Category Archives: Animals

Sick Kid, Lost Dog in South Kitsap

Of all the sad, pathetic news coming out of South Kitsap this week, this one really tugged at me. But then, you know I’m a big softie, especially if we’re talking about kids or dogs.

OK, so I get this e-mail from one Alison Dockins regarding a lost dog. What, do I look like the community bulletin board at Safeway? Well, I guess I’m OK with that. If Gardner can post about what fell out of his taco, I guess I can try to help this family get their dog back, especially considering the circumstances.

Alison wrote, “Hello Mr. Henry (Note to self – gotta do something with that byline.) I am writing to see if you can help my family and I. My youngest daughter has a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome, she is doing great and has bypassed so many of her doctors expectations for her and make all of us so proud. But the reason I need your help is our family dog ran away on Monday. Him and my daughter are always together, he is her constant companion and puts up with so much more then most other dogs ever would. He is absolutely irreplaceable and my daughter and the rest of us are heartbroken. She walks around the house asking “where puppy? and just isn’t herself without him. Is there anyway you could run even just a small article with a picture of him…..I know he is around here (Port Orchard) as people have seen him….but he is such a friendly great family dog I’m worried someone might just keep them for their own family. Please help me!

Since I’m not clear on whether Alison’s contact information is for publication, I’m going to say contact me at (360) 792-9219 or

The family lives off Sidney Road, south of Lider Road on Logan (see map below). Here’s what the dog looks like:

The Dockins family of South Kitsap is missing their pet.

Here’s the area where the dog was lost.

Woman Attacked by Bull Was Recovering from a C-section

A 22-year-old South Kitsap woman attacked by a bull Wednesday morning had been recovering from an emergency C-section three weeks earlier.
Mother and son are both at Tacoma General Hospital, although Laura Gragg has not been able to see her son, Charlie Luke Gragg, born Sept. 6 at one pound five ounces, since she was admitted Wednesday afternoon to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Laura’s husband, John Gragg, 22, who is in the National Guard, was flown home from deployment in Afghanistan for the birth and had just returned to his post on Monday.
The attack took place in a pasture belonging to Laura Gragg’s in-laws, Bill and Linda Gragg, with whom she is staying while John is overseas. Two volunteers from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Citizens on Patrol had asked to check the vehicle identification number of a car in the pasture where the bull and three cows were kept. A VIN number is required before a car can be sold for scrap.
According to Gragg, speaking by phone Friday from the ICU, she had asked the volunteers to wait until her father-in-law was home since he is more familiar with the bull. When they came anyway, she accompanied them into the pasture and tried to keep the bull at bay.
“I know things can turn on a dime with them,” she said.
Turn they did, as the bull knocked her to the ground, pinning her against one of several cars in the field. Gragg said she managed to find shelter between two cars, but the bull came around the other side and again threatened her.
According to a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy report, one of the volunteers distracted the bull long enough for the other volunteer to help her escape from the field.
As soon as we got through, I noticed one of the volunteers wasn’t behind us,” Gragg said.
The bull had attacked that man, repeatedly knocking him to the ground, before he pinched the animal in the nose to make it retreat.
The second volunteer was transported to Harrison Medical Center, treated for puncture wounds to his right leg and sent home on Wednesday.
Gragg said doctors are watching her to make sure a laceration on her liver sustained in the attack doesn’t start bleeding. In the meantime, she and her husband have decided she is stable enough that he will be able to stay over in Afghanistan. He is due to return home in April
Laura Gragg hopes to be able to visit her baby in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital on Sunday. She holds no hard feelings against the bull.
“Just seeing how he was in his territory, there’s not much you can say about the bull acting crazy, because we were in his territory,” she said.

This is No Fish Story: Humboldt Squid Make Rare Visit to the Strait

Note: The headline of this post was corrected to say squid were in the Strait (of Juan de Fuca) not Puget Sound. (9/21/09)

I noticed today Chris Dunagan’s “Watching Our Waterways” blog a post on fishing jokes. It piqued my interest, since I recently got to go salmon fishing with my husband for the first time since B.C. (before children).

The fishing was good, and with two of us licensed, we were able to bring home more than he usually does. “You only love me for my punch card,” I told him.

