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Humpback Whale — A Video to Build a Dream on…

Liz L

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Whale-watching is a popular tourist pastime, but it’s a difficult activity to predict. You can watch the migration patterns of whales, but  you’re never guaranteed a view of a whale. That’s why a recent video that was captured of a breaching whale is so spectacular. 

Photographer Douglas Croft and whale watcher Kate Cummings were in a boat on the Monterey Bay in California during salmon season. It’s also a popular time for whale-watching, because whales return to their feeding grounds in the bay to hunt for food. So, they were hoping to see some whales breaching in the distance. What they saw was something better than their wildest expectations. 

Emergence From the Bay

They saw a humpback whale in the distance, and they could see the direction the whale was going, so they turned their boat that way in the hope that they could get closer to the whale. Not only did Douglas and Kate see a humpback whale breach, but it was a full emergence from the bay and it happened right by a fisherman’s boat nearby. The whale emerged out of the water, narrowly missing the boat and create a resounding displacement of water as it returned to the water. They were able to experience an event that even many marine biologists who spend years studying whales have never had the opportunity to experience. 

A Dream Come True

There’s nothing quite like experiencing a humpback whale even if it’s at a distance, so seeing one up close is spectacular.  Your view is filtered through the video on to screen, but it’s impressive nonetheless. But why do we care? Why are we in awe? Why does it matter?

Such an experience is memorable for a number of reasons. Humpback whales have been the focus of conservation efforts to prevent their endangerment and extinction. While international conservation effort shows positive signs of successfully averting the eminent demise of these glorious creatures, so many challenges remain. It’s more important than ever to recognize and seek to reverse the negative effects that we’re having on the oceans.

Close encounters with whales like this help us to understand and appreciate them. It also gives us something tangible. We can see and feel the magnitude of this creature. It feels so close in the video that we could reach right out and touch it. It doesn’t feel like it’s a whale that’s struggling on the other side of the world. It feels real. It’s eminent, and it becomes a reality that you and your family can do something about. Yes, it’s a dream come true, but it’s a reality that our children can experience right now. If we think about it in the context of Dr. Seuss and The Lorax, there are the memorable lines: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.” That’s important here too, because you care about that monumental whale. And, you can make a difference. 

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When the Cowboy Walks Into the Tractor Store and It’s No Joke

Danielle S

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A cowboy walks into a Tractor store with his horse. It sounds so much like a joke that you might be waiting for the punchline. But it really happened, according to Robin Morris, who posted about her experience on Facebook. Morris described the man as elderly, and said that he walked right up to one of the staff and asked about the pet policy. The gist of the discussion was about whether they’d count his horse as a pet on a leash if he brought him inside the store.  The answer, of course, was a definitive yes. 

A Caring Friend 

The elderly cowboy was as worried about his hoofed friend as anyone would be for a 4-pawed pal. It was warm outside, and he didn’t want to leave his horse to stand in the heat while he purchased the feed. It’s just that you probably have never seen a horse in a store before, even if it was a feed-and-farming equipment store. So, even the idea seems bound for an Old West tale or legend.  

The cowboy rides up to the store, dismounts from his horse, and then leads his mount into the building. It’s the stuff out of some unexpected alternate universe or freaky legend. It demonstrates not only the depths to which a cowboy will go for his friend, but it also allows us to see the kindness and worth of fellow human beings. 

  1. The Tractor Store had a policy of allowing pets and their owners to visit the store together, as long as a leash is used.  
  2. The cowboy cared enough about his 4-hoofed friend to ask for permission to make sure that the horse’s presence was acceptable.  
  3. The staff were open and kind enough to allow the man to bring his horse into the store.  

It may have been the first time a man ever led a horse into the store. Given the acceptance and openness of the Tractor Store, it could be just the first of many such incidents. If they allowed one cowboy to walk through the store with his horse, what will the rest of the menagerie of animals look like? 

The Rest of the Story 

Beyond the story of the cowboy who walked into the Tractor Store, and even led his horse across the store, there are the witnesses. It must have been a shock to see a man with a horse following so close behind him. Even if it did seem surreal, Morris captured the experience via video. The incident was so out-of-the-ordinary and heart-warming that the story and video immediately inspired a viral reception.  

You don’t have to be an animal lover or a fan of Old Westerns to appreciate the idea that the depths of friendship can be found in all forms, shapes, and sizes. There’s also a tie in with age and wisdom, which leads to an understanding and appreciation. It doesn’t just happen overnight. It can’t be fully understood by onlookers, but even the casual observer can see that the horse and his cowboy have a special connection.  

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Homeless Dogs Are Being Re-Homed After Hurricane Florence

Danielle S

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In September of 2018, Hurricane Florence ravaged West Africa, Bermuda, Cape Verde, and the East Coast of the United States. The hurricane’s impact was devastating, with over 30,000 homes destroyed by the record amounts of rainfall. The damage was costly, with an estimated $17 billion spent to restore Carolina structures.

