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20 Years After the Septuplet’s Birth

Sarrah M

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On November 17th, 1997, something unique happened in Des Moines Iowa, which had never been recorded in human history. A set of Sextuplets (seven siblings) was successfully delivered to the McCaugheys. Kenni and Bobbi McCaughey’s story was quickly picked up by international media as everyone wanted to know the unique challenges and experiences that sextuplets would bring to a ‘normal’ American household. This slideshow follows this unique story from the time of birth, until adulthood.

The first born – happy couple (Kenni and Bobbi McCaughey)

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Kenni and Bobbi McCaughey had their first born daughter, Mikalya, born in 1996. The birth was a miracle in itself since Bobbi suffered from pituitary gland issues which made it almost impossible to successfully conceive. Looking to expand their family, they underwent fertility treatments to facilitate the birth of another child.

Surprising News

Before their first ultrasound, the McCaugheys were excited to learn that the fertility treatments had worked and that their family would soon be expanding. But by just how much was something they didn’t realize until this moment. The sound of so many heartbeats in the silence of the hospital room—“it was a lot to take in,” remembered the McCaugheys.

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The Pregnancy

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To their surprise, they learnt that not only were the fertility treatments successful, Bobbi now had seven growing embryos in her womb. Despite the fact that no other set of sextuplets had ever been successfully delivered, they refused to undergo selective termination and decided to see the pregnancy to full term. With the story being picked up by multiple news outlets, this led to some criticism of ‘selfishness’ on their part by putting all embryos in danger.

The Birth

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On the 19th of November, the McCaughey’s doctor decided to deliver the children via cesarean section – six months early – to optimize their chances of survival. All seven children were successfully delivered, albeit underweight at the time. The couple now had seven new additions to their family, four boys (Kenny Robert, Nathan Roy, Brandon James, and Joel Stephen) and three girls (Alexis may, Natalie Sue, and Kelsey Ann)

It Takes a Village

As media attention increased around the miraculous birth of the first surviving septuplets in history—seven babies at the same time—even the hospital staff enjoyed a moment of fame. Before a bank of reporters and microphones, they gave a collective cheer to celebrate. Someone reportedly quipped that, while “it takes a village to raise a child,” ushering septuplets into the world takes a small city!

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The Septuplets

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With a media circus surrounding them, Bobbi and Kenni finally took their new children home and started planning on how to raise their unique family.

5. Media Coverage

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The media couldn’t get enough of the McCaughey sextuplets. Their home was constantly surrounded by local, national and international media outlets seeking to get a glimpse of the family. They even made the cover of Time magazine and Newsweek.

Balloons and Bodyguards

Though Bobbi and Kenni report that they gave relatively few interviews, they also remember that it was not uncommon for paparazzi and other visitors to slip into their backyard, hoping to get a glimpse of the septuplets. So great was the media attention that the local police, in order to ensure the family’s peace and quiet, stood guard outside the McCaughey home. With balloons.

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6. Celebrity Status

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Their new found celebrity also got them an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show on the sextuplets’ first birthday. The parents got a call from President Clinton, and later on, a visit from President Bush.

Mommy time

With eight children to attend to, the McCaughey parents were more than outnumbered! In her weekly journal, Mom Bobbi described trying moments when it seemed like there was “always at least one child crying.” She recalled feeling both “terror and joy,” but never regretted the decision to keep all seven babies rather than choosing “selective reduction.” “They’re my children, and I just wanted them,” she told People magazine.

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7. The Kindness of Strangers (and friends)

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While everybody was mesmerized by their story, they also recognized the financial challenges of raising eight young children. The McCaughey’s were showered with gifts which ranged from a 5,000 sq ft home, a lifetime supply of diapers and a new family van.

The Family Car

It was easy to spot the McCaughey family van because it came adorned with a bow and detailed with the names of each child and their parents. But did it come with carseats? The McCaugheys realized it was time to buckle up for a lifetime of adventures. Traveling with eight children was just one of the many new frontiers they would face as a family.

