Cat Named Andy Shares “Deep Thoughts” in Portland, Oregon

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Adopted cat Andy is the star of punny window paintings

(Sherwood, OR)—When Portland, Ore., resident Hayley Cassatt adopted her cat Andy from the Cat Adoption Team (CAT) in 2011, she had no plans to make Andy a star. In fact, she hadn’t anticipated adopting Andy at all.

“I was looking around for a male orange kitty, and Andy didn’t quite fit my match,” says Hayley, “But when I saw her I fell in love.”

Although Andy was “a little scared and a little weird,” the two made an instant connection. It felt like love at first sight, but Hayley wanted a second opinion before committing to Andy. She called her dad.

“I said, ‘Dad, I can’t leave without this cat; she’s my baby,’” Hayley recalls. “He said to go for it, so I took her home.”

It wasn’t the first time Hayley had looked to her father for support. The two were quite close, sharing a love of puns, cartoons, and—of course—cats. An award-winning photographer, designer, and cartoonist, Hayley’s father also considered himself a “cat butler” to the Cassatt family cats. When he passed away from cancer in 2013, Hayley wanted to do something unique in his honor.

“Andy always sits in this window and I thought it would be so great if I put up some puns as an homage to my father,” Hayley shares.

An art teacher and professional artist herself, Hayley put up Andy’s first “deep thought” in the window of her home in Southeast Portland. Since then, she’s continued to create window art with Andy as the centerpiece. When she noticed passers-by taking photos, she started an Instagram account (instagram.com/deepthoughtsbyandy) so that people could see more of Andy and tag her in their posts.

Hayley says she usually picks puns or topical sayings for the window. Things like holidays, current events, and pop culture inspire the artwork, which changes every couple of weeks.

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Hayley doesn’t publicize her address, but enjoys when people happen upon her window, smile, and take photographs of Andy. Some people even seek out the special window just to see what Andy’s been thinking.

“My dad would have really loved how excited people are,” she says. “It really makes me happy to pay him tribute.”

In addition to honoring her father, Hayley likes the chance to be playful with her cat too. Her advice to others seeking a feline companion is to “do something fun with them.” She adds that it’s important to adopt. “There’s a lot of cats out there that don’t have homes. I don’t feel like a home is a home without a cat.”

As for how Andy feels about all the attention? Well, you’ll just have to find her window and see for yourself!

Get your Meow! on

History was made when Adam Ellis decided to place a fun little hat on his adopted feline friend Maxwell, then snapped and uploaded the photo to Instagram.

Now Ellis’ compilation of adorable photos of cats in hats with amusing anecdotes are available in a new book, Tiny Hats on Cats, available Oct. 20. The book also has a DIY element — step-by-step instructions for crafting your own colorful kitty headgear. Wondering what to get the cat lovers, crafters, and pop-culture fans on your list this holiday? This might be it. Pre-order at tinyhatsoncats.com.

Going to the chapel

Trailblazers center Meyers Leonard recently caused a stir online when he tweeted: Okay everyone I NEED your HELP!! My fiancée has agreed that if I get 3,000+ Retweets Bella gets to be in our wedding!

Meyers had proposed to fiancée Elle that if he could get 3,000 retweets from fans on Twitter, his beloved Siberian Husky Belle would be in the wedding. Within 30 minutes of his ask to fans, the Retweets surpassed the goal. Rip City’s love of Blazers is perhaps only surpassed by its love of dogs. 

On a Mission from Dog

Say what you will about Burning Man — the annual gathering of clothing-optional self-expression in the Nevada desert — the fact is, lives are changed by it. Often for the better.

Such was the case with Mike Minnick, an Austin, Texas-based man who, after attending the festival three years ago, decided to hit the road in a used truck with his adopted Border Collie mix, Bixby. “I decided to treat life as an adventure instead of a chore," he says.

While Mike was determined to see as much of the country as he could, his rig had other ideas — the truck broke down in the small west Texas burg of Terlingua. He couldn't afford repairs, but he was offered a school bus to live in and a bartending job so he could earn the funds to get back on the road.

It was in that dusty little town that Mike met the Coyote Brothers.

No, they weren't some notorious outlaw gang. They were siblings almost 11 months into a two-year cross-country bicycle trek.  Having temporarily set up camp in town, they ventured into the bar where Mike worked.

"When they started talking about their adventures, everybody else just shut up," Mike remembers.

Inspired, Mike researched cargo bikes, eventually buying one able to safely carry both his gear and Bixby. At the time a self-described complacent chain-smoker, he says after his new cycling friends blew through his excuses, he and his best friend set off.

That was 7500 miles and 30 states ago.

