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Critters of the Week

A wild critter we spotted in the RVA area and a critter up for adoption by SPCA or RACC.

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Where Spotted: Westover Hills
Common Name: Eastern Towhee
Scientific Name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Length: 6.8-8.2 in (17.3-20.8 cm)
Weight: 1.1-1.8 oz (32-52 g)
Wingspan: 7.9-11.0 in (20-28 cm)

Quick Facts (Courtesy Cornell Lab)

  • Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size.
  • The Eastern Towhee and the very similar Spotted Towhee of western North America used to be considered the same species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. The two forms still occur together in the Great Plains, where they sometimes interbreed.
  • Eastern Towhees are common victims of the parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird. Female cowbirds lay eggs in towhee nests, then leave the birds to raise their cowbird young. In some areas cowbirds lay eggs in more than half of all towhee nests. Towhees, unlike some other birds, show no ability to recognize or remove the imposter’s eggs.
  • Eastern Towhees tend to be pretty solitary, and they use a number of threat displays to tell other towhees they’re not welcome. You may see contentious males lift, spread, or droop one or both wings, fan their tails, or flick their tails to show off the white spots at the corners. Studies have shown that male towhees tend to defend territories many times larger than needed simply to provide food.
  • The oldest known Eastern Towhee was a male in South Carolina, and at least 12 years, 3 months old.

Blueberry at Richmond SPCA

Have you been on the search for a cat that has many layers of personality? Has a swagger in his step? Is handsome, affectionate and always seeks the spotlight? Yep, this is me benevolent Blueberry! Almost anything I do is with exuberance. Why, I may just inspire you to be an artist; I can drape myself on the sofa and you can begin to paint your masterpiece – me! And lastly, I have one tiny favor that I need to ask is that you please do not get me confused with a chicken, because I love to chirp! Now that you have read about me all you need to do is rush here to the Richmond SPCA!

Age: 4 years, 1 month
Gender: Neutered Male
Color: Brown
Declawed: No
ID: 31616720

Adopt Blueberry at Richmond SPCA

Learn more about their adoption process.

To reduce visitor traffic, during the COVID-19 outbreak they are scheduling adoption appointments beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Please leave your phone number in a voicemail or email and an adoption counselor will call to set an appointment for you to meet with a pet. Email the adoption center or call 804-521-1307.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Four-legged assistant at Sheltering Arms is helping change lives

Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart. Sheltering Arms Institute has welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Clara.

RVAHub Staff

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Motivation and support come in many forms, including a cold nose and a warm heart. Sheltering Arms Institute, a collaboration with VCU Health, has welcomed its newest team member, Canine Companions for Independence Facility Dog, Clara. Clara will assist handler Dr. Cynthia Rolston, Director of Psychosocial Services and Inter-Professional Science, in her work with patients.

Clara is a two-year-old Lab/Golden Retriever cross and has been training since she was eight weeks old. After being carefully matched with one another, Clara and Dr. Rolston spent the last two weeks working with professional Canine Companions instructors to prepare for their new roles. Training consisted of intensive lectures, hands-on practice and simulations, and multiple examinations in order to acquire public certification.

In just her first few days on the job, Clara has already acclimated to the many changes in her life and settled into her new home and work environment, bringing smiles to our patients’ faces.

“This is a new and exciting program for all of us, and I can’t wait to see how Clara helps our patients achieve independence,” Dr. Rolston said. “We will be working together as a team as we integrate Clara into patient therapy sessions at Sheltering Arms Institute.”

Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised, and expertly trained assistance dogs in more than 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire patients with special needs. Clara can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed, and retrieve all kinds of items. She has specific commands that allow her to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate way.

“We have full confidence Clara will be an exceptional facility dog for Sheltering Arms Institute and bring a host of skills and smiles to the halls daily. She will assist the patients with their therapies, help patients practice their activities of daily living, and bring an added psychological assist,” said Debra Dougherty, Northeast Region Executive Director for Canine Companions for Independence.

Canine Companions for Independence enhances the lives of people with disabilities by training and placing more than 6,000 assistance dogs with program graduates. Canine Companions depends on the support of tens of thousands of donors and volunteers to match our facility with an assistance dog like Clara entirely free of charge. The support for staff training and Clara’s ongoing needs is being provided by generous Sheltering Arms Foundation donors.

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Governor Ralph Northam, First Lady Pam Northam both test positive for COVID-19

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pam Northam have both tested positive for coronavirus after coming in close contact with a staffer who was showing symptoms. The First Lady is experiencing mild symptoms, according to a release, while the Governor remains asymptomatic.

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Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pam Northam have both tested positive for coronavirus after coming in close contact with a staffer who was showing symptoms. The First Lady is experiencing mild symptoms, according to a release, while the Governor remains asymptomatic.

From the Governor’s Office:

On Wednesday evening, Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam were notified that a member of the Governor’s official residence staff, who works closely within the couple’s living quarters, had developed symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. Both the Governor and First Lady received PCR nasal swab tests yesterday afternoon, and both tested positive. Governor Northam is experiencing no symptoms. First Lady Pamela Northam is currently experiencing mild symptoms. Both remain in good spirits.

Consistent with guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Governor and First Lady will isolate for the next 10 days and evaluate their symptoms. The Governor is in constant contact with his cabinet and staff and will fulfill his duties from the Executive Mansion.

“As I’ve been reminding Virginians throughout this crisis, COVID-19 is very real and very contagious,” said Governor Northam. “The safety and health of our staff and close contacts is of utmost importance to Pam and me, and we are working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that everyone is well taken care of. We are grateful for your thoughts and support, but the best thing you can do for us—and most importantly, for your fellow Virginians—is to take this seriously.”

The Governor and First Lady are working closely with VDH and the Richmond Heath Department to trace their close contacts. The Executive Mansion and Patrick Henry office building will be closed for deep cleaning this morning. The work of the Governor’s office continues remotely and uninterrupted.

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Downtown

Dominion Energy Christmas Parade Marching Online this Year

The 37th annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade will shift to a television-only Christmas special.

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From Facebook

Due to the unprecedented circumstances this year and the responsibility to make the safest decision for our community, the 37th annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade will shift to a television-only Christmas special! While we will miss seeing everyone on streets this year, we are so excited about the opportunity to bring Richmond’s favorite holiday tradition to you in the comfort of your own home!

Tune in to WTVR CBS 6 News on Saturday, December 5 at 10 am to watch all-new performances from your favorite entertainment groups, heart-warming stories focused on celebrating our Richmond community, “best of” clips from past parades featuring giant helium balloons and colorful floats, and even a special appearance by Legendary Santa himself! You will not want to miss the must-see television event of the holiday season! #RVAparade2020

NOTE TO PARADE PARTICIPANTS: Spots in this year’s Christmas special are limited. Please stay tuned for more information via email next week.

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