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Unique Challenges

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These acts of charity were well timed as the sextuplets tore through more than 50 diapers and a similar amount of milk bottles daily. The family had to shop in bulk for food, clothing, and toys to minimize costs. Simple tasks such as taking their children for a stroll required the use of customized, heavy-duty strollers.

Fascinated by the everyday

Media attention tended to focus on how the family coped with everyday tasks, like feeding eight toddlers. Challenging (and messy!) as they might have been, these moments were part of ordinary life for the McCaughey family, who met each one with characteristic good humor. Their upbeat attitude became an inspiration for parents everywhere. After all, if they could manage mealtime with eight, surely the rest of the world could make family dinners work, too….

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9. Joint Birthdays

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With seven children sharing a birthday, joint birthdays were a nightmare to organize. Luckily, the family had a good home dynamic which made it work.

Bedtime

For any parent, bedtime is not an easy hour, but for the McCaughey’s it was a nightly challenge, despite this idyllic feature photo from Better Homes and Gardens. Though they shared rooms by necessity, the siblings got along well. Looking back, they remember that “even from a very young age we all had different interests.” Nevertheless, they all wanted the top bunk.

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How’s That for a Lullabye?

What’s bedtime without some good night songs? Various artists, including Geoff More, Cindy Morgan, Ginny Owens, Chris Rice, and Kathie Lee Gifford came together to compose an album of soothing lullabye music in honor of the McCaughey septuplets. Even parents Bobbi and Kenni contributed a duet, “Tis So Sweet.” The song expressed their gratitude for the amazing gift of septuplets. And perhaps also for the peace and quiet as the last one dropped off to sleep….

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10. Hanging out

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Despite the unusual nature of the family, the kids still had a relatively normal upbringing. They had a large yard to play in, and they maintained a very healthy and active lifestyle.

A symbol of hope?

Like his predecessor, President Bush also found an inspiring American symbol in the McCaughey septuplets. After September 11th, the country needed a wholesome image to restore faith in the land of liberty and opportunity. Against all odds, these seven children had survived and grown into a beautiful, promising blond brood. Now, if only the leader of the free world could get them all to look at the camera!

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Not Twins…Septuplets!

Though they were all born within six minutes of each other (that’s right—six, not seven!), the septuplets were not identical, a fact they have had to explain repeatedly. Of course, this didn’t stop their parents from dressing them in the same clothes. “We didn’t really have a choice” recalled the McCaughey’s. Was it difficult for their older sister to be the odd one out? “Not at all,” says Mikayla.

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Fit that on the Fridge!

Despite their extraordinary number, the McCaughey family celebrated the ordinary accomplishments of each child—their first drawings and writings. The septuplets would go on to become good students who enjoyed school. And the good news for the young siblings was there was always an extensive audience at home for their latest works. The only challenge was finding space on the family refrigerator for all of them!

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Opening Presents

Buying, wrapping, and opening presents with eight children? Needless to say, moments like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and of course The Birthday were “big” in the McCaughey household. But how to keep track of which box belongs to whom? That didn’t seem to matter in the heat of the moment. Used to opening presents together, the septuplets continue to celebrate their miraculous birthday as a family.

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Mealtime at the McCaughey’s

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Organizing meals for a family of ten (the sextuplets, their elder sister, and the parents) was another challenge. Meals had to be made ‘buffet style’ where every person serves themselves. This was the norm for all three daily meals. The family also maintained a vegetable garden to reduce the costs of feeding their kids healthy meals on a daily basis.

Further Challenges

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Two of the sextuplets, Nathan and Alexis were diagnosed with cerebral palsy early in their childhood. Luckily, this did not come with any cognitive issues (and Alexis went on to graduate as one of the top students in her high school class). While Nathan later learnt how to walk on his own, Alexis required mobility assistance.

Seven from Heaven

Challenging as it was to raise eight children, the McCaugheys were unflagging in their belief that the birth of the world’s first septuplets was a miraculous gift. With help from Greg and Deborah Lewis, they chronicled their lives, and the importance of their faith, in the book Seven from Heaven, which went on to become a book club bestseller.