While on the road it occurred to Mike that he could use his trek to create awareness about shelter dogs like Bixby. "To me she's the absolute epitome of what a rescue dog can be — loyal as the day is long, super friendly, and just ready for whatever adventure is next."

So now he and his best friend drop by local shelters and animal welfare organizations in every town they visit, working to shine a light on the many homeless pets waiting for their forever families. Their efforts have made a big difference for dogs like Scout, a Border Collie from a shelter in Denton, Texas. Two days after the shelter featured Scout in a post about Mike and Bixby's visit, he had his forever home.

Mike also hopes to inspire kids to think of shelter animals when asking for a pet. With his rubber-chicken-adorned, bright orange bike, he's a natural attraction for young people.  During this interview, three curious boys — Evan, Ethan and Elijah McKinley — wandered over to meet this guy with the ready grin and the belly-rub-loving pooch in the basket.

Mike, Bixby and the McKinley family

Mike, Bixby and the McKinley family

"We're fostering a Great Dane," Evan says.

"Well, fostering until we adopt," laughs Tyler, the boys' father.

After a few days in Portland, where Mike and Bixby visited both the Oregon Humane Society and The Pixie Project, Mike says he's impressed by the city's love of canines — and its friendliness to bicyclists.

"I want to hug this whole town," he says with a smile. "I haven't been honked at once."

That has not been the case everywhere.  In Florida, for example, Mike says drivers were less willing to share the road. "I took the advice of another cyclist down there and invested in an air horn," he says. "It came in very handy."

Mike and Bixby are headed next for Eugene, then down the Oregon and California coasts. They'll eventually wheel in to Petaluma, where they'll visit the headquarters of Yuba — the company that made Mike's cargo bike and that continues to help him out with parts and repairs.

And help is something Mike and Bixby need. They’re on a mission for shelter animals, but have yet to find a sponsor to at least partially finance the trek. Mike is also seeking someone willing to assist with updating his website and social media, so in addition to chronicling the ride, he can provide more exposure to the shelters and rescue animals he and Bixby meet.

Until then, man and dog exist on donations, pay from occasional odd jobs, and the goodwill of those who follow them on Facebook or at wheresbixby.com.

"Dreams are like sticks," Mike says, quoting a mantra he attributes to Bixby. "You just have to chase them."


Michele Coppola is a veteran Portland radio personality, copywriter and freelance writer who shares couch space with her three rescue pooches Lucy, Bailey, and Ginny, as well as Bryon, the stray man she married six years ago.

Join Team Taylor in helping Portland pets

If you watch NBC's hit show The Voice, you know that Gwen Stefani's team has quite a contender in Taylor John Williams, who was serenading dogs at Portland's own Sniff Dog Hotel before auditioning for the show. "We couldn't be more thrilled for Taylor and his journey on The Voice," says Jamie Mollas, co-owner of Sniff.

They're also thrilled to join with Taylor in raising money for PAW Team, a local organization that provides vet services to pets of the homeless and those struggling with poverty. Taylor's fans can support both the singer and this worthwhile organization by purchasing a "Team Taylor" t-shirt for $20 at SniffDogHotel.com.

As for losing a good employee to the music biz, Mollas is nothing but supportive. "He'll be greatly missed by us, his customers, and pup fans, but we're all happy to see him pursue a dream."

Grimm cast boosts the animals

Cast members from the NBC series Grimm will appear at Race for the Rescues in Portland Sept. 28 at Portland International Raceway.  The event, hosted by Columbia Humane Society, will feature a timed and competitive 5K and 10K run — open to people and their dogs — as well as a more casual 1K Dog Walk and Kids Run.  Specific cast members had not been announced at press time, but Race Coordinator Melissa Cagle has been assured that “multiple celebrities will be present.”  

Race for the Rescues is one of Portland’s only timed races that allows dogs to participate with their people.  Proceeds will benefit six area animal orgs, including Project POOCH, Fences For Fido, and Greyhound Pet Adoption Northwest.  Learn more at RaceForTheRescues.org.

Something about that blonde . . .

There’s something about a sweet-spirited, flirtatious, good-looking blonde.  And for the one you’re about to meet, these descriptors barely begin to cover his traits and accomplishments.  Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with him . . .  everyone does, and for good reason. 

He is a talented actor, but wholly unaffected by his fame.  In fact he speaks to his fans daily — over 200,000 of them follow him on Facebook.  He’s been featured in magazines, and has starred in music videos, on television and on stage.  He is also famous for his fierce dedication to eradicating cancer in both humans and animals. 

You might call him an over-Retriever, and go right ahead — he is Parker Pup, and his list of fantastic traits also includes easygoing.  Call him what you like, just be sure to call him for dinner! 

