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Seal and Diver Share Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience During Ocean Dive!

Sherry Rucherman

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When it comes to the ocean, there are two types of people. You either love the depths of the ocean and all the wondrous beauty that lives in the water, or you are terrified of it. No matter which category you find yourself in, you’ll want to keep on reading! Today, we are going to introduce you to diver Gary Grayson and the life-changing encounter that he had with an adorable seal. If you were interested in the ocean before, after this story you are going to be obsessed!

Wondrous Story of the Ocean

Today, we are going to be donning a digital wetsuit in order to explore the deep blue sea. We are going to be joining a group of divers, led by Gary Grayson, as they navigated the waters off of the Isles of Scilly, located in southwest England just off the coast of Cornwall. 

Exploring the Isles of Scilly

The Isles of Scilly are located just off of the tip of Cornwall in England. An archipelago with multiple islands, the Isles of Scilly is comprised of five total islands and a handful of small islets. The waters surrounding the Isles of Scilly are known for being a haven of natural ocean wonder. As you’ll soon find out, a diving expedition off of the Isles of Scilly can be quite a lifechanging experience!

Seeing the Ocean Up Close

Gary Grayson came to the Isles of Scilly by way of Worsley, England. Grayson and his pals had gone on a vacation in order to explore the region. They wanted to take time during their trip in order to go scuba diving. While Gary and his friends were expecting to see wildlife, they didn’t know what to expect during their adventure. 

What Could They Find Down There

Even though Gary was excited to take in the natural wonders lurking below the ocean’s surface, he was also interested in seeing if they could locate a shipwreck. According to research performed by UNESCO, there are an estimated 3 million total shipwrecks spread throughout the ocean. A few famous shipwrecks include the Titanic, the fleet of Kublai Khan, and the Spanish galleons that had sailed between Spain and America.

Different Kind of Adventure

While many divers set their sights on hidden treasure, others like to focus on interacting with the local wildlife. For that reason, many people end up going to the Isle of Scilly in order to dive with the seals. Seal diving is incredibly popular in the region, though you had better go diving with a professional in order to ensure your safety. Remember, you are diving into potentially dangerous waters! Your safety isn’t going to be guaranteed.

Making Friends Beneath the Surface

Even though Gary and his friends had hoped to catch sight of some sunken treasure, they were ecstatic to be greeted by something quite different! After leaving their boat, Gary and his team came upon a couple of wild seals. Right away, Gary could tell that something was different about their interaction. We’ll get more into that soon.

Seals Aren’t Always Nice

Even though seals are adorable, we have to remind everyone that they are wild animals. Wild animals don’t behave by human standards. They don’t follow rules and their space should be respected. If a wild seal swims up to you, you had better think twice before engaging. Every seasoned diver will tell you to leave wild animals well-enough alone.

Seals ARE Wild Animals After All

While Gary knew that he shouldn’t engage with the seals, they were behaving in an exceptionally friendly manner. In fact, as the two seals drew closer to Gary and his friends, they began to notice something quite odd. The seals seemed like they wanted the attention of the divers! What could this mean?

Staying Calm During the Encounter

As the two seals approached Gary, the divers did their best in order to stay calm. Any outward expression of nervousness could end up signaling a threat to the seals. The last thing that Gary wanted to do was startle a wild animal while he was in their natural habitat. Still, Gary made sure to get his camera rolling and for that reason, we have these stunning photographs!

Navigating Potential Danger

The ocean is the largest ecosystem on the planet. While humans have adapted to being in the water thanks to our technology, we are not natural members of that ecosystem. As a result, any time that we place ourselves in the ocean, we are putting ourselves in harm’s way. Even though Gary Grayson was a seasoned wildlife videographer, he was still unprepared for the event playing out before him.

Gary Kept the Camera Rolling

Even though Gary didn’t know WHAT to do, he knew he had to capture it all on camera. Gary had shot video of wild animals all around the world. Now, he was getting his chance to capture some stunning footage in a situation that few other divers would ever get to experience.

They Were Seal Pups

Remember how we thought the seals looked a little odd? Well, as the animals swam closer to Gary and his friends, they came to a sudden realization. The seals weren’t just small, they were young! Gary and his friends had stumbled across a pair of young seals who were as curious as they were nervous. 

The Seals Are Incredibly Friendly

Even though young seals are supposed to be incredibly skittish, these animals didn’t shy away from Gary. Instead, they slowly got closer and closer. Pretty soon, Gary was able to see their eyes and feel their snouts as they brushed against him. They weren’t afraid at all even though he had been told that seal cubs were extraordinarily skittish.

