Connect with us


A Sense of Connection: Special Needs Children and Animals Find Each Other

Amanda J




One of the hardest things about having a disability is the feeling that you are different from others and can’t fit in. Children with a disability have an even harder time because other children are mean to anyone who is even a little bit different. Finding someone who can relate to you can make all the difference in the world.

This is what has happened for some special children on a farm in Texas. Safe in Austin! is an animal sanctuary just outside of Austin where there are a variety of animals, including goats, pigs, horses, cows, cats, dogs, bunnies, tortoises, and even birds. They take in neglected and abused creatures and nurse them back to health, and many of them are re-homed, while others will live out their lives on the farm, safe and happy with the other rescues.

The people at Safe in Austin! understand the effect their animals have on children, and there are many stories on the website about how the rescues have helped children. As they point out, animals do not judge us or criticize us, so it can be easier to open up to an animal than a person, knowing how people constantly judge each other.

The sanctuary helped a particular bunch of youngsters who discovered that they had something in common with some of the animals on the farm. One little girl named Harper has a congenital hand abnormality that makes her right hand smaller, and she has one less finger than most of us. When Harper was visiting Safe in Austin!, she discovered that she wasn’t completely alone when she met a turkey that had a similar kind of difference. What Harper’s parents call her “lucky hand” is similar to Priscilla the rescue turke’s “lucky claw,” a condition she was born with.

Harper is 5 now, and has been visiting with Priscilla for 3 years. But Priscilla is just one of over 150 animals that have a history of abuse, neglect, or other special needs and live on the farm together. Safe in Austin! offers their refuge as a safe haven for people too, when they have special needs, mental health challenges, or past traumatic experiences that make it difficult for them to deal with people.

Jamie Wallace-Grine, the founder of Safe in Austin!, says that she became inspired to start the rescue when she saw the impact her autistic son’s service dog Angel had on him. While she says the goal is to rescue animals from abuse and neglect, she also says of people that “we invite hearts that need some healing to come meet the animals, hear their stories, hug their necks, pet their bellies, and find connection in a relationship that is without judgment or fear.” The rescue was started in 2014 when they bought an old, broken down, untended farm and started the process of rehabilitating it. Since then they have taken in many animals and they happily take community support but they also welcome everyone.



A Dog Saves a Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Their Sleep

Amanda J



Humans have two things working in their advantage by having a dog as a pet: dogs have an amazingly keen sense of smell, and they pick up on things outside of the ordinary that people usually miss. Carbon monoxide is one of those dangers, as proven by one dog in Iowa saving his sleeping owner from a probably serious medical issue that could have resulted in death.

Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous gas to be exposed to because it can’t be seen or smelled. However, it has the ability to replace oxygen in a confined space, causing people to pass out. If they stay too long, it can eventually kill via oxygen starvation.

Brad Harbert was taking a nap one afternoon when his dog suddenly started going bananas. The dog jumped up on the bed and wouldn’t stop making a racket until Brad got up. Once he did, the dog jumped off and started running down the hall for Brad to follow. The dog owner was with it enough to realize he was hearing an alarm chirping, and it wasn’t the fire alarm. When he got close, Brad realized it was the carbon monoxide alarm going off, which meant somewhere in the house CO was being emitted and collecting to a dangerous amount.

CO can come from a number of sources that are typical in a home. The most common risk areas are the oven and the heating system. Normally, these appliances are designed to vent the CO out and away from the home, so there’s no risk inside. However, when the systems develop a leak, then the gas can escape into the house and build up over time.

Realizing the problem, Brad got everyone up, dressed and out of the house as he called for emergency help. Eventually, the fire department showed up, and it turned out the leak culprit was the fireplace, plumbed for gas. Brad is the first to admit, had it not been for the family dog, the family might not have made it through the night, never discovering the leak before they woke up.

Some states require a CO monitor to be installed on every floor of the home and common areas, but it’s not required nationwide. And at least 400 people die annually as a result of being exposed to too much CO and not being helped in time. Fireplaces are a big culprit and should be checked and maintained regularly to avoid leakage problems.

The early symptoms of CO tend to be very similar to having the flu. Victims realize painful headaches, get flushed in the face, start to suffer from nausea and vomiting, and dizziness sets in as well. Serious conditions trigger chest pains, a state of confusion and, ultimately, the person loses consciousness. Being removed from the confined environment and fed pure oxygen is a must in these situations to avoid death.

For Brad Harbert, he and his family will see another day thanks to their dog, but a pet is not always possible for others. Fortunately, CO monitors can be easily bought at any hardware store and installed in a matter of minutes for similar alarm notice protection. It’s worth the few dollars they cost, especially since CO can’t be detected otherwise.

Continue Reading


A Bird-Particular Christmas Gift





New Zealand conservationists should be pretty proud of themselves this holiday season. They gained a huge advantage and leap forward with the hatching of 18 new kaki/black stilt chicks this December 2021, a long-awaited improvement for the local endangered bird species. 18 additional birds have the potential to give new life to a New Zealand bird population struggling to maintain its numbers. The birds were born at the Twizel bird brooding program over a couple of days, according to the country’s Department of Conservation.