On October 7, we were trolling the Strait of Juan de Fuca off Sekiu. I was reeling in my line, and I saw that something was after it. I thought it was a salmon, but then I saw a wide flap-like appendage break the water. It was brown in color, not at all like a salmon. A minute later something hit my husband’s line hard and dove with it. Believing it to be a large salmon, Mike got excited and had fun playing it. It moved and acted enough like a salmon that he was convinced that’s what he had. But when he got it close to the boat, he couldn’t believe what he saw – a three-foot squid. Netting it was a trick. Getting it out of the net was even trickier. Unhooking it was just plain scary. Those things have a beak that could do some major damage to a finger or hand.

Although Mike has fished this area for more than 20 years, catching a squid was first for him.


We looked up the regulations and determined that were were allowed to keep it.

The creature was amazing. Its skin changed color rapidly in moving patterns, ranging from iridescent white to rusty brown. Every now and then it would hug itself with its flippers (probably the wrong term) and turn itself into a rigid torpedo shape. Its eyes conveyed the impression that it had a level of intelligence, like a whale.

When we got in to shore, we found a number of other people had also caught squid. Ours turned out to be 10 pounds. The largest caught that day was an estimated 20 pounds, although it was let go.

Turns out they were Humboldt squid, which typically hang out in California and South America. They can get up to six feet long and 70 pounds. What they were doing up this far north, no one could guess. Chris Mohr, owner of Van Riper’s Resort in Sekiu, said he’d never seen anything like it. Theories include fluctuations in ocean temperature, Ph levels (relative acidity) and food sources, but none so far has been proven.

On the docks of Van Ripers’ some people knew just how to filet and skin the squid. One couple said they had caught one the day before, and they had cubed and sauteed the flesh in garlic butter. The consistency was rather like scallops although a little chewier, they said. They had even kept the ink, which they heard could be used to flavor pasta. They had kept to beak, which was an intimidating appendage, larger and harder than a parrot’s beak.

My husband is not a fan of squid (he’s had calamari a couple times), and since we had plenty of salmon to process, we gave ours to a Korean friend, who was most appreciative. Fishermen on the Bremerton marina dock and Southworth dock can often be seen fishing for six-to-10-inch squid. I’m guessing our friend was not expecting a specimen the size of a small dog. When Mike opened the back of the truck to show off his catch, the guy said, “Holy ….”

This week, as reported in the Peninsula Daily News, the squid began beaching themselves on the shores of Clallam Bay, again for unknown reasons.

I’m hoping my fellow reporter Chris Dunagan can pick up where I left off and offer some explanations for the strange phenomenon. If our Web editor Angela Dice were here, she would no doubt find it fodder for her food blog, The Food Life.

If anyone out there can offer recipes for squid, I’d be most interested, although I suspect that was our once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the species.

How Much Would You Pay for Local Meat?

Local farmers are excited about the prospect of being able to sell more of their beef, pork, lamb and poultry to Kitsap residents, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved mobile meat processing facility. The 45-foot trailer, custom-designed for that purpose, will swing into action in mid-June and make the rounds of six counties, including Kitsap.

Farmers and small-scale meat-producers in Kitsap County list a number of advantages to locally grown meat.

1. What you see it what you get. Joe Keehn, owner of Farmer George Meats in South Kitsap, raises his own cattle. He says, “The thing about buying from a local farmer, you can see what they’ve got. You can see where the calves have been born. You can see where they’ve been fed. Pork and lamb the same thing.”

2. According to Keehn, the animals are raised and slaughtered in a more humane way that animals raised in large, corporate feed lots or poultry farms. “The way we do our farm butchering, the animals are pretty much in their own environment,” said Keehn, who uses a gun to kill the animal out in the field before it’s bled and butchered. “They’re not crowded. They’re not pushed. It’s very humane.”

2. It’s healthier, they say. Much of the meat is organically grown, without the use of hormones.

3. It’s easier on the environment, advocates say. Currently USDA-approved meat must be trucked into the county, typically from Eastern Washington or the Midwest. That represents a lot of fuel consumption, said Jim Carlson of Minder Meats, who processes USDA meat for local restaurants and who has seen a jump in retail customers looking for custom-cut meats. Carlson is excited about being able to distribute locally grown meats. “It’s a smaller carbon footprint, that’s for sure,” said Carlson. “(Currently) an animal has a lot of miles on it by the time it gets here.”

4. Local meats taste better, say sustainable agriculture advocates. “Our quality is superb,” said Keehn, a plainspoken man, not given to hyperbole.

5. Although Keehn and Carlson admit they can’t compare price-wise to volume distributors like Costco and Walmart, both say their cost is comparable to high end products in grocery stores. Keehn, for example, sells sides of meat for about $2.79 per pound. After butchering, the cost for a variety of cuts, from hamburger to filet mignon, comes in at about $4.50 a pound.

