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A Facebook Group Makes Touching Effort For Blind Dog Lover

Sherry Rucherman

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As the largest social media platform in the world, everybody knows about Facebook. If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve probably heard the controversy surrounding the social media giant. Today, we’re going to bring something a little lighter and more positive to your attention. The Facebook group The Dogspotting Society recently went viral for coming together to support one of their blind members, Stephen William Dale Shkuratoff. Shkuratoff posted, “I love being a member of this group. I am blind and was hoping to ask for more dog descriptions.” Shkuratoff went on to apologize for being an inconvenience, not knowing the response that was to come!

If you love dogs, joining a group like The Dogspotting Society would be a wonderful way to share that passion. Every day the members of the group share pictures of their dogs, stories, and information about their lives. While Shkuratoff was a dog-lover and enjoyed reading the captions that came with some of the pictures, they were still somewhat of a rarity. After Shkuratoff made his post, he expected maybe a few responses. Within 24 hours, the post had more than 2,000 replies. Blown away by the reply, Shkuratoff tried to keep up with all of the comments. Through his posts, he revealed that, while colors were nice, descriptions of personality traits would be better. He also said that descriptions like ‘soft’ were perfect because they were vivid to him whereas a color was more abstract.

Self-described as a “cool place to hang out where you can post your own dogs”, The Dogspotting Society quickly lived up to their description. As the posts began flooding in, Shkuratoff was able to use his platform to advocate support for the blind and impaired. As a consequence of his simple question, thousands of touching stories were shared between dog lovers. In a world full of negativity, on a network currently mired in political controversy, isn’t that a pleasant little surprise? At the time of this writing, the Dogspotting Society has more than 767,000 total members. That’s a lot of positivity being shared in the world!

Outside of the touching tribute that the Dogspotting Society paid to Shkuratoff, the story also highlighted one key question: how do visually impaired people use Facebook? According to Carl Augusto of the American Foundation for the Blind, “The answer is quite simple.” Augusto went on to reveal that visually impaired users could use screen magnification programs to maximize text. Augusto also revealed that there were special “screen reading programs” that could be used in conjunction with Facebook. Facebook is one of the few social media giants to have focused on maximizing user accessibility, and they recently introduced an A.I. component to describe photos for users like Shkuratoff. If this is the future, that’s not so bad.

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Animals

Donut Doing Dog Drives Neighbors Nuts

Lea Lomas

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Almost anything can be haunted: houses, ancient burial grounds, gravesites. There are even people who put some very unusual items for sale on eBay, claiming they they were haunted. Some of those items included a haunted ring that contains the spirit of a genie, a haunted painting, haunted shoes that tap dance throughout the night, a haunted Ziploc bag that restores or heals almost anything, and even a haunted bra that grants its wearer admiration and gifts.

In one Florida neighborhood, the residents were wondering if they were experiencing a haunted car. Even though it seemed very unlikely, the car was moving around by itself without a driver, and witnesses were searching for some sort of explanation.

Hours of Donuts — Backwards

Not only was the car moving, it was moving in reverse, and going in circles. It was clear to see, because it was broad daylight, that there was no one in the driver’s seat. How was the vehicle driving continuously for so long without a driver?

Chaos and Damage 

The car not only caused confusion,  but a clear and present danger to anyone in the area. Whatever was in charge of the vehicle was not being careful,  and at least one mailbox was knocked over and destroyed.  This was 8 a.m. in a quiet neighborhood in a cul-de-sac that normally doesn’t see much traffic. St. Lucie, Florida isn’t famous for its wild car chases or paranormal activity. 

Emergency Services to the Rescue 

Finally, after over an hour of this wild driving,  emergency responders arrived to help. Police officers and firefighters could only stop and stare at first — theyprobably didn’t believe what they were seeing. A brave police officer finally approached the vehicle and punched in a pass code,  unlocking the car door. 

They Believed It When They Saw It

To the surprise of everyone watching,  as soon as the door opened, a dog made its break for freedom.  Terrified and confused, the poor black dog ran off.

Now it was possible to learn the real story.  The owner of the vehicle had started it and then his dog jumped in, accidentally hit the gear shifter, and somehow locked out his owner. 

Video Proof

If a watchful neighbor hadn’t noticed what was happening, the rest of the world might not believe this crazy story. Luckily, Anne Sobol was looking out her window and noticed the car backing up. When the car continued to drive backwards without a driver, Anne started videotaping the incident.Even without the video, the owner of the car admitted responsibility for the incident. He told the emergency responders how his dog Max came to be driving his car and agreed to pay for the mailbox.

Poor Max

Nobody got hurt this time, but this is an important lesson to be careful after turning on a vehicle. Small children and pets can lock themselves in, causing calls to locksmiths just to get them out quickly.