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High School – The Teenage Years

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In 2012, the sextuplets joined Carlisle High school in Iowa. They were all notably very active in the various clubs and activities that the high school offered. While all of them joined the school marching band, each of them had their own set of interests that they explored. Some of the activities that the sextuplets enjoyed include soccer, cross country, the cheer squad and the debate team. They also performed very decently academically.

Financial Independence

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One of the challenges of having eight teenagers was that the family was not in a financial position to meet all their individual needs during their teenage years. This required the McCaughey children to become responsible for their financial independence. To buy electronics, comics, and other items that all teenagers take for granted, they had to get jobs within the community. This is something that they undertook with gusto and enthusiasm.

Graduation

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In 2016, the graduating class of Carlisle High School included seven siblings. This was a huge achievement for the McCaugheys and was a testament to the exceptional upbringing that Bobbi and Kenni had given their kids. While all the sextuplets achieved decent grades, Alexis stood out by graduating with honors as one of the top students in her year. This was a bittersweet moment, as it marked the beginning of adulthood where the sextuplets would each find their way independently in the world.

Adulthood

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After high school, each of the sextuplets had to chart their own career path, beginning with college. The Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri offered all of them a fully funded scholarship to join the school. Natalia, Nathan, Kelsey, and Joel accepted the generous offer and joined the University.

Kenny and Alexis chose to remain in Iowa and join the nearby Des Moines Area Community College while Brandon chose to fulfill his lifelong dream by enlisting to join the military. With adulthood, the sextuplets have chosen to keep their personal lives much more private.

University Life

The septuplets described college life as “culture shock” despite the fact that five of them chose to attend the same university together. What did each major in? Kelsey chose public relations, Alexis gravitated to early childhood education, Natalie selected exercise science, and Joel and Nathan decided on computer information systems. It seems like no coincidence that all of these majors are arguably areas related to the singular nature of their upbringing.

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Turning 21

Despite their desire for privacy as they go on with their separate lives, the family made headlines again recently as the septuplets turned 21 on the day before Thanksgiving. As they had since day one, the siblings gathered at the family home to give thanks together and share the festivities. No more fighting over cake…or even the champagne. “We’re not only siblings, we’re best friends,” one told a TODAY reporter.

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The Next Generation

And there is more to celebrate: older sister Mikayla gave birth to her first child, Becham, making the McCaugheys grandparents for the first time. Bobbi notes that “the love for them is same but the responsibility is so different.” As grandparents, caring for just one who goes home at the end of the day is strikingly different. And does Mikayla have plans to have more? If so, she’s not saying….

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The Real McCaugheys

As the public checks in again with the septuplets at this milestone, parents Bobbi and Kenni have downsized to a three-bedroom, turning over the family home to a ministry for young mothers. Other siblings are engaged and may soon follow Mikayla in starting families of their own. 21 years later, the McCaughey family remains an inspiring testament to the power and possibility of the American family.

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Other Septuplets?

Since the birth of the McCaughey septuplets—the first surviving septuplets—in 1997, five other sets of seven babies have been born. In 2010, the McGhee gamily welcomed septuplets and posted this photo that, like many of the McCaugheys family poses, went viral. Why the fascination with septuplets and with families like the McGhees and the McCaugheys? Is it modern science? Safety in numbers? Or is it perhaps the promise of a family “built on love.”

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Woman Witnesses a Puppy with a Cut Tail and Decides the Puppy Needs a New Home

Sarrah M

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In general, people see pets as members of their families. There is even a saying that a dog is a man’s best friend. Perhaps this is why people have such an affinity toward dogs. This is also one of the man reasons why society as a whole is not going to tolerate the abuse of animals. Sadly, there are some people who will do exactly that. Most people wonder how anyone could possibly abuse animals. This represents some of the vilest acts that people could possibly commit. After all, animals are innocent creatures and too many of them live with abusive owners. When someone takes in a pet, they are expected to care for and love that pet. Abusing an animal represents one of the ultimate acts of betrayal. For this reason, it is important for people to know how to spot acts of animal abuse. Sometimes, there is evidence that animals are being beaten and neglected. When people are able to spot signs of animal abuse, they will be in a position to stop it.

