Vote for who will kiss Port Angeles prairie dog
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Tanis McCuistion, an employee of Tiny Bubbles Pet Store in Port Angeles, holds Lou, a prairie dog that has become a mascot of the shop.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Kissing pigs has become too mainstream for Jim's Pharmacy, so when it was decided the business would host a fundraiser for the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, pharmacists found a far less-common animal to kiss on the Olympic Peninsula: a prairie dog.

Four pharmacists at Jim's Pharmacy — owner Joe Cammack, Tom Lindley, Brig Consoliver and Sue Purvis — have volunteered to be the one to kiss the furry rodent in exchange for donations for the Humane Society.

“A pig is way too mainstream. Anybody can do that,” said Linda Cameron, customer service manager for Jim's Pharmacy.

Members of the public can vote for which pharmacist will lay a smacker on Lou, a black-tailed prairie dog that lives at Tiny Bubbles Pet Store in Port Angeles.

Votes are in the form of $1 bills placed in a box with the picture of the pharmacist of choice at Jim's Pharmacy, 424 E. Second St.

The pharmacist with the most votes by Tuesday, June 25, will have a date with Lou the Prairie Dog.

Tiny Bubbles Pet Store will bring Lou the Prairie Dog to Jim's for the smooch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 26.

Cameron said she wasn't sure all the pharmacists really understood what they were getting into.

“When I told Tom, I think he thought I was joking,” she said.

The proceeds from the vote will be donated to the Humane Society.

Lou is a roly-poly black-tailed prairie dog from Texas who, along with Princess, a rare white prairie dog, serves as the Tiny Bubbles Pet Shop's mascot, said Shell'ey Van Cleave, secretary of the board for the company.

Prairie dogs are a ground squirrel species that is native to an area surrounding the Rocky Mountains — from Montana in the north to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the south — and live in large colony “towns” that can number in the thousands.

In recent years, the burrowing animals have found popularity as pets.

Prairie dogs are heavily regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and were illegal for unlicensed owners until 2008, when strict regulation of their breeding and adoption was established.

Tiny Bubbles, 1130 E. Front St., had to be licensed by the USDA to keep and sell prairie dogs, and breeders also require federal licenses.

Prairie dogs don't have a strong smell, can be litterbox-trained and are very social, said shop employee Tanis McCuistion.

They prefer to live in large cages in the middle of a house's most active area.

A lone prairie dog will consider its human family to be its colony and need several hours of attention a day.

Van Cleave added that they can be walked on leashes, want to be around people all the time and learn to get around a house quickly in a rodent ball to follow their favorite person in hopes of being picked up and cuddled, she said.

Their diet is almost entirely grasses and grass roots, mostly timothy hay, Van Cleave said.

Other foods, such as carrots or other vegetables, can kill a prairie dog, she warned.

For more information about the fundraiser, phone Jim's Pharmacy at 360-452-4200.



Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 13. 2013 6:22PM
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