The storm affected animals as well as people. Most pet owners make sure to bring their pets along during an evacuation. However, not all pet owners do this; some leave behind their cats and dogs. Shelter animals are also vulnerable during storm evacuations. During the chaos of a hurricane evacuation, it’s often up to rescuers and aid workers to take care of animals that have been left behind. And that is what happened with Hurricane Florence, with rescuers worked around the clock to find and aid animals at risk.

But rescue workers weren’t the only ones to step up to the plate; during the height of Hurricane Florence, members of the community volunteered to take in shelter animals during the storm. This effort was organized by Saving Grace, a nonprofit organization that helps to re-home homeless animals. As news of Hurricane Florence broke out, Saving Grace staff members sent out a call to aid from animal lovers within the community. The organization posted this note on Facebook: “We are working with our Eastern North Carolina shelters today to evacuate some pretty precious cargo! Please sign up to host a dog through our website.”

The nonprofit posted similar messages across various social media platforms. After Saving Grace sent out the call to aid, animal lovers in the community lined up to foster the homeless animals from Hurricane Florence. One of the foster volunteers was Ali Standish, who posted the shelter’s lines to Twitter. The photos posted to social media depicted an organized effort, with leashes, collars, and packages being handed out to the volunteers under tents. Ali ended up taking home Floyd, a puppy that liked to cuddle with her on the couch. After posting heartwarming photos of her time spent with Floyd, Ali was flooded with positive messages praising her for helping the animal shelter situation. While some Twitter users called her a hero, Ali made sure to thank the staff members of Saving Grace for their amazing work. She also posted other updates of Floyd, writing about how often the puppy has slept in the aftermath of the storm in one tweet. 

Saving Grace also posted updates on social media, photographing empty cages to show what a successful effort the fostering effort had been. On Facebook, the nonprofit posted the following message: “We are grateful for those individuals in our community who stepped up yesterday to open their homes to 124 Saving Grace dogs… We may have a small shelter but our volunteers and the difference they make in the lives of many is huge!”

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Dog’s Owner Cannot Receive Package Meant for Dog Without Dog’s Photo ID and Signature…?

Liz L

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Many people think of the post office as a place that represents unnecessary government at work. Well, most people think about the government post office as this bureaucracy until a package doesn’t arrive. Then, people often wonder why the post office doesn’t have more resources at its disposal. In reality, the post office simply does the best with the tremendous responsibility that they have been given. They provide a service that none of us would be able to function without. Sadly, there was one time when a post office might have actually gone too far. 

A post office that was located overseas was supposed to deliver a package one day. This package was addressed to a pet instead of a human. When the post office arrived to drop off the package, they insisted on getting a signature for the package before they would relinquish it. When the human stepped up to provide the signature, the post office said this would not work as the package was addressed to the pet. Therefore, the post office insisted on getting a signature from an animal.

That is when all of the complications started. The package was shipped to the animal by a family friend. The family friend thought it would be cute to address the package to the dog, given that the package was in closing a dog toy. The friend thought, what kind of harm could possibly come from this harmless gesture. Sadly, the front did not understand the type of bureaucratic nightmare the post office could create.

The pet’s owner went down to the post office to pick up the package. They are, she learned that she would have to fill out a form to receive the package. The form requested both a photo ID and the signature from the person who was supposed to receive the package. Given that the recipient of the package was a dog, this was going to be a big problem. How on earth is the owner going to be able to pick up a package address for a dog without a photo ID of the dog and a signature from the dog? It was easy to see the problems this was going to present.

A logical human would assume that the post office would take a photo ID and a signature from the dog’s owner instead. After all, this was clearly meant to be all in fun. The dog’s owner had arrived and knew about the package, so clearly, the package was meant for that person and her dog. Surely, the post office will simply laugh this off, right? Nope. Instead, the post office would continue to ask for a photo ID and signature from the dog in order to relinquish the package. At this point, it was easy to see that this was getting a little bit ridiculous.

The owner went home and collect a picture of a dog as well as a registration document showing that the dog belonged to her. Then, she returned to the post office with all of this information. She produced it as evidence of the dog’s photo ID. The post office like confused and went to the back as I figure out how to handle this. Surely, this would be enough, right? Nope. They still needed a dog to sign. In the end, the dog ended up signing with her paw print. The paw print was placed next to the owner’s signature. Finally, she got the package. In the end, this would make for an adorable story.

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Imagine Seeing A Panda Bear Walking Down The Street, Only To Find Out It Is Really A Poodle

Danielle S

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All over the country, people walk their dogs outdoors so that they can get exercise and for bathroom breaks. Imagine how bewildering it would be to see someone walking a panda bear on a leash. Would you do a double-take? Most likely! 