In total, New Zealand has only 170 birds left known in the wild. To have 18 new hatchlings arrive all at the same time is really out of the norm and represents an ideal birth condition for the birds and their caretakers at the Twizel hatchery. Usually, the program is lucky if it is able to hatch one additional one bird per Christmas. The winter season is practically the end of the hatching cycle, but researchers are attributing the sudden burst to a climate impact and a late start to nesting for the birds.

The eggs were not laid at the facility. Instead, Conservation crews picked up the eggs from wild nests as well as captive kaki that were already mated and producing, and then the eggs were incubated at the Twizel facility for the maximum advantage in growing and hatching. The program is one of the foremost efforts in helping the kaki stilt and preserving what is internationally recognized as among the rarest of wading birds globally. Most times the bird species naturally habitate rivers, streams, wetlands, swamps and similar water-borne areas of the Te Manahuna region. However, at its worst, the remaining population was decimated down to 23 remaining adult birds by 1981. Now that population has increased sixfold at least, but the Conservation program is dedicated to producing much more.

Even after being born, there’s still a tremendous amount of work to keep them alive and healthy to grow. They are fed on schedule three times daily, monitored and examined for signs of infection, the nests are cleaned out and the birds are given exercise when possible. Only when the chicks have survived 30 plus days are they then moved to the larger aviary section of the program to help with flight development.

For a water-based bird, the kaki stilt is particularly prone to being vulnerable. Predatory animals like to catch it near the waterline, and their young tend to be susceptible to bacterial infections until they get a few weeks under their belt in survival. The Conservation program has been a key factor in the survival of the species and increasing their number, which was dwindling in the wild. And, if the program can continue the current boom in hatchlings, success should be possible over the next decade.

Continue Reading


Renowned Actor Michael Sheen Foregoes Profit to Help the Needy

Amanda J



Hollywood actor Michael Sheen is not just famous for his exceptional skills in front of the camera but also his philanthropic deeds behind the scenes. The British monarchy decided to honor him for his contributions by bestowing the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

It is a British command of knighthood that honors those who have contributed a great deal to the arts and sciences, humanitarian causes, and public good beyond the government. But Sheen has since rescinded the award.

When Sheen proclaimed himself a “not-for-profit” leading man, he disclosed how he decided to sell his residences and donated the money to the poor.

Arranging the 2019 Homeless World Cup in Cardiff was a defining moment for the Welsh movie star and advocate, 52, who gave up his OBE in 2020 because he would chastise the monarchy without appearing a “hypocrite.”

To pay for the £2 million endeavors, Sheen had to sell his own homes at the last minute.

Said in an interview with the Big Issue: “I put up two houses, one in America, one here, and I just did anything it ended up taking. It was terrifying and incredibly challenging.” It’s going to cost me a lot of money in the long run.”

Having emerged from the other side, Sheen recognized that his fortune and prestige are beneficial in several different ways.

To avoid ruining himself after recouping from his economic struggles, he pledged to use the money obtained from his starring role for charitable causes and upcoming projects.

Since I know, I’ll be able to make it back in the long run. There was a liberating aspect to putting money into things like this or that.”

“To put it another way, I’ve transformed myself into a non-profit actor and a social enterprise.

Sheen has a long list of charities he supports as a benefactor. His 2017 initiative, the End High-Cost Credit Alliance, aims to provide consumers with lower-cost financing options.

One of Labour’s most vocal supporters, Sheen decided to donate £50,000 over five years to an Oxford University scholarship for Welsh pupils.

After a 72-hour development of The Passion throughout the roadways of his old neighborhood Port Talbot in 2011, he disclosed that it was his first “pivotal moment” in his existence after he starred in that role. Sheen, widely recognized for his character acting and leading actor of Frost/Nixon, Good Omens, and The Damned United.

“I managed to meet people and organizations in my hometown I had never met before.”

“Just a little bit of funding was available to small organizations that were trying to make a difference in the lives of young carers by providing one night per week where they could go bowling or see a movie and have fun.

After a few months, I would return and find that the organization no longer existed. “I would come back and find that the organization no longer existed.”

“That child’s life could have been a little better or a little worse if they had got a small level of funding.

That’s why I decided to help them, too,” he continued. “My goal was to do more than be a benefactor or a sympathetic voice. That’s when I realized that I need to return to Wales and live there once more.”

Continue Reading


Gas Station Attendants Get Surprise Pies and Gift Cards for Thanksgiving from Resident

Danielle S



Believe it or not, gas station workers provide essential services, and unfortunately, people often overlook them and the blue of their service. They are there for the community morning, noon and nighttime. You can depend on them for accessibility even when your grocery store has closed.

When you’ve forgotten that all-important item for your meal preparation or that bottle of wine for the party, and even the case of beer for the football game, the gas station attendants keep their doors open for your convenience.

It’s no surprise then that even during a time such as Thanksgiving, when people are preparing feasts or traveling all over to be with family, they remain available. We can get fuel as we travel or grab those last-minute items you desperately need to make your event a success.