Hopefully, Max the Donut Driving Dog will be more cautious around vehicles from now on, with no fear.

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Dogs & Veterans Get a New Leash on Life

Leslie Tander

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Some people might say that Tiger is the luckiest dog on the planet–and he might agree, if he could speak for himself.

Today, Tiger is a happy and sociable dog with plenty of energy, but it has not always been this way. In fact, Tiger was once just a pup in a Georgia animal shelter. One human, Angela Simpson, changed everything for the dog when she saw his social skills and energy level and knew he could become the perfect service dog.

Simpson served in the Iraq War as a member of the United States Army. When the soldier returned home, she experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. She suffered from anxiety attacks, especially in public when she was surrounded by many people. She also had three children to raise, and she was finding that her mental health was not where she wanted it to be. Life was getting much more difficult.

That changed when she met Tiger thanks to the One Warrior Won program, a non-profit that helps service members seek support for PTSD.

Tiger is now a well-trained pup who can sense stress and panic. When Tiger senses that Simpson is panicking, he leads her away from people or tries to calm her down using other methods. Tiger brings a number of winning qualities to the table, including companionship and a lot of personality. Simpson says Tiger has opened up her world to a variety of opportunities, and her entire family benefits.

Organizations like One Warrior Won help shed light on the fact that between 18 and 22 veterans die by suicide every day. It is clear at this point that suicide and PTSD in military members have become a crisis. Of course, people are not the only ones in need. Thousands of dogs are euthanized each day, and many of them are quite capable of being trained for service. To date, One Warrio Won has trained more than a dozen service dogs and placed them with vets all around the United States.

For people living with PTSD, service dogs are a big help. These dogs, just like Tiger, can be trained to determine their charge’s heart rate and breathing to determine if he or she is having a panic attack. Many veterans return from their service to feel isolated and withdrawn. Dogs don’t judge or misunderstand. They facilitate reconnection and provide companionship. They also serve a medical purpose.

Other organizations also train dogs for placement with military veterans. They include groups like Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs. These organizations developed because Veterans Affairs provides service dogs for veterans with physical disabilities, but not necessarily those with mental health disorders. For veterans who are left to find trained dogs on their own, these non-profit organizations are especially helpful, as they provide trained dogs for free.

Thanks to organizations like these, the lives of people like Simpson and dogs like Tiger are much improved. Veterans and pups in need are both given another chance at life.

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Dad Lion Crouches Down To Meet His Baby Son For The Very First Time

Leslie Tander

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It was a major win for the lions when Tobias met his cub, Tatu, for the first time in September 2019. The Safari lion embraced the moment of meeting his son for the first time as zookeepers let the cameras roll to capture the moment. 

It is no secret that the past 25 years have been hard on the lions in Africa. Dozens of species have disappeared as old age and hunting games have claimed the lives of lions throughout the continent. The dwindling existence of Safari lions in Africa is why Tatu’s birth was so significant. 

Tatu was born on July 25, 2019, to the Predator Ridge habitat of the Denver Zoo. The cub’s mother, Apryiella, fought long and hard to deliver her son. The lioness gave birth after nine hours of labor that included groans and exhaustion. Zookeepers remained present with Apryiella to ensure that both she and baby Tatu survived the labor and delivery process. In the end, the lioness gave birth to a beautiful cub who had yet to meet his father. 

Some do not see the point in having cubs meet both parents. The little ones are, after all, outside their element from birth when the zoo is their home. There is, however, something special about a male lion connecting with his father during the first few months of existence. Such is the reason why zookeepers worked to orchestrate a meetup for little Tatu and his father. 

Tobias was unsuspecting on that glorious day in September 2019. The male lion probably thought he was merely being moved from one station to the next. Everything came to a head, however,  when Tobias beheld his son for the first time. One look at Tatu, and the male lion knew that he was staring at his offspring. 

It is quite interesting to see the reaction of animals when beholding their children for the first time. No matter how long they have been separated, the parents know what belongs to them. 

Tatu presents hope in more ways than one. The cub is a male of his kind, which means that his offspring can repopulate the Earth with lions. There is also the satisfaction of one more lion being in the universe, which seems to be a joy that is far and few in between because of scarcity. 

A significant part of the Lion Species Survival Plan (SSP) depended on the safe labor and delivery of Tatu. Now, with the cub’s birth behind them, advocates for endangered species can move on to combat the decline of Safari lions in different ways. 

It is not every day that a lion such as Tatu enters the world. Thankfully, Denver zookeepers caught the moment that the cub met his father so that animal lovers can enjoy the union for years to come. The moment in time is certainly something that neither Tatu nor Tobias will forget. 

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