In Missouri, 33-year-old Rachelle Lynn McGinnis walks her poodle and gets looks from passersby every time. Ms. McGinnis is an extreme dog groomer and uses methods that other groomers don’t normally use to transform her dog to look like other animals. “You usually see people staring at her, or they will turn around after we pass to get a second glance at her appearance,” Rachelle says laughing. “Most people don’t expect to see a dog decked out with extremely fluffy fur or a coat that has different colors than the standard black, white, brown, or gray. It is fun to watch their reactions.”

Bijou is a 12-year-old poodle and loves the pampering she receives from her own as she is transformed to look like another creature. Rachelle uses a variety of methods to complete the looks she seeks. Although they are considered controversial when used on pets, Rachelle has found that she has received a lot more positive feedback via social media and in-person than she had expected.

“Bijou really enjoys the attention she receives when being groomed, and is given plenty of time to take breaks to play and rest when an extensive session is required,” McGinnis stated. “She is happy and a well-cared-for dog, and she loves the attention she receives from others, just as much as I do.”

In recent years, Bijou was groomed to look like a panda bear, polar bear, horse, peacock, and dragon. Each look requires some advance planning by Bijou’s owner to ensure she has exactly the right look when the grooming session is completed. Some projects require that Bijou’s fur is grown out for almost a year without any cutting so it meets the right length in particular portions of the body.

When Bijou’s fur is ready for transformation, Rachelle uses different shears, scissors, and clippers to remove unneeded portions. She will then sculpt the fur, using tools to trim additional portions while paying close attention to detail. In some instances, a project can take eight or nine hours to complete. Bijou enjoys being stroked, combed, brushed, and trimmed, but needs several breaks when a project takes this long.

In addition to cutting and molding fur, it is also colored to complete the look needed for some projects. For instance, when Bijou was transformed to look like a dragon, she had her fur dyed green and had attachable wings to complete the look. The fur is dyed with color that remains in place until it is cut for the next transformation project.

Bijou and her owner are getting a lot of attention because of this extreme grooming, and they each enjoy the processes involved in completing the looks others see. Bijou’s next big transformation is going to be to make her look like a sheep. This means her fur will need to grow for about a year and it will be combed, blown dry, and fluffed out using picks and combs to give her a wooly appearance. Rachelle will most likely use a brown or black dye on the face and legs to give Bijou a realistic appearance. The next time you see a panda, dragon, or sheep being walked, it may be a dog that had an extreme grooming session!

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Woman hatches beloved new pet from egg bought at a restaurant

Danielle S

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In some Asian countries, there is a culinary practice that many Westerners might consider unusual or even unappetizing. This practice involves cooking and eating fertilized duck eggs. Fertilized duck eggs are called “balut”. The growing chicks inside the eggs are typically still alive until they are cooked by being boiled. Then, the chick inside is eaten right out of the shell.

A woman in Malaysia decided to do a little experiment using balut eggs and took some home to incubate them. She was hoping to be able to hatch a chick out of the eggs, and she eventually succeeded. It took two weeks of waiting, but one egg hatched. The woman- a 39-year-old named Erica Lim- decided to name her new pet Daisy. Erica bought the eggs at a restaurant locaed in the town of Puchong. 

Lim also constructed her own incubator to keep the eggs warm before hatching them. She made the incubator using a Styrofoam box. She also put some heat lamps over the box to make it warm inside. Lim learned from a first attempt at hatching balut eggs what mistakes to avoid to have success. She knew that she was successful with her egg hatching when she started to see a very small beak breaking through an egg she was incubting. 

Although Lim was successful with one egg, she tried to hatch numerous other eggs that did not hatch successfully. Lim has said that she has really enjoyed raising her pet duck Daisy. Although she gave the hatched duckling the name Daisy, she typically uses the duck’s nickname to call it. Daisy’s nickname is Bibit. 

After Daisy hatched, she neeeded to stay under the heat lamps for a while longer so that her feather could grow in a little more. Lim said that she now has had a very strong bond with Daisy after functioning as the duckling’s mom. Now that Daisy is all grown up, the relationship between Lim and Daisy is much like any other particularly strong pet-owner relationship.

There are many different things Daisy and Lim do together to have fun. For one thing, they spend time together watching TV. Lim also sometimes dresses Daisy up in various outfits, which Daisy doesn’t seem to mind much at all. Lim offers some containers of water that Daisy can swim around in and exercise her instinct as a duck for being in the water. 

Though a lot like a traditional pet in many ways, Daisy grew up a lot faster than dogs and cats typically do. In fact, Daisy was already an adult after just a few months had passed. One great advantage that Lim enjoys having Daisy as a pet is that Daisy supplies the household with lots of eggs. Lim has gotten so many eggs from Daisy that she has had to start giving them away to people she knows. 

Lim’s pet Daisy is 2 years old now, and from the experiment with the balut eggs Lim has learned just how enjoyable it is to have a pet duck. 

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