This is the story of one woman who was able to do exactly that. She was driving down the road one day when she realized that her car was running low on gas. Therefore, the pulled over at the nearest gas station. She started filling up her car when she decided to run inside to get a bottle of water. As she was walking, she noticed that there was a crowd that was forming around a small puppy. She decided to waltz over to the crowd to see what was going on. There, she saw the puppy. She was curious as to what everyone was talking about. That was when she realized what was going on.

Somehow, this puppy just didn’t quite have the same amount of energy as a typical puppy. First, the puppy appeared to be missing some of his fur. He also had a tremendous number of burns and scars. Furthermore, this puppy had even had his tail cut off. Without a doubt, she was horrified as to what she was witnessing. She loves puppies and couldn’t believe that someone could mistreat an animal that was depending on his owner to take care of him. She was shocked that he was missing his tail!

Eventually, the owner came back. The woman asks the owner why the puppy was looking so down and depressed. He was covered in marks. The owner stated that the puppy was having a bad reaction to some of his flea medication. While this woman was not able to prove that the owner was wrong, she knew that he wasn’t being truthful. That was when the owner said something shocking. The owner stated that he would be willing to trade the puppy to the woman in order to get some drugs. The woman was absolutely shocked. She couldn’t believe what she had heard. She decided to take advantage of the situation and offered the man some money for the puppy. The man gladly agreed, thinking that he could use the money to score some drugs later.

Now, the puppy has a happy home. She took the puppy to get the medical attention that he needed. His mood instantly brightened and it was clear that he was grateful for the love and attention that he received. The puppy went into a foster home and is soon going to find a forever home that is going to love him and care for him appropriately.

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Mysterious Mud Creature spotted by Cruise Ship on the Daintree River in North Queensland, Australia

Sarrah M

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Australia is home to over 200,000 species of animals. From kangaroos to crocodiles, you can find a variety of animals down under. The country has a rich bio-diversity and has some unique wildlife. Some of their cultural icons include koalas, kangaroos, and emus.

Storyful, an award-winning social marketing and news company reports an interesting encounter by one of the employees of a wildlife cruise company in Australia. The company is called Solar White Cruise and is owned by David White. The company offers cruise tours on the Daintree River for clients to have a look at crocodiles in their natural habitat. The company uses zero-emissions cruise boats as part of their goal to not contribute to any environmental damage. Daintree River is the far north Queensland region of Australia. It is about 100 km from the city of Cairns. One of the employees of Solar White Cruises, Martin was on one of these cruises in the Daintree River when he noticed something strange in the water.

David saw a strange-looking animal covered in mud near the river. It was twisting and turning in a creepy manner. The animal looked like a creature from a horror movie. For Martin who has spent a lifetime at the water, this creature was not like anything he had seen before. Martin was quick to record the video. Once he got back, he showed the video to David White, the owner of the company

The video shows the unidentified creature poking out of the water. It does share some resemblance to a small whale but there have never been anything sightings of whales in that river. It only poked out of water for a few seconds before disappearing back again. The look of the animal was quite ominous. It certainly was not cute looking like a dolphin. This sighting occurred near the tidal pool of the river where the water is not so deep. Typically, crocodiles lurk in this part of the river, looking for prey but at the time there were no crocodiles around this strange creature.

The crew onboard believes it would most likely a mudskipper of some kind. Mudskippers are amphibious fish that have pectoral fins that enable them to walk on land. It is not typical of mudskippers to be as large as the creature seen in the video, although there have documented cases of very large size mud-skippers.

David was not able to identify the animal, but he was curious to find out more. He posted the video online to check if someone can shed some light on what this animal was. He posted the video on several different platforms, including YouTube and Instagram. The viewers suggested it was a duck covered in mud, a large snake, an eel or just a rock that was sinking creepily. There was no conclusive suggestion from any of the viewers. Some viewers have named it The Mud Monster of Queensland. The crew onboard the cruise who spotted the animal, have preferred to name it Martin.