A New Type of Situation

Before long, the seals were swimming between the divers in order to greet them all. The seal cubs were behaving like young puppies that were desperate for some extra attention. Gary knew that the seals were being playful, but he also realized that he couldn’t let his guard down. One wrong move could send the whole experience shattering to the ocean floor.

Behaving Like Young Puppies

The seals continued to circle Gary and his friend as they became more and more relaxed. The seals grew increasingly brave and before they knew it, they were face to face with the creatures. Gary noted during this experience that the seals totally were acting like ‘water dogs’, right down to their puppy eyes and pokey whiskers.

Is This Really Happening?

As Gary and his friend grew more comfortable with the water dogs, they began to pay attention to little details that they hadn’t noticed before. While the seals had been taking turns swimming beside them, they had also been sending a signal. Gary couldn’t believe what was going on in front of him.

Did We Just Become Best Friends

Wild seals are notoriously flakey when it comes to remaining in the presence of humans. As an animal always on the run from massive predators, we guess it is understandable that the seals wouldn’t want to be too friendly. For that reason, Gary’s experience was made all the more fascinating. The seals would reach out with their flipper in order to try to hold or touch Gary. They weren’t swimming away. They were playing together!

Noticing A Stunning Pattern

As their time together lengthened, Gary began noticing a pattern. Every time that he would pull away from the seal, the creature would reach out with his flippers in order to keep him close. Fearing an inadvertent scare, Gary decided to let the seal lead the dance during their wordless conversation. A few moments later, the seal was using Gary’s hand to pet himself!

Humans and Nature Interacting

Whenever you see animals and humans interacting in the wild, you have to be careful. It only takes one wrong move for a pleasant encounter to turn into a dangerous one. With that being said, it was impossible for Gary to ignore how friendly the seals were being. They were rapidly gaining the trust of the animals in a way that seemed almost unbelievable!

Understanding the Seal’s ‘Aggression’ 

As Gary let the seal lead the dance, he noticed that it would gently bite his palm. Now, seals can be incredibly dangerous when they sink their teeth into something, but that wasn’t the case here. Instead, the seal was gently holding Gary’s hand as if it wanted to give him comfort or even ask him for something. The second seal lingered back, watching on with round eyes.

Graceful in the Water

When a seal is underwater, it can appear graceful even with its odd shape. Outside of the water, seals look intimidating and vaguely funny. Their little waddle on land can hide the fact that seals typically have no problem becoming aggression. If you see a seal sunbathing on a beach, let the animal be!

A Misunderstood Creature

When seals are still in their pup stage, they tend to stick close by their mother. In fact, newborn seal pups will stay for around four months with their mother before daring to swim off for their own adventures. That meant that Gary was either in the presence of curious seals on their first adventure or an angry mother was lurking nearby.

Why Was the Seal So Outgoing

Thankfully for Gary, the seals weren’t in the presence of their mother, as far as he could tell. Instead, the seals seemed genuinely curious. It was likely that they were on one of their first trips around the water without their mother by their side. Talk about getting lucky, right?

Behaving Like the Family Dog

Fortunately for Gary, the two seals were at an age where they would be learning to explore on their own. Gary and the seals began to enjoy closer interactions, culminating in Gary petting the seal as if it were his own dog. It was when Gary went to rub the seal again that something amazing happened.

The Encounter Winds to an End

In nature, most encounters between a human and a wild animal will be brief. For Gary and the seals, the encounter seemed to stretch on and on. Shockingly, the seals didn’t run for the hills soon after initiating their meeting. Still, Gary started to steel himself for the departure of the beautiful creatures.

Only The Seal Isn’t Finished

Only instead of winding down, the seal did something that was impossible to believe. As Gary continued to rub the seal on its head and back, the seal crept closer and closer to the ocean floor. The seal continued to guide Gary’s hand toward the ground. Gary and his diving companion couldn’t understand what was going on. Was the seal just being a little goofy? 

A Stunning Revelation

Once the seal reached the ocean floor it abruptly rolled over onto its back. Instead of letting Gary pull his hand away, the seal instead pushed his hand onto his belly. As it turned out, the seal wanted some belly rubs. If you were to dream up this exact situation, we would have told you that it was impossible!

Reveling in the Pats

As the action clicked inside of Gary’s head, he began to rub the seal’s round little belly. Just like a dog or cat, seals like having their belly rubbed or scratched from time to time. Can you imagine jumping into the ocean with your friends only to spend your time scratching the belly of a massive seal? That’s definitely a special experience.

A Few Chin Scratches For Good Measure

If you get the chance to watch the video from Gary’s excursion, you’ll notice how ‘into’ the experience the seal got. In fact, after Gary began to scratch at the seal’s stomach, its eyes began to relax just like you would expect from your dog. It really was true! Seals are the dogs of the ocean.

