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As Penguin Population Drops, Island Residents Send in Dogs to Save the Day





Middle island is a rocky outcropping just off the southwestern shores of Victoria, Australia. Located a short drive away from the city of Warrnambool, Middle Island would quickly gain a reputation for its teeming wildlife population. More specifically, Middle Island became a national point of pride thanks to the many breeding colonies of Eudyptula Minor and Ardenna Tenuirostris located on the property.

Due to its close proximity to the shore, Middle Island has become particularly beholden to predators during its low tide. Foxes and stray dogs have increasingly found the island to utilize it as a source of food, killing hundreds of penguins along the way. As a result of this dramatic and steep decline in the population of penguins on Middle Island, the Maremma Sheepdog project would come to fruition.

Meet the Little Penguins of Middle Island

The smallest known species of penguin, the Little Penguin — or Korora — reaches an average height of 13 inches and an average length of 17 inches. Found throughout Southern Australia as well as New Zealand, the Little Penguin has been calling Middle Island its home for more than 30 years when thousands of little animals covered the area.

As natural predators made their way to Middle Island, it was clear that the penguin population could not sustain itself against their onslaughts. Low tide would become synonymous with chaos and residents in the area knew that the penguins wouldn’t last forever if the issue were not addressed. Rather than simply watching as the penguins were eradicated by predators, locals decided to get involved with the Maremma Sheepdog Project.

Protecting Penguins: Mission for the Maremma Sheepdog

Major problems often require creative solutions and that is exactly how the Maremma Sheepdog project came to life. A local chicken farmer by the name of Allan Marsh would go on to suggest that the Maremma breed be used to protect local penguin colonies. This breed of dog had long been used for the protection and transportation of livestock, so the plan made sense from the beginning. Marsh would go on to say, “There was a penguin colony constantly being marauded by foxes.”

Maremmas have been bred for centuries as livestock guardians indigenous throughout Italy, particularly Southern Italy’s Tuscany region. Marsh would take his suggestion to the Warrnambool City Council, and it was that governing body that would approve a month-long trial. Marsh would complete the trial by pointing out, “The presence of the dogs kept foxes from going on the island.”

Ever since the project was first established, the penguin population has continued to surge in response. From potential threat of extinction to fully protected colonies, there are now close to 200 Little Penguins on the island and county with breeding occurring every season. Trish Corbett would head the Middle Island Penguin Project and opine, “We know the dogs work — it’s fantastic.”

While the Maremmano Sheep Dog has become a savior for penguins in Middle Island, they continue to perform as admirable livestock guardians throughout Central and Southwestern Italy.



A Homemade Bench Shows up the Local Government





Sometimes a person just has to take matters into his own hands.

Today, a simple but powerful bench is located on a particular street in the town of A Estrada, Spain. The bench is nothing in terms of anything fancy, but the story behind it makes the outdoor furniture very unique.

A Couple Just Wanted to Keep Up Daily Walks

The carpenter who crafted the wooden bench was a former lathe craftsman. However, years after his career, he realized in his 80s both he and his wife needed a simple place to sit as they walked back and forth when going for a daily walk. Walking has been strongly advised for seniors worldwide in terms of keeping their mobility and mental acuity, but for Manuel Souto and his wife, Maria, things were getting a bit harder due to her osteoarthritis. Simply put, walking was becoming more difficult.

A simple bench along the normal walkway would have made a big difference, so Manuel pitched to the local city council a request for benches to be installed. Unfortunately, the council wasn’t interested in the idea and refused. So, Manuel decided to solve the problem himself.

Solving a Problem the Old-Fashioned Way

In about 30 minutes or so, according to Manuel, he was able to craft the bench. With some wood, a home saw and a bit of creativity, Manuel shaped, cut, formed and finished a working bench that could sit at least two people in a sturdy fashion without any concern. Of course, in hindsight, the bench could have used a bit more work and some protective veneer, but the assembly did the job. So, with the approval of the local shop owner, Manuel had the bench installed outside right on the Suotos daily walking path.