This is not the only mysterious animal found in Australia. There have been reports on sightings of a Bunyip, a large mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal mythology. Some have even reported sightings of the Megadalon, a giant shark over 18 meters long. Of course, there has been no confirmation or scientific evidence to prove these sightings but that has not kept the people from believing it is true. This strange-looking animal will also be added to the list of mysterious creatures sighted in Australia.

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Piper the Black Lab Mix Can Tell Left From Right

Sarrah M

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The ASPCA estimates that 1.6 million dogs are rescued from animal shelters each year. Approximately 25% of dogs in animal shelters are classified as “lab-mix”. The validity of the “lab-mix” classification, however, is questionable. The general bad reputation of Rottweilers and Pit Bulls sometimes prompts shelter workers  omit the possibility of rottweiler or pit bull  and classify them simply as “lab-mix” in an effort to get the dogs adopted out more quickly.

It should be stated that not all rottweilers and pit bulls are aggressive or “bad”. Rhode Island residents Fred and Cindy rescued their “lab mix”, Piper in 2016 from a local shelter. Piper has a bit of a jumping problem when she’s excited to see someone, but she’s far from aggressive. 

Fred and Cindy are very fortunate to have Melanie, a dog lover, for their mail carrier. The wonderful relationship that Melanie and Piper now have started when Piper was three years old, in people years. Melanie always stopped to pet or play with Piper whenever Fred or Cindy had a package. Piper began bringing a large stick to Melanie to get her to play. Melanie would refuse to wrestle the stick away. Instead, Melanie would stand there, hands on hips, saying “nope, you have to drop it. I’m not going to fight you for the stick.” This became a daily game for the pair, even when there was no package to deliver. It got to the point that whenever Piper saw Melanie drive up, she would immediately go looking for her stick to start the game.

Occasionally Piper couldn’t find her stick, so she’d get a ball. Melanie would kick the ball around precisely four times before petting Piper on the head and telling her she’d see her tomorrow.

Melanie’s route causes her to have to drive by Fred and Cindy’s house again about 20 minutes later, from the opposite direction. One day Melanie noticed that Piper’s ball had rolled into the road. She stopped her truck and got out to retrieve the ball for Piper, kicking it around four times more before leaving the neighborhood for the day. The next day the same thing happened again. And again, the next two days. Melanie was sure that Piper was doing this on purpose. Piper knew Melanie would be driving by her house again and pushed the ball into the road, so she could play some more. 

Melanie realized just how incredibly smart (and lovingly manipulative) Piper was. So she started to make good use of Piper’s thinking skills! After their daily play, Melanie began training Piper. Piper already knew “sit” and “stay”. Now she would learn “left hand” and “right hand”.

It went like this:

  • “Piper, sit. Good.”
  • “Pick a hand” – Melanie, with a piece of dog food in her left hand.
  • Piper would always pick the right hand.
  • “Piper it’s never in the right hand. Pick the left hand”.
  • Piper would then pick the left hand. Maybe it was the smell of the dog food causing Piper to pick the left hand, but eventually Melanie started putting a piece of dog food in each hand.
  • “Piper pick the left hand”. Piper would choose correctly.
  • “Piper pick the right hand”. Again, Piper chose correctly, every single time.

Labradors are commonly known to be intelligent and easy to train. Piper may or may not be all Labrador, and she may even be part Rottweiler or Pit Bull. No one knows with certainty. One thing is for sure, though, is that Piper is one brilliant dog!

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Family Dog Rescued by Neighbor and Stranger

Amanda J

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Every family should talk about what happens in case they are ever home when a fire breaks out. Everyone should know where all the exits are, and it is a good idea to keep track of the rest of the family is. You don’t want to risk your life looking for a family member who isn’t even home at the time.

You should also think of alternative ways to get out, in case the fire is blocking the normal exits. It doesn’t hurt to practice so you don’t panic if there is ever a true emergency.

It is better to try to be careful and prevent fires whenever possible, and if there is a fire, it would be better not to be in it. But what do you do if you are gone from your home and there is a fire —  and your beloved pet is trapped inside with no way to get out? 