Keehn and Carlson report an increasing appetite in Kitsap for local meat. While Arno Bergstrom, director of the Washington State University Kitsap County Extension office, reports an increase in the number of small farmers producing meat products.

Could it be a trend? Jim Freeman of the Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance thinks so, although he notes that some people hesitate to buy local meat simply because they can’t afford to pony up for a whole side of beef or a quarter of a pig all at once. With the new mobile meat facility in action, consumers will have greater access to smaller cuts of local USDA-certified meats through CSAs and farmer’s markets.

Regardless, local meat will probably still seem expensive to people who are used to buying meat with an eye to whatever is on sale, Freeman said. In fact, at least for now, locally grown products will remain more costly than grocery store goods simply because they are more labor intensive to produce. Freeman says that shouldn’t stop consumers from “making an investment” in local agriculture. As more people make local food a regular part of their diet, local farmers will have more incentive to produce more. With greater supply, the price will drop somewhat, and better yet, said Freeman, the farmers will actually be able to stay in business.

How much are you willing to pay to “eat local?” Take the poll on this blog.

Friday Afternoon Club: Port Orchard, You’re So Gull-able!

It happens every year. Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano, Port Orchard residents and visitors in the know flock to the waterfront for the annual Seagull Festival. You’ve got to love a town that knows how to make a fool of itself, collectively speaking.

If you have not idea what the festival is all about, check out last year’s article and video.

Here are more details from Kitsap Sun’s A&E:

For the Birds: Call a Seagull, Then Duck

Port Orchard hosts the 21st annual edition of its Seagull Calling Festival beginning at 1 p.m. May 2 in the Waterfront Park on Bay Street.

Costumed contestants will show off their bird-beckoning prowess for wigged judges, who’ll evaluate categories like “Most Authentic Call, “Most Seagulls Called In” and “Best Costume.”

In addition, the event features a “seagull wings” cook-off, non-alcoholic beverage competition and other activities. Of course, “The Candy Shop” will be making a batch of its specialty creation, “Seagull Plop.”

Applications for the wings and beverage competitions, plus other bird-brained information, is available at

Friday Afternoon Club: The Misadventures of Macho Bird

Does this ever happen to you?

You’re awakened at first light by a dull thud. It’s a robin in lust, hurling himself at the reflection in your bedroom window. There’s a predictable pattern you can’t help but time in your head as you drift somewhere between sleep and dang-it’s-time-to-get-up. The bird sits on a branch for exactly 38 seconds looking casual and unconcerned, then for exactly four seconds, he fluffs up his feathers – the bird equivalent of flexing his pecs. The window having been sufficiently warned, he leans forward menacingly for a fraction of a second, and, wham, he hits the glass feet first, leaving behind muddy little claw and wing prints. The feathery smears on the window do nothing, apparently, to diminish the image that has him so worked up.

Meanwhile, all the other robins are attacking real male birds for the honor of courting real female birds and making real babies. Hello, Macho Bird, get a clue. Somebody give this guy a Darwin Award.

And every morning, the cat watches the show intently. He never misses an episode, even though he knows exactly how each scene will end.

Banner Bear Victim Speaks Publicly

Reporter Brynn Grimley went out the Banner Forest today to hear Anthony Blasioli, the victim of the Sept. 2 bear attack, speak publicly for the first time.

SK Bear Victim Speaks

Brynn Grimley writes:

This is likely the end of the Banner Bear stories. The bear hasn’t been caught and the victim, 51-year-old Anthony Blasioli, is out of the hospital and recovering.

On Sept. 17 Blasioli met with reporters to tell his side of the bear attack story. He said he was riding his bike through the trail when one of his two dogs gave a couple sharp barks. Then there was silence. Blasioli said he got off his bike, assuming a horseback rider or other trail user would be on the winding trail in front of him. He then looked up and saw a bear charging at him. His dogs were nowhere in sight.

In many of our blog comments and comments on our stories people have attacked Blasioli, saying he wouldn’t have been attacked if his dogs had been on a leash. Wildlife officials don’t believe that is true, and also don’t want to speculate about what happened. As Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Ted Jackson said Friday out on the trail “Only Mr. Blasioli, the bear and God know what happened that day.”

