Headlines of 2014!
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1. Firefighting Goats
San Francisco may have just taken the lead for “Greenest” city. According to Lydia O’Connor of The Huffington Post, goats are the newest employees of a San Francisco based company. What’s their pay? Food—the urban goat herd grazes on the dry brush, which thrives in the California heat and represents a major fire-hazard.
Tucked away in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco you’ll find City Grazing--a goat landscaping business. Needless to say, the business is unique, but what makes them great is that the landscaping goats they raise are a fantastic green alternative to large machinery and pesticides. The goats also restore soil fertility by leaving behind “organic fertilizer.”
City Grazing is a small business which allows them to know and name each goat. City Grazing’s Genevieve Church told the Huffington Post, “If we’re going someplace that’s ten acres, we’ll take animals that have a big appetite and aren’t as social.”
City Grazing has been helping San Francisco since 2008. After California had its driest year in 2013, the company received an abundance of phone calls about the landscaping goats from owners who wanted to protect their land, reports O’Connor.
Church says, “There’s been a definite increase in thoughts of, ‘How do we reduce fire hazard?” She also added, “Grazing animals have always been a wonderful way to keep grasslands and brushy areas reduced in that dry material.”
These goats may not know how to put out fires, but their work is crucial in preventing them. Plus, they’re eating great!
2. Snowball Proves Animals Can Dance
Have you seen Snowball? The cockatoo that made his debut dancing along to Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) by the Backstreet Boys. Snowball’s video caught the eye of over 5.6 million people.
According to Robert Krulwich of NPR, professor Aniruddh Patel turned snowball’s dance into a science experiment to see if he could get Snowball to dance to 11 more beats. The results surprised Patel; Snowball was actually able to dance along with beats other than the one that made him famous. Patel was baffled because it was widely thought that parrots weren’t able to hold a beat.
While there are many videos out there of “dancing” animals (dogs, cats, horses, etc.). They’re usually not exactly “dancing.” Krulwich reports that while the animals may stomp, bob, wiggle, nod, and jerk, they aren’t really dancing as science defines it.
Patel’s experiment took place in northern Indiana where Snowball resided at an animal rescue center—Bird Lovers Only. Irena Schulz, director of Bird Lovers Only, was given the Backstreet boys CD by Snowball’s former owner. She played the track and, sure enough, Snowball responded.
Petal took things a step further. He and Irena played the track at 11 different speeds with different beats and tempos. They studied Snowball carefully to see if he stayed on beat throughout. It turned out that Snowball was “off beat” about 75% of the time, but the conclusion was very interesting.
The findings, which appeared in Current Biology, declared Snowball to be the first ever nonhuman dancer. Researcher Noah Strycker said, “The probability of Snowball displaying even as much synchronization as he did merely by chance was minuscule. That satisfied Patal.”
Do you think your pet has the moves like Jagger? Let’s see them!
3. A Crappy Trip
When planes make emergency landings, it’s usually for good reason.
In February, for example, a United Airlines flight traveling from Des Moines to Denver was diverted to Omaha because the first officer had a heart attack in the cockpit, reported CNN.Dog on a plane Thanks to heroics from the co-pilot and an Air Force pilot who happened to be a passenger on board (Mark Gongol), the plane was landed without incident.
Sometimes, however, emergency landings happen for more unusual reasons. Consider the case of Philadelphia-bound US Airways Flight 598, which made an unexpected stop in Kansas City a few hours after its departure from Los Angeles.
“About an hour into the flight, I started smelling this terrible smell,” passenger Steven McCall told Inside Edition’s Diane McInerney.
As it turns out, a service dog named Bowser couldn’t hold it and did his business right in the middle of the aisle. Perhaps it had something to do with a two-hour tarmac delay in Los Angeles.
It got worse. After the mess was cleaned up, Bowser pooped again. At this point, the crew had run out of paper towels and cleaning supplies and the pilots decided to make an emergency landing in Kansas City.