The blonde butterball joined the McFarling family six and half years ago, including two-legged parents, mom (Chris), dad (Dan) and daughter Jenn, and four-legged sister Goldens, Daisy (3), and Sophie (13).  

Named for the former OSU stadium where Dan went to school, Parker’s people created a website to celebrate the life and puppy antics of their adorable new boy.  Photos and videos flowed, showing the little tyke discovering toys, cats, children, the great outdoors, mugging for the camera in sweet and funny outfits, rough-housing with his sister, and executing his increasing repertoire of tricks.  Stealing our hearts with each passing month, and eventually year, Parker Pup grew up right before our eyes.   

The family loved the little guy and took him everywhere — work, church, festivals and gatherings.  A quick study, he sailed through puppy preschool and began obedience, agility and other training, passing the Canine Good Citizenship test at just 11 months of age.  Seemingly destined for great things, about Parker’s ultimate success, Jenn says, “It just happened . . . and we just went with it.” 

Incredibly cute photos and videos continued coming, of Parker and his sister Daisy celebrating birthdays and holidays, showing off Parker’s skills and adventures.  Just for fun, he was entered in a contest.  He won, was increasingly featured on dog-related websites, and his image even appeared on the big screen in Times Square.  Soon he was getting professional gigs in print ads, TV commercials and music videos. 

One big break came as a fluke.  A photo of Parker sent to StuffonMyMutt.com was picked up and printed by Vanity Fair alongside a column on — you guessed it — “Cuteness” in the December 2009 issue.  The McFarlings had no idea until they received a call from a friend living in France.  Jenn says she got the call one evening after celebrating her birthday with friends.  “I was ready for bed, in my pajamas, and ended up racing to the store to find a copy.”  

The smile says it all:  Parker Pup loves his work

The smile says it all:  Parker Pup loves his work

His mellow temperament led Parker to animal assisted therapy work, with Dan as a natural partner. Working for the State of Oregon in the early ‘80s, Dan’s responsibilities included overseeing the rules governing health care facilities.  A firm believer in the power of pet therapy, one of his earliest acts was implementing rules to allow pets in nursing homes.  “Those same standards, which allow resident pets and pet therapy, are in effect today,” he is proud to point out. 

Parker spreads love and hope while visiting schools, libraries and hospitals.  A regular visitor at Doernbecher Children's Hospital and Oregon Health Sciences University, he not only soothes fearful  patients and families affected by cancer, but also alleviates stress of staff members.  When providing animal assisted therapy, or AAT, Parker provides more than a healing touch and warm cuddles.  As a performer with many tricks, he is able to break through fear, generate smiles where there were none, and laughter where it is vital.  While patients and staff thrive in his presence, Parker gets his due as well — he loves his work. 

“It’s easy to tell that Parker enjoys the visits,” says Dan.  “As he approaches one of his regular haunts, his enthusiasm is clear.  His ears perk up, his tail wags enthusiastically, and his pace quickens.  His posture tells me he is one happy fella approaching his therapy work!”  (Click here for more on Dan's experiences with Parker's therapy work).

In his work to eradicate cancer and heighten awareness, Parker participates in cancer walks on the West Coast as an advocate for the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF), a four-star charity dedicated to funding studies to advance veterinary medicine.  In existence for more than 60 years, the foundation is currently leading a global campaign to cure canine cancer in 10-20 years, while providing more effective treatments in the meantime.  Parker fundraises throughout the year for MAF, as well as the American Cancer Society, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  He raised over $10,000 last year for organizations working to find a cure. 

Parker’s connection to cancer started before he was born.  In 2006, Dan was diagnosed with an aggressive strain.  He is now cancer-free, but when faced with something like that, “You do a lot of bargaining,” Jenn says.  “I promised I would someday give back and do whatever I could to help.”   

Last year, cancer struck the family again, taking the McFarling’s beloved Daisy at just 9 years old, fueling Parker to gather over 2,100 names for a vest he wore at a cancer walk in the fall, bearing names of people and animals who were fighting or had lost their battle with the deadly disease. 

Parker and Betty White were fast friends

Parker and Betty White were fast friends

Parker’s love and therapy also shows up in many unexpected places.  In October, the MAF celebrated its 65th anniversary with a Gala of Hope that included honoring longtime supporter and advocate Betty White.  Parker Pup was on the guest list.  Jenn says, “It was quite an honor as he was the only invited dog.” Laughing, she adds, “He actually received a real invitation!” 

Jenn says meeting Betty White was pretty great, saying it’s easy to tell she has a huge heart for dogs.  “When Parker walked into the room, the whole world stopped for Betty.  She stopped mid-conversation and got the biggest smile on her face.” 