According to Blasioli, he said his dogs weren’t on their leashes but they didn’t bark continually at the bear as was reported to us through various officials. The dogs being off leash “did not contribute to the attack because it was so sudden,” he said. “There was no barking. They completely left the scene. They were gone.”

There have also been questions about how Blasioli knew the bear that attacked him was a male and not in fact a mother bear with cubs as also was originally reported by officials. Blasioli said he knew very well the bear was a male because it was standing on top of him attacking him and he saw it’s genitalia. He added he wasn’t trying to look, but he really had no choice.

Sgt. Jackson said on Friday if the bear had been a mother she would have been euthanized if caught, but the cubs would have been captured and relocated. He said they already had a place lined up for them to go where they would be safe and able to grow.

The fact that the male bear was not found is very unusual, Jackson said – especially because they had at least six baited traps set in the park. If caught right away the bear would have been killed – if properly identified – but now if a male bear is found in the area it will be relocated. They won’t be able to identify it because it’s coat is about to change with the season, Jackson said. The area the bear would be relocated to would be remote and he wouldn’t say where because they don’t want hunters heading to the area trying to kill the animal. However, the remote area the animals are taken to does allow hunting.

Some commentors have also given Fish and Wildlife officials a hard time, asking why the bear should be killed. Jackson said the fact the bear attacked a human and ignored the dogs is extremely rare. In the 12 years he has been in his position he’s told people unprovoked black bear attacks are very rare. He also said they wouldn’t be able to relocate the bear if it had been found because it almost killed a human. If that bear attacked another person it would be on the state and the officer who released it. He also said contrary to people’s suggestions that the bear be taken to the Olympic National Park or Forest, he can’t do that, primarily because the park/forest authorities wouldn’t allow him in with a bear that attacked a person. He also said unfortunately there is nowhere for bears to go where they won’t run into humans. We’ve invaded too much of their habitat and now bear and cougar sightings are becoming a regular thing.

Banner Park is now open, however people should be reminded that the bear was not found. If you plan to use the park, bring (and use) a whistle, bells and any other type of noise maker to let animals know you’re coming. You should also go into the park in pairs, for safety reasons. And as always, use the park with caution, always knowing it’s a nature preserve and not an urban habitat for humans.

Brynn Grimley
Kitsap Sun
Phone: (360) 792-5242
Fax: (360) 415-2681

Banner Forest Reopens Today

Update 12:15 p.m. 9/17: Reporter Brynn Grimley was among the media today for an interview with Anthony Blasioli, the victim of the Sept. 2 bear attack. Check the Kitsap Sun’s Web site shortly for Brynn’s story. I’ll post the link here. CTH

From the County:
Banner Forest Heritage Park will re-open to the general public on today, Sept. 17. To report bear or cougar sightings, contact the Washington State Patrol at (360) 478-4646 or call 911. Signs are posted at each trail head and at the parking lot informing patrons about bears in the area.

The bear that attacked a man on a bicycle Sept. 2 is still at large. Wildlife officials have removed traps to avoid luring more bears. They are advising people using the forest to walk in pairs and carry a whistle. I know that people who hike in bear country in the mountains use a walking stick with bells. Read more here.

Banner Bear Update

Reporter Brynn Grimley has given an update on the Banner Forest Bear, who is still yet to be captured. But reported bear sightings have wildlife officials hopeful they can catch the animal who mauled a bicyclist a little over a week ago.

In case you are wondering why Brynn, the CK reporter is so generously helping me with my beat, it’s that she was on “cops” duty (reporting on 911 calls) the day the bear incident took place. I have cops this Friday. Wonder what will be going down on Kitsap County then. We get some pretty bizarre Code 911 items. Ya just never know.

Friday Afternoon Club: Salmon Season

Last weekend, we went up to my father-in-law’s place on the Duckabush River in Brinnon for a family get-together. The main attraction wasn’t his big screen TV. It was out in the river. Pale patches among the pebbles of the river bed showed where salmon had pushed algae covered rocks aside to make a nest for their eggs. In each nest at least one, usually two mossy green salmon could be found staking out their territory. In one deep pool downstream, well over 100 dark salmon bodies gathered, resting before making the run upstream.

Salmon watching is an annual activity here in the Northwest, something I knew nothing about when I moved here in 1979, but which has become a cherished part of the autumn season for me and my family.

Between now and early winter, different streams will come alive with their respective runs of salmon. My father-in-law said the ones in his back yard were chum.

Where do you go to watch the salmon run? Got any good salmon recipes?

Happy trails .. and watch out for those darn bears. CTH