beginning of September, a cat showed up in the yard who was very thin and clearly uncared for. They found he was chipped but the owners did not want to be contacted by anyone other than the chip vendor. “We tried everything to find his owners and they were contacted by the chip vendor and by Pet Smart, who inserted the chip, and never got a response” she explained. “We did find he was about seven months old. He has the markings of a Serengeti or Savannah; he’s quite handsome”. She says that bringing him into a house of older cats has been an adventure to say the least. “The first night we locked him on the catio and the next thing we knew he was out on the roof – hence his name, Roofus.” Hence, her three cats have turned to four!

Until recently Colleen worked in corporate governance and legal affairs. The company closed, so the unexpected “retirement” is taking some getting used to since she didn’t feel ready. “But I’m getting the hang of it,” she admitted. Along with Furry Friends, Colleen has been a Camp Fire Leader and a soccer coach, and volunteered for years at Toy & Joy Makers. They’re part of the Portland Fire Bureau, collecting and distributing toys for underprivileged families every Christmas. She loves to garden and I knit. For a time, she was a test knitter for a yarn company and one of her projects was included in one of their magazine advertisements.

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Thank you to Tina Starks for writing this spotlight on one of her co-volunteers. To find out more about becoming a Furry Friends volunteer, please visit our website at www.furryfriendswa.org.

 

Brandi Towner: New Executive Board Member

Brandi Towner: New Executive Board Member

Brandi Towner is the newest member of our Executive Committee. She has taken on the tasks of secretary, adoption councilor and intake liaison. She comes to us with management, accounting and business skills. She works full time as a realtor at Sundin Realty, Inc and wants to donate the rest of her time to help the kitties in our care.

Brandi says, “I have always enjoyed volunteering at various organizations and helping within the community throughout the years. My strong passion to help animals led me to Furry Friends. Now, I not only get to help clients find their dream homes; I also get to find forever homes for all the amazing cats.”

Furry Friends Board of Directors also called Executive Committee

We are very happy to welcome Brandi to our Executive Committee. The board is comprised of select volunteers who oversee the activities of Furry Friends. The members of the board are responsible for governing the organization, approving budgets, approving an organization’s policies and other similar tasks. Board members have an obligation of allegiance, care and duty to Furry Friends. We seek to fulfill our mission statement by providing advice and implementing long-term goals that will assist Furry Friends in planning for the future and creating the vision of what it will become.

 

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Opal and the Perrys

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Opal and the Perrys

“As a family, Opal is our third kitty,” explains Kristine. “And we kept her name since it suited her so well.

“We chose the little ‘gem’ because she was very mellow but also friendly, and because it seemed she would like to cuddle. She’s also a very beautiful kitty. Her beautiful green eyes against her white fur caught our attention immediately.

“We brought her home on Christmas Day and the boxes and wrapping paper scattered all over the house proved a bit overwhelming for her. We decided to keep her in one room so that she could get used to her new environment. Within minutes, she found a small hole in the bottom of the bed’s box spring, climbed inside, and didn’t come out for several hours. It took her almost a week to get used to the rest of the house although she’d still run away whenever one of us got too close. Thankfully, though, she’s now fully adapted to our home and to us.

“Opal has brought a whole new level of joy to our family. She’s such a sweet soul who warms all of our hearts, and always puts a smile on our faces, even when we’re feeling down.

“Before adopting her, we bought a bunch of toys for her to play with – all lying forgotten now in a small basket! She prefers to chase and ‘attack’ a shoelace that she found in one of our closets. As soon as the shoelace is brought out, we immediately get her attention. She claws, bites, and pounces on it, making all of us laugh.

“While she likes being petted and cuddled, it’s only on her terms. If she doesn’t want any pets, she’ll meow at you and walk away. But at 3 AM, when we’re asleep, she suddenly becomes very interested in our attention. When she does cuddle with us, she lies against us and spreads her whole body out long. She also loves the smell of fresh air. We open windows for her so that she can stick her head against the screen and smell all the scents.

“Opal sleeps on top of the cushions in our living room right by the window. She likes looking out the window to observe people and other animals wandering around outside.”

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Furry Friends Fur-Ever Stories are compiled and written by Nomi Berger who is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She is a volunteer writer for Furry Friends in Vancouver, WA and also volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA. She lives with her adopted Maltese named Mini.

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: T-Bone, Yuki and Kathy Howe

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: T-Bone, Yuki and Kathy Howe

“My best friends, my therapy cats — my ‘dog cat’ and my ‘cutie patudy’ — are the best cats on the planet,” exclaims Kathy. “I know that T-Bone was everyone’s favorite at Furry Friends because he loves every person he meets. But I consider him my ‘dog cat’ because he’s everywhere I am. When I get up in the morning and use the bathroom, he’s suddenly on the counter giving me head bumps. No matter where I go, I know he’ll go there, too. He wakes me up in the middle of the night by touching my face with a paw. I love him so-o-o-o much. And all of my family and friends love him, too. He’s always around and eager to meet new people!

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Ruby, Emmie and Cindy Christensen

Furry Friends Fur-Ever Tail: Ruby, Emmie and Cindy Christensen

“Ruby and Emmie (formerly Eva and Echo) aren’t my first cats,” explains Cindy. “I’ve had cats since I was five years old. “Most recently, my cats were Libby and Dallas who were much loved throughout their lives. Libby passed on two years ago and Dallas followed a few months ago. I waited awhile, not sure that I could go through the loss of another beloved pet. But I missed having a cat in my life too much.

Furry Friends is a nonprofit cat adoption organization. Its mission is to help homeless, relinquished and abused cats by providing spaying and neutering, medical care, and foster shelter for as long as it takes to find their forever home. Copyright © 2013 – 2020 Furry Friends. All rights reserved. Website design and development by Christina Roberts.