Recently, Parker played Sandy in a production of Annie in Forest Grove.  His role of endearing mutt expanded as he provided comfort to the cast, crew and parents of two little girls killed in a hit and run.  One had been cast as an orphan in the show.    

Another recent happening:  Parker has been nominated in the Therapy Dog category of the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards.  It’s perfectly fitting — a hero in his family’s eyes and in the lives he touches — the awards celebrate the powerful relationship between people and dogs, recognizing exceptional canines doing extraordinary things.  Online voting narrows the field to three semi-finalists in eight categories, who are judged by a celebrity panel.  A unique black-tie affair televised on the Hallmark Channel celebrates the heroes on both ends of the leash.  (Go Parker!) 

So, what does this remarkable, busy boy do in his off-time?  “He is totally obsessed with balls,” says Jenn.  “If no one will throw one for him, he’ll make up his own games and entertain himself for hours batting at a ball or sleeping with one in his mouth.” 

These days, new 6-month-old little brother Reser (named for OSU stadium’s name today) also keeps him occupied.  

Hoping Reser might follow in his big brother’s paw-steps, Reser’s first step was enrolling in MAF’s Canine Lifetime Health Study.  One in two dogs of all breeds will get cancer; and one in four will die from it.  For Golden Retrievers, the risk is higher, with 60% dying from the disease.  MAF’s groundbreaking study is following 3,000 Goldens over their lifetimes to gain insights into preventing cancer, helping determine risk factors for canine diseases, and improving the health of future generations. 

Other than that, the family says with Reser they’re flying by the seat of their pants.  “He’s his own dog and pretty spunky, whereas Parker was mellow,”  Jenn says.  “He’ll have a job, we’re just not sure what that is yet.” 

If Parker is any inspiration, then wonderful things will happen. 

For more Parker Pup, go to ParkerPup.com and follow him at Facebook.com/ParkerPup

To read more about the Morris Animal Foundation, visit MorrisAnimalFoundation.org.  


Vonnie Harris is a freelance writer, and operator of Pet Stop Pit Stop pet sitting services in SW Washington.  She resides in Vancouver with Jessie (a yellow Lab), Pedro & Lorali (parrots), three chickens, and memories of Jake, her heart dog who recently passed on. Vonnie is “the face of Spot” at many Portland-area pet-related events, and the voice of Spot in social media outlets.

Shelter animals win big at Oscars

First there was the report that Oscar host and well-known animal lover Ellen DeGeneres’s pet food company, Halo Purely for Pets, had supplied 20 Oscar swag bags with vouchers for 10,000 meals to be donated to the rescue or shelter of the recipient’s choice.  Then there was that selfie that crashed the Twitter-verse.  In response, Samsung, whose Galaxy Note 3 was used to take the famous picture, has donated $3 million to charities of DeGeneres’s choice in honor of the 3 million retweets (and counting) the picture received.  

The talk-show host chose two beneficiaries:  St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and The Humane Society of the United States.  After receiving word that The HSUS’s coffers just swelled by $1.5 million, CEO Wayne Pacelle said, “Ellen DeGeneres is the leading celebrity voice for animal protection in our nation, and we are so lucky to have her on our side.”  The HSUS will divvy the donation between three programs, Pets for Life, the Shelter Pet Project, and its Animal Rescue Team.

Teen actor starts fast-growing animal rescue

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Actor and singer Lou Wegner, who has most recently appeared with Clint Eastwood in Trouble With The Curve and is part of the pop music group 2Blonde, began rescuing animals at age 14, after becoming aware of the number of shelter animals euthanized while working on a film in Los Angeles.  Previously believing shelters to be safe havens, Wegner, now 16, is working to save as many animals as he can with the help of his friends and social networking. 

Wegner created Kids Against Animal Cruelty (KAAC) to encourage adoptions at high-kill shelters and to educate and inspire youth to take a stand against animal cruelty.  To date his organization has helped more than 20,000 pets find loving homes.  Initially, Wegner promoted his campaign by holding up signs on street corners with friends and using Facebook.  These days Wegner uses the red carpet to promote his cause, often sporting a KAAC T-shirt, as well as co-hosting the radio show, “Love That Dog Hollywood!  Kids & Animals,” broadcast by the Global Voice Broadcasting network.  Several KAAC chapters have sprung up across the country, run by other teens, and boasts more than 50,000 members worldwide.  Wegner hopes to see chapters in every state.  “The bigger the group, the bigger difference you can make,” he says.  Look for Kids Against Animal Cruelty on Facebook and watch his band singing about animal rescue in “1Life2Live” on YouTube.