While it might seem silly for a plane to make an emergency landing for something as simple as a dog pooping on the floor, the smell was reportedly too much for people to handle. “A couple of people started dry-heaving, a couple of people were throwing up,” McCall recounted.
As one might expect, Bowser’s guardian felt terrible.
According to McCall, she took down addresses from all the passengers so she could send them Starbucks gift cards to apologize.
In the end, what was to be a 7-hour trip to Philadelphia ultimately took twice as long. It’s hard to fault Bowser, though – 14 hours is a long time to hold it!
4. Hero Dog Calls 911
iPhones can be pretty hard to navigate sometimes, but not for Major, the Labrador/Pit Bull mix who used such a phone to call for help when his guardian had a seizure. As reported by Ryan Grenoble of the Huffington Post , Terry McGlade is a U.S. Marine who was wounded by an IED in Afghanistan and now suffers from PTSD and seizures. Major, a trained rescue dog, never leaves McGlade’s side and when he saw him having a seizure, he sprang into action.
Major actually called 911 multiple times by pawing at McGlade’s iPhone. When dispatchers got the call, they knew something was wrong, reports Lu Ann Stoia of ABC 6. During an interview, McGlade explained, “He was actually able to get my phone out of my pocket.” He recalls that Major stepped on the screen long enough for the phone to call 911, as it was automatically set up to do.
Major waited at the front of the house on the curb for medics and police, and then brought them to his owner. “I probably would have been in severe trouble if he wouldn’t have called,” says McGlade.
Some people say dogs are man’s best friend, while some cat owners may argue, we can all agree that the world is a better place with animals like Major.
5. Dog Reunites with Family
As reported by chron.com, a 3-year-old Chihuahua/Dachshund mix has been reunited with his family after somehow managing to travel from his home in Killeen, Texas to a shelter in southwest Ohio. Corbin the dog escaped the Siaz family’s yard, only 3 days before showing up at the Animal Friends Humane Society in Hamilton, Ohio. Corbin was identified by a microchip, but how he traveled so many miles in such a short amount of time remains a mystery.
According to Carol Christian of chron.com, “surveillance photos show that an unidentified woman left Corbin outside the Hamilton, Ohio shelter.” Deputy Kurt Merbs, with the Butler County Sherrif’s Office, said that the women tied the dog to a bench around midnight. Unfortunately, the dog was then forced to endure a thunderstorm while he waited for the shelter to open.
The Siaz family; made up of Mike Siaz, Sharlette Siaz, and their three children; was unsure of how to get their dog home; they reached out using social media channels. In the end it was a couple named Mary Davis and Shawn Woolever who answered the call for help. They were in Texas attending a funeral and lived only 10 blocks from the Siaz family home.
Corbin was safely returned to his family Wednesday.
This story reminds us of the importance of microchipping your pet. Without the chip, the Saizes may well have been one member short. To learn more about microchipping click here.
6. Turtle Crashes Wedding
Turtle on beach Taryn Hillin, of the Huffington Post, reports that a sea turtle recently crashed a wedding in St. Croix. The turtle gave new definition to the term “photobombing,” when she crawled up onto the shore, laid eggs, buried them and returned to the sea. Photos were posted by Redditor In3, who recounted the story: “Immediately after the ceremony during cocktail hour everyone is mingling and sipping on their beverage of choice when I overhear one of my friends say with a good bit of excitement in his voice ‘look at that turtle!’ I break conversation and turn around to see this monster coming out of the surf.”
Witnesses said the turtle was a leatherback, which, according to National Geographic, “are the largest turtles on Earth, growing up to seven feet long and exceeding 2000 pounds.” Leatherbacks also migrate further than any other turtle — as much as 3,700 miles one way — which perhaps explains this turtle’s surprise appearance.
While many brides would be upset by an uninvited guest at their wedding, this once in a lifetime sighting was probably worth the extra table setting.