Gentle Nibbles of Appreciation

After a moment, Gary realized that the seal wanted something else from him. Gary stopped rubbing the seal’s belly and as he did so, the seal pushed its chin into his hand. That’s right, the seal wanted chin scratches as well! What’s more, the seal was so relaxed that it appeared to be smiling.

Gary Waves Goodbye

While Gary was busy petting one of the seals, the second seal had begun to circle around Gary’s feet. The second seal was far more skittish than the first animal, though it warmed up as their interaction lengthened. By the end of the excursion, the second seal was all bout curled up at Gary’s feet.

Gary’s Video Goes Viral!

There are countless shared experiences between man and animal every single day. The vast majority of these experiences are not captured on camera, especially high-definition footage. Thankfully, Gary uploaded the video of his meeting onto the internet and the clip quickly went viral. Grayson was featured on YouTube before getting interviewed on the Manchester Evening News. Gary would reveal during the interview that other seals had passed them by but that these two cubs were incredibly curious.

Chance of a Lifetime

Gary went on to reveal that he had been trained to sit in the kelp in order to be more welcoming to potential seal cubs. Gary said in his interview, “The more still we were, the more inquisitive this seal was because we were in their world.” Gary and his friend also mentioned that it was vital that they stayed calm during the meeting.

Remembering the Encounter

While Gary had plenty of experience as a diver, he had never planned on encountering an animal like that. Gary went on to say, “I’m an experienced diver but I have never known anything like that.” Gary went on to describe how he had been everywhere from Mexico to Cuba, and he had swum with giant mantras and sharks, yet no experience had stuck with him like this one.

Would You Like To Meet a Seal

While it is impossible to guarantee that your experience will be similar to Grayson’s, diving with the seals is entirely possible. The Isles of Scilly offer extensive chaperoned diving experiences that visitors can pursue. Of course, there are plenty of other places to go diving with the seals. Research diving teams local to the ocean near you!

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Animals

Who Rescued Who?

Mackenzie Freeman

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Susan Luong first discovered the power of dogs helping a patient heal, as a young child, when she was treated, in the hospital, for juvenile polymyositis. After volunteering her time at various shelters, Susan came to understand the challenges that exist with dogs who are left behind due to medical or behavioral issues. Susan’s time at the shelter taught her about patience, care, and training behavioral issues out of dogs to make them more adoptable. Her time at the shelters also fueled her desire to rescue dogs with medical, or behavioral issues–especially corgis.

Susan and her husband eventually adopted a corgi of their very own. The seller failed to tell them the corgi they adopted was not as advertised. Told the dog they were adopting was a 2-year-old corgi with no health issues, they later discovered the dog they adopted was almost a senior citizen! In addition, the dog they adopted, Oliver, was far from healthy, with a cost of nearly $2,000 for just his medical issues alone! In addition to his medical concerns, Oliver had aggression issues with Susan and her husband, other dogs, and strangers, too! Friends and family tried talking Susan and her husband into giving Oliver up, but instead, they upped their training.

Eva came to them almost two years later with similar behavior issues. Like Oliver, Susan and her husband trained Eva until they eliminated all of her aggressive behaviors. Amazingly, they trained both dogs so well, they each obtained an American Kennel Good Citizenship Award! Having successfully rehabilitated both Oliver and Eva, Susan founded Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue (QBSDR), a non-profit focused on rehabilitating corgis. Each dog that comes to the shelter is tested against her own dogs to determine its temperament. The results of that test become the foundation for each corgi’s personalized training to make the dogs more adoptable.

Adoption events, monthly hikes, community events, and even a special beach day just for corgis are sponsored by Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue. Corgi Beach Day is one of two annual events designed to educate prospective adoptees about corgis and the potential health or behavioral ailments that may occur down the road. Approximately 800 corgis hit the beach running at each of their two Corgi Beach Days — one for Northern California, and one for Southern California. Anyone wanting to adopt one of the corgis must go through a very-detailed five-part process: complete an application with as much detail as possible; answer any additional questions that QBSDR has about the application; submit to a home inspection designed to ensure no safety issues exist; come to the QBSDR facility with current pets and all household family members; and, once approved, receive whichever adoptable corgi that QBSDR feels will best suit the corgi’s needs, and the people’s personalities and lifestyles. This level of detail is very important to ensure the best possible fit between the corgi and its forever parents.

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California Sets the Pace on Store-Bought Puppies from Mills

Mackenzie Freeman

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Imagine you had your heart set on an adorable new puppy you spotted at your local pet store. They give you those charming eyes and irresistible body movements that win you over, except no matter how set you are on ‘buying’ a new dog, you need its history and background. Every pet store has to provide the origins of the pup, their breed mix, and any additional facts and information about the dog.