Maria loved the bench. As soon as she saw the outdoor furniture and realized it’s purpose, she turned and gave Manuel a big hug and kiss. Of course, being a public bench, the Soutos aren’t the only ones using the town bench. Many locals love it as well as visitors. However, Manuel has made it clear the bench should be made available to seniors as first priority. Of course, his methods are simplistic as they are direct; he left the message on the bench with a permanent marker pen.

No Ramifications

The council might have been a put off a bit by the upstaging Manuel pulled off, but they haven’t reacted with much more. Manuel jokes he could be arrested, but then somebody would have to provide him with his smoking tobacco. Overall though, people have been quite positive about the whole affair. And, no surprise, Manuel has gotten repeated requests for more benches. Unfortunately, he’s not interested in starting a whole new career at 82. Manuel is quite happy with the one that he shares with his wife on their walks.

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Hero Risks Life to Save Drowning Woman — and They Fall in Love!

Danielle S



When Nupur Gupta waded into the Arabian Sea off the balmy beaches that speckle Goa’s coastline, she did not know what was about to happen. Gupta had been visiting Goa, India, for a two-week vacation retreat for yoga enthusiasts. It was early 2019 and the weather was warm, bright, and balmy. At the time, Goa’s beaches were brimming with a warm glow while the sea beckoned Gupta in. What could go wrong?

By the time that Gupta realized she had been pulled out to sea, it had become too late. Gupta says to CNN Travel, “I tried not to panic.” Or at least that was what she thought. Instead, a figure appeared in the water and her life was saved.

Miracle and the Sea

Goa is located on the southwestern coast of India, geographically located within the region we know as Konkan. Goa has a huge international tourism sector that continues to grow by leaps and bounds thanks to the beautiful white-sand beaches and rich natural wonders surrounding the region. For Nupur Gupta, a visit to Goa meant an escape from her grind and a chance to refresh at a yoga retreat. It also meant that she would come close to drowning at sea.

When Gupta realized that she had been pulled too far from shore to easily swim back, she had to stop herself from panicking. Taking deep breaths, Gupta shifted her focus toward incremental progress. “If I constantly and with consistency keep swimming… I might make it.”

By the time that Gupta realized the error in her thought process, it was too late. Her arms were failing and her strength was going with it. As she began to crawl back to shore through the waves, the current kept dragging her back, pushing her further away from the surface.

It was at this moment when it would have been so easy to give up, that a miracle manifested. Gupta said of that moment, “Then I saw this man coming towards me.”

Meet Attila Bosnyak

Attila Bosnyak had been visiting India from his home in the Netherlands. A financial adviser comfortably in his forties, Bosnyak was also a student at the yoga retreat that Gupta had been attending. A strong swimmer and apparently an alert one as well, Bosnyak saw Gupta’s struggle and dove into the waves after her.

As Bosnyak neared Gupta, he felt the waves get stronger with the current. Despite his lack of fear, he was still struggling. It was at the last moment that Bosnyak struck out his arm. Gupta says of that moment, “He came very close to me but just about that time, I was pulled in by the ocean.”

Bosnyak knew he wasn’t strong enough to haul Gupta back to shore. Trying to remain as calm as possible, Bosnyak would help Gupta swim to a cluster of rocks nearby. They figured that they could climb onto the rocks and hold on for dear life while waiting for a lifeguard to notice. The process was rocky and Gupta thought several times that her savior might lose his way, but they eventually made it.

After making it to the rock, Bosnyak climbed atop before pulling Gupta after him. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a lifeguard saw them atop the rocks. It was around this time that Bosnyak realized he had been covered in bloody scratches from holding onto Gupta and the rocks.

Once they returned to shore, Gupta and Bosnyak would spend time together. Gupta would run to a nearby store where she’d get disinfectant and, randomly, chocolate ice cream to share. Bosnyak says, “I think that was the magic moment.”