One man took it upon himself this year to make the gas station attendants in his neighborhood know that what they do is highly appreciated after catching his attention during the height of the pandemic last year. After all, that is what the focus of Thanksgiving regards.

Countless gas station workers sacrifice time with loved ones on Thanksgiving to employ people, says one Herriman resident. A little something extra was what Josh Downs had in mind for this year’s event.

This Thanksgiving, Downs ended up without his two girls. Because of this, he resolved to go and do something somewhat out of the ordinary and give pies and gift certificates to the people keeping the gas and fast food flowing for the holidays.

In an interview, Downs said, “I just desired to do something that could give back to the society which I’ve been a member of for so many years.

He thanked convenience store employees who were unable to spend Thanksgiving with their family members.

A small token of appreciation for those who work long hours away from loved ones so that others like him can spend time with theirs, he explained, would be delivered to as many service stations as possible.

While at the gas station on Thanksgiving Day, the attendant invited him to join in the discussion.

When she couldn’t be with her friends and family, she chose to work so that others would be able to enjoy time with their families, Downs said.

He needed to demonstrate to her how much he cared about her.

The memory of bringing a tray of Thanksgiving food from the kitchen to her has remained with Downs ever since.

Downs initiated a fundraising campaign called #GiveThanksForGas this year, and 70 people contributed. “We received more than $3,200. That’s how it went from just five pies to a whopping 40,” he stated.

Each pie had a $100 gift voucher and a note of thanks attached. About what they’re doing, Downs said, “only a little individual thank-you note.”

The gas station attendants were amazed and gratefully received the deliveries made by Downs and several of his pals. When he’s at the service station, he’s generally rushing around like everyone else; however, not this Thanksgiving Day.

Instead of rushing to get where you’re going, “I slowed the pace down and identified the opportunities we have just to make a significant difference in our daily expeditions,” Downs explained.

The Daily Drive is the name of his podcast. Short, faith-based messages communicated by him to encourage more people to search for ways to serve and share.

Millions of people celebrate Thanksgiving every year with friends and family, but unfortunately, many have no families, or they’re unable to be with them for various reasons. What Downs did is one of the many ways people can help bring joy to individuals who would have otherwise spent the day sad.

Continue Reading


Scientists Find New Whale Species; Names it After Indigenous Female for the First Time

Sarrah M



For the first time in history, a whale species will get its name from a female. Another history-making fact is that the name is indigenous. It goes to show the level of interest in science from all races and cultures and the vastness of it.

Previously, whales got their names from males and western scientists, a tradition that’s coming to an end. A Mtauranga Mori whale specialist, Ramari Stewart, named the whale Mesoplodon eueu, referring to its South African origins.

Scientists had assumed that the animal could be a True’s beaked whale until a female washed up on the shores of Aotearoa, New Zealand, nearly an entire decade earlier. A five-meter-long female was a sight to behold. The tribe of Ngati Mhaki iwi labeled her Nihongore, and her remains are now in Wellington’s Te Papa Tongarewa Museum for conservation and protection.

The first time Ramari Stewart saw Nihongore, “I truly believed she was exceptional since I had never seen anything like her before,” she explains.

Throughout the Mori culture, Ramari Stewart is an acclaimed Tohunga Tohoro (whale researcher) raised by her ancestors (sea). Waipapa Taumata Rau and biologist Dr. Emma Carroll from the University of Auckland may draw together the worlds of Mtauranga Mori and scientific research to learn the whale’s early history and environment.

When it came time to get Nihongore ready for Te Papa, Rami introduced a wealth of experience to the venture. Ramari’s Mtauranga, as well as western expertise on dolphins and whales, earned her the distinction of having this genus labeled after her. Because ‘Ramari’ signifies unusual in Te Reo (Mori), that’s a homage towards the beaked whales’ mysterious existence, explains Dr. Carroll.

As they worked with a worldwide organization of experts, New Zealand scientists previously assumed it was the first True’s beaked whale discovered in the nation. There was a noticeable difference in the biology and skeleton form of the southeastern ‘True’s’ whales to those in the northern region.

Since they don’t like the warm water near the equator, the whales remained hidden for about half a million years. They are two different kinds of organisms.

Having Western science begin to recognize the importance of Mtauranga Mori and the pair acting together is a marvelous development. Ramari Stewart explains that instead of just developing a link and confiscating from Aboriginal specialists, they both should sit around the table.

The percentage of beaked whale life forms increased to 24 as a result of this finding. Due to their large size and the fact that they must surface to breathe, these are the most prominent occupants of the seafloor.

Mammals that can dive to depths of hundreds or thousands of feet are in this group. Since few specimens appear anywhere, the Ramari’s beaked whale is likely to spend most of its time offshore in open waters.

The male samples included in this study have the genus Mesoplodon eueu, which links them to their roots in South Africa, where the Khoisan peoples live. The word eueu, which means “big fish” in the Khwedam dialect, was chosen by the Khoisan Council. Languages spoken by people who lived close to the shore, on which they found the trapped whales, are now obsolete.

Dr. Emma Carroll’s studies are being released in the worldwide publication “Proceedings of the Royal Society B” in partnership with a global organization of more than thirty researchers.

Continue Reading