That is exactly what happened to the Miller family in Webster Groves, Missouri. One day when the family was out the house caught fire. While they are usually home at that time of day, Justin and Amy Miller were still at the zoo with their children that day. Their beloved dog, Milly, was home alone.

This wasn’t just a small fire that was slowly spreading. The flames grew so large that they could be seen pouring out through the roof. It was a truly terrifying scene, but poor Milly didn’t realize the danger she was in. She was happily playing on the back deck when the house caught fire.

Luckily for the Millers, they had unexpected help that day. Instead of running away from danger, a neighbor and a complete stranger ran to the house as fast as they could to help. They knew that Milly wasn’t going to be able to make it out without their help.

When the Millers realized that their home was on fire, they headed back as fast as they could go. But they were too far away to be able to get to Milly in time.

The rescuers made it, though. Milly had gotten stuck by the flames blocking her path but they reached her and got away from the burning house. It was only luck that a stranger who was in the right place at the right time had experience mountain climbing so he was able to scale the side of the garage to save Milly. The Millers arrived soon after, desperate and worried about their dog, who was in pretty bad shape.

Justin Miller says that Milly had burns on her legs and was suffering from smoke inhalation. She had to be treated at the emergency pet hospital with oxygen and wear a cone of shame to try to keep her from scratching her healing burns.

Milly is going to be okay, though, and is expected to make a full recovery. The house is a shell, but the Millers know what’s important. Without the assistance of the kind, brave helpers, Milly would not have survived the night.

Justin publicly thanked them for saving Milly. The perfect stranger who helped came because he heard her cries for help. He said she was so hot when he picked her up that that was how he got burns on his biceps. He was treated by emergency responders and will also be all right. He is glad he got to help and do the right thing.

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Norris the Tiny Piglet Captures Hearts

Danielle S

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Imagine being a policeman and stumbling upon a tiny piglet while doing rounds in the Commercial Township of New Jersey. That’s exactly what happened to a car of two state troopers who found the adorable oink animal wandering the streets lost and confused. 

Not one to sidestep any efforts in helping the cause, the state trooper scooped up the piglet and began searching for his rightful owner. As an officer who is familiar with farm animals, he brought the little guy home to make certain he was out of harm’s way. The kind policeman named him Norris. It felt unique and perfect for the intelligent creature. 

Norris is a piglet with magical qualities. Besides capturing the hearts of the state troopers, he’s also been one to allure the community into understanding how essential piglets are to families and farms. It’s a joy to watch him walk around the neighborhood with his tiny feet, curly tail, and loveable eyes. One can’t help but want to hold him, spend time with him, and pretend he belongs to them for a day.

At first, the troopers wanted to search for the family who lost Norris, yet once one cop decided to take him home to cuddle him and keep him safe, the Cumberland County police station had a visitor from the farmer who ended up looking for the pint-sized piglet at the same time. He walked in and realized how kind the troopers were to hold his Norris in proper custody that he gave them a small reward of “whenever you want to visit with Norris, or have him come to the station to spread his joy he’s always there for you.”

Those were music to the ears of the on-duty and off-duty police officers in Commercial Township. Since they’re always responding to crime and drama in the community, it’s a blessing to have a different type of interaction that involves one of nature’s own. Safe to say that Norris is the little piggy who cried “wee wee wee all the way home!”

Whenever Norris is out and about at his home and farm, all eyes are now ready to watch for his moves and whereabouts. He has the charm that melts hearts and brings happiness to whomever he meets. His family is as gracious and wonderful as Norris, thus it’s no wonder he comes from a loving environment and can show others how to feel good and peaceful as well.

A truly wonderful ending to this story is how Norris made the cutest squeaky piglet sounds when leaving the police station with his farmer guardian. Almost as if he was saying goodbye and thank you to his saviors. As grateful as Norris and his family are that he’s home safe and sound, they’re also willing to show you their other farm animals, and the delightful cozy pen Norris gets to call his own. 

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