Bosnyak and Gupta would end up traveling the world, visiting Bosnyak’s family in the Netherlands, before officially getting married on March 21, 2020.

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Couple Adopts Deaf Norfolk Sheepdog And Trains Her With Sign Language

Amanda J



Oftentimes you hear that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but this sheepdog you’re about to learn about proved that adage wrong.

Nothing is impossible when an individual or an animal in this case is determined to accomplish it and this dog has achieved a major feat.

When a sheepdog could no longer hear and lost her ability to assist with farm work, she was surrendered to the RSPCA. The dog was taught a kind of sign language, allowing her to “resume the job she loved very much.”

In 2018, a charity team member went ahead and adopted Peggy who is a collie. The woman’s husband works as a shepherd in Norfolk.

The couple started the lengthy process of teaching Peggy to herd via the use of hand signals instead of the typical voice commands.

Along with the couple’s two other pets, Peggy is now living part-time with them.

Peggy was a “bright and successful sheepdog,” however she ended up losing the ability to hear and therefore her potential to communicate with her handler, according to the RSPCA.

The Mid and North Norfolk branches of the charity received the dog from a farmer. The eight-year-old dog ended up where animal welfare manager Chloe Shorten served.

It was just before Christmas that Peggy headed home to dwell with the Shortens as well as their two additional sheep dogs who worked on the farm because there was no space in the kennels.

Mrs Shorten said, they were aware that Peggy wanted to work, so they began the extended procedure of instructing the dog being able to herd and toil alongside a shepherd with no need to depend on vocal commands.

They began by instructing her to recognize hand gestures by looking at us.

Instead of combining a verbal order with an activity, they’d utilize a physical hand gesture, the author said.

Peggy learned to read hand signs and body language with the aid of a sheepdog teacher.

Mrs Shorten said the process took time, and Peggy had to understand that they love her – and comprehend when they were praising her.

She explained that giving a thumbs up meant “nice girl.”

Although the collie is basically retired, she still works with Mrs Shorten’s husband on occasion. Peggy is required to don a GPS bracelet during play time because she races around so fast and is unable to hear when her owners beckon her to return.

Mrs Shorten said, it’s wonderful to look at Peggy having this new focus on life and loving her life with her family.

She added that Peggy is evidence that an old dog can learn new tricks and is a perfect example of a dog’s capability – even if they happen to lose any of their senses.

Meanwhile, Peggy continues to work happily on the farm as though she never lost her hearing. Additionally, it appears that retirement is just a word because she shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

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95-year-old Veteran Gets Surprise Parade For His Birthday

Liz L




These days, living to retirement has been eluding many, whether because of a pandemic, chronic illness, car accident, and all the different factors that have been shortening the life expectancy of many.

Therefore, it is a big deal when some can live to see their 95th birthday and be in their right frame of mind to enjoy it and express their appreciation.

That was the case for a senior citizen recently who got the surprise of his life when the entire town celebrated his special day with him uniquely and beautifully, leaving him in awe.

Just over a year ago, Vermont was planning for an extraordinary shutdown due to a pandemic that shook the world to its core. It was on March 7, 2020, the date of Jim Hasson’s 94th birthday.

Now, one year later, things were looking up on Sunday, the Cavendish man’s ninety-fifth birthday. He’d just had his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine and sat in a chair lounging in the vicinity of Main Street under a chilly light blue sky.

Those inside waved, honked, and shouted birthday greetings as a surprise convoy consisting of over fifty fire units, police cars, and passenger vehicles drove by where he was seated.

Some people attired in masks, pulled up to salute Hasson and deliver treats and cards to the elderly veteran. Hasson’s smile could be seen right through his mask.

Despite his age, Mr. Hasson has an amazing sense of humor and is able to find humor in most situations.

Mr. Hasson joked that if he had known reaching age ninety-five would have been such a pleasure, he would have definitely hit that milestone eons ago and that he isn’t used to being in the spotlight, but it was a memorable day for him.

