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Best of Portland 2013: Best Animals


Rocky the raccoon has figured something out: If you hang around humans while they drink beer and eat peanuts, they will share their peanuts. Rocky has also discovered the perfect place to put his life plan into action: the shady picnic tables circling the fire pit outside the Little Red Shed at McMenamins Edgefield (2126 SW Halsey Street, Troutdale, 669-8610,

Inside the shack, intelligent furless mammals purchase cigars, beer, wine and 75-cent cups of peanuts. Outside, where they sit smoking their cigars and drinking their Ruby Ales, a furry and even more intelligent mammal approaches.

Hey buddy, can you spare a peanut? Rocky seems to say, though he does not actually speak.

What are you going to do, claim you don't have a peanut? He can see the peanuts. He looks unwell, all rings and bones. He has a slow, graceless gait. Perhaps it's unwise for him to subsist on a single fatty and nutrient-thin foodstuff, you think. Maybe he should be out digging up grubs instead of begging for goobers. Hey, man, it's just one peanut. Everyone else is giving him peanuts. But are you really helping him by giving him a peanut, or should you offer to get him something more nourishing? He stares. Just give him the peanut, everyone around you seems to say, though they do not speak. It's not your problem, you decide, and you give him the peanut.

You watch as Rocky works the crowd. He comes right up to an old biker dude in a leather vest to take a peanut.  He does not appear to feel degraded by the skittish teenage boy, who, perhaps put off by Rocky's mangy appearance, tosses a peanut into the bushes.

Rocky makes his rounds for 10 minutes. A family arrives, eyeing Rocky warily. They hang back, huddled around their one sad little cup of peanuts, seemingly ready to guard it with a stomp or a loud "Hey!" if necessary. The son, who looks to be about 5, starts to approach Rocky with a peanut. "Hey, sweetie, stay over here," Mom says, her voice rising. "You don't want to get too close to the animal or it could bite you." Ugh, you think, like Rocky would ever dream of ripping this stupid little kid's face off. He just wants a peanut. If he bit her kid, he'd probably have his head chopped off for a rabies test. Around here we share. Just give him the peanut. MARTIN CIZMAR.


Look at this fucking horse. Look at him. This horse is boss horse. And he's a cop. He's glorious. This is Zeus, the leader of the Portland Police Bureau's gang of eight horses. One day this badass horse is patrolling downtown streets, bustin' up drug deals, and the next he's getting all fancy, leading the Rose Parade and making all the kiddies smile. (Even though he's a hardass, Zeus loves kids.)

Zeus is half Clydesdale—the same breed as those Budweiser horses that kick footballs—and he's frickin' huge. Zeus is all muscle, too. Not like Murphy, the tubby underdog whose epic struggle to earn his police badge was chronicled by Tom Hallman Jr. in The Oregonian this year. Zeus doesn't need a Pulitzer-winning publicist. He's Zeus.

See, when Zeus came to run the mounted patrol's show three years ago, he was already the real deal—no Jillian Michaels tapes needed. Since then, Zeus has been involved in hundreds of arrests, and even gets into the action when Officer Ryan Albertson, his crime-fighting partner, searches perps. Oh yeah, and unlike that chubby oaf Murphy, Zeus faced off with Timber Joey in a soccer match—and won. What could Murphy the show pony beat Timber Joey at? An oat-eating contest. Maybe.

With a mere flick of his super-awesome ear or a sidelong glance, Zeus puts all of his other equine cops on point. "It's like a prison yard, if he walks over to a spot, the other horses leave," says Albertson, who has ridden the all-mighty Zeus for the past 18 months.

We pity any suckers who don't know that this big, beautiful, black picture of absolute fucking equine perfection is really the best goddamn horse in the city.

"Everyone respects him," Albertson says. "He's Zeus; he's the God of horses." ANDREA DAMEWOOD.


Insomnia struck Max Marvin two years ago. He struggled with different remedies until a sleep therapist recommended a light-therapy lamp that beams full-spectrum light into a room at 10,000 lux—roughly the equivalent of a sunny day. It wasn't just Marvin who benefited, though: He soon realized his 6-year-old golden retriever, Luke, was basking in the glow. A "middle-aged" dog, Marvin says, Luke got "a bit lethargic in the winter." Every time Marvin fired up the light-therapy lamp, he'd find Luke "on his back, intently gazing at the light."


So Marvin, a 22-year-old downtown Portland resident, invented the Sol Box, a light-therapy lamp especially for pets. Last November, Marvin's company, Pawsitive Lighting (, went live, selling the coffeemaker-sized rectangular lamp for $149 to pet owners around the world. "It's a fantastic way to wake up," Marvin says. "In the morning, you turn it on, have a cup of coffee, read the news, and your dog can do the same." ALEX BLUM.


Sierra is looking for love. Mitchell's braver self is showing through, and he dreams of a happy ending. Pit bull Kenzo is "definitely a looker," and Clooney, a young chocolate Lab, is active and "very sweet." Meanwhile, the printed descriptions of tomcats Otis and Sammy read more like a police blotter, detailing their hair color and age and where they were last seen. The side door of Meat for Cats and Dogs (2205 E Burnside St., 236-6971,, a raw-food store for pets, is a public bulletin board set up to help pets find new homes and owners to find their wandering pets.

A pattern quickly becomes obvious: All of the cats have run away from their owners, while all of the dogs have been abandoned. It seems at first a lesson in the nature of affection—those who need it most are doomed, while those who take it for granted are desperately chased. Are you Uma Thurman or Janeane Garofalo, cat or dog? But if you pay attention, you'll see one or two of the tear-sheet phone numbers disappear from a sign—and, a little later, the sign will go away. It's like reading a romance novel in semaphore. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.


If you notice a buzzing sound near Six Days Art Co-op (2724 NE Alberta St., 280-6329,, don't be alarmed: It's just Brian Lacy's bees. He has installed a Plexiglas observation hive in the window of the gallery. The denizens fly in and out of the building via a 14-foot wooden chimney. "I've got it covered right now," Lacy says, "because they're still getting used to their new environment."

Lacy is not merely an organic beekeeper, but the cause of organic beekeeping in others, offering coaching to hive-minded novices with his educational business Live Honeybees (975-2391, He's on a crusade to make backyard beekeeping an alternative to the commercial colonies that have collapsed in recent years.

Joke all you want about bees being the new chickens, but this isn't Lacy's first trip to the forefront of a burgeoning Portland trend. He co-founded the Community Cycling Center in 1996, back when bicycles were still outside the city's mainstream culture. Running Live Honeybees for the past three years, he now gets stung about 20 times a month as he brings organic beekeeping to the Rose City. Not that he'll need to go far: This year, he discovered that a colony of honeybees is living inside a metal girder of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall's iconic neon "PORTLAND" marquee. "There's this self-sustaining colony totally in the center of Portland," Lacy says. "To me, it's kind of symbolic." AARON MESH.

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