Last spring, Seven Days met the retired plumber, a World War II, and Vietnam War veteran, at the dwelling he and one of his sons shared at the cul-de-sac of an extended dirt road.

Hasson was feeling pretty down without the phone, TV, or the meals he shared with friends at a Senior Center in Woodstock.

He was positively giddy throughout a phone interview on Monday. He thought about the birthday parade and the scores of greeting cards that had been presented to him.

Three of his four daughters, as well as his toddler great-granddaughter, who resides in Martha’s Vineyard, attended the gathering.

Mr. Hasson continued his wit by saying, “If one desires to be a hero, the trick is to outlive everyone else,” laughing at his own joke. He’s definitely anticipating being released from the COVID-19 shut down one of these days, and he’s relieved to have made it this far.

Every day was an adventure, Hasson said as he reflected on his time in the military and as a country plumber in the Cavendish region.

It is clear that he plans to hit the ground running soon because he not only got both his vaccines but also began hanging out in the vicinity of the roadway.

Those are clear indicators that the 95-year-old man plans to live to be a century-old and have fun while doing so.

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After 15 Years Apart, Lost Cat Reunites With Owner Against All Odds

Amanda J



There are few relationships in life more important than the one between a pet and its owner. Whether you are a cat-lover, a dog-lover, or an equestrian aficionado, the furry friends we invite into our lives can play a huge role within them. We all hear horror stories about the pets that run away or the ones that go missing, but what about the stories of pets and their long-lost owners reuniting? What about them?

In today’s story, we are going to dive into one of the least likely pet-related stories you are going to read about. Revolving around Charles Benezra, his beloved kitten, and the 15 years they spent apart, you’ll have to read this story to believe it!

A Kitten, An Adoption, and the City of Northridge

Our story begins with a visit to Northridge, a neighborhood located within the City of Los Angeles. Nestled in the San Fernando Valley, Northridge was originally settled in 1908. Known as the home for California State University and its high concentration of four-year degree holders, Northridge is where a man by the name of Charles Benezra first decided he wanted to adopt a kitten.

Benezra had searched around the area for a place to adopt a kitten before settling on a small gray tabby. The gray tabby cat is incredibly common and argued to be one of the most aesthetically appealing felines around! Gray tabby cats are revered for making quality housemates and Charles was surely thinking about that when he brought home his beloved furry friend.

Charles had adopted his kitten while she was still only a few months old, still in the thick of her growing season. Like a responsible pet owner, Charles decided to get a microchip for his cat. Microchips are harmless implants roughly the size of a grain of rice. These implants use frequency identification tech to tie pets back to their owners, and they are often used to identify lost and missing animals.

One day, Charles decided to let his small tabby out onto the deck for some rest and relaxation under the sun. Unfortunately for Charles, the gray tabby would decide to run off — leaving him and his household behind! Charles waited as long as he could, but the cat never returned. Benezra would spend weeks and months looking for the cat but eventually, he would lose heart. Until…

Palmdale Animal Care Center Saves the Day

Upon giving up on his search for the gray tabby that had been his own, Charles would begin to lose hope. After all, there are about 70 million estimated stray cats living in the United States of America alone!

Right when Charles was ready to give up on his long-lost (15 years!) cat, he would receive an unlikely phone call from the Palmdale Animal Care Center. Not only did they think they found his cat, but the cat was still alive, well, and completely healthy! Charles would haul off to the Palmdale Animal Care Center to see if the story could truly be as they described. Was his gray tabby from 15 years ago back in his life?

Upon arrival, it was hard not to argue that Charles was emotional. Benezra would say, “She weighed about the same size as when she was a kitten.”

After picking up the long-lost gray tabby, Benezra would smile as the cat began to per instantly. The Palmdale Animal Care Center had identified the microchip and tied it back to Benezra. The cat’s fond memory of his prior owner had done the rest, instantly recognizing Charles the second they had reconnected!

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