Full disclosure is now becoming mandatory for pet shop owners when selling any puppies that have not been born or bred in puppy mills. California is setting the pace for this practice, and hopefully more states will follow the mandatory law. When Governor Brown was still in office in 2017 he signed a bill to prevent the practice of acquiring new pups from inhumane situations be sold at their stores. The law went into effect in October of this year, 2019.

What are the details?

The large-scale operations where most of the pet store puppies arrive from are less than humane. For instance, conditions at most puppy mills are so unsanitary that dogs sit in cramped cages, their treatment is borderline abusive, and its sad. Most breeders are concerned about one thing: profit. They push out dog after dog in an effort to increase their bottom line, only to have the original mother of the pups overwhelmed and possibly contracting illnesses. 

Every breeder is different. Oftentimes, their intentions to sell high quality dogs to people are sound and true, yet once they decide to attract the pet store owners with the “reject” puppies, the pet shop receives the undesirables and tries to sell them at top dollar. Instead of placing the extra or unwanted pups in a shelter, the breeders go straight to the pet stores.

Well, all of that is changing in California. No longer will one of the estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States be able to sell to pet shop owners. The ban is now in effect. Every dog, cat, rabbit, or other exotic animal sold in pet stores must be obtained from shelters or rescue organizations.

It’s a giant step forward for animal activist groups, who have been pushing for this measure for several years. The Humane Society, PETA, and the national ASPCA support the bill and its verbiage. Banning breeders is not without controversy however, as the Pet Industry Advisory Council (who opposes the bill) feels it may put several breeders out of business altogether. Their worry is how the new legislation may put well-intended breeders in an evil light, also claiming the bill removes consumer protections.

Where do we go from here?

Since California tends to set the tone for many environmental causes and issues people mostly care about, the new law has pros and cons for all concerned. If there are responsible and humane private breeders willing to comply, they’re also able to continue selling puppies to private citizens desirous of a healthy breed and who doesn’t believe the price tag is over their budget.

A direct sale of puppies to pet stores isn’t in the offing anymore, and those breeders who have amassed a multi-dimensional business have to go elsewhere to direct their sales. California is the first state to enact this law, however more states are beginning to follow suit. Eliminating puppy mills within its borders is a celebration for shelters and rescue organizations as well. 

If the trend continues, no longer will puppies have to sit for days on end in awful conditions. They are saved!

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Animals

Popular Mini Horse Cheers Up Children at Local Children’s Hospital in Michigan

Leslie Tander

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Nobody enjoys being in the inpatient unit of a hospital and for children, this experience can be downright scary. Fortunately, there are lots of volunteers who donate their time to help children make this experience just a little bit easier. Some volunteers dress up in costumes to help children who are having a rough time. Others might show up bearing gifts that can help children get through their stay. Other volunteers play musical instruments, trying to cheer up the kids. Sometimes, help comes in the form of a popular animal. Kids love animals and Fred the Mini Horse is one of the most popular guests at the local Michigan Children’s Hospital.

Horseback riding is a great activity both recreationally and competitively; however, even being around a horse can place a smile on someone’s face. This is what happened from Fred the Mini Horse showed up at the local Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fred the Mini Horse was instantly the star of the show when he arrived. This tiny horse belongs to an organization called Little Horses Big Smiles. This is a nonprofit organization that operates out of Fremont, MI. This organization is dedicated to training and providing mini horses for a variety of purposes. In this case, Fred the Mini Horse is training to be a dedicated service animal who can help people all over the pace. Fred the Mini Horse did exactly that when he made his way around the floors of the local children’s hospital. The nonprofit organization has already spent a lot of time with the children’s hospital, knowing that there are lots of patients there who could use a little bit of extra love and attention. It turns out the animals from this organization, such as Fred the Mini Horse, make appearances about once per month. Those who work at the nonprofit also love their work. They say there is nothing better than putting a smile on the faces of children who need it most. Fred the Mini Horse is happy to provide this opportunity.

Fred the adorable Mini Horse makes his way around the floors in a great costume. He wears shoes over his hooves in an effort to protect the floors from harm. In addition, Fred the Mini Horse also wears a vest that clearly marks him as a therapy animal. Fred the Mini Horse is about 14 months old, which is about the same age as many of the children he sees at the hospital. Parents and children from all over the hospital echoed these sentiments, knowing that Fred provides an opportunity for kids to put their illnesses on the backburner for just a few minutes as they interact with the loving animals. Even the parents enjoyed meeting Fred the Mini Horse. The parents go through a difficult time in the hospital as well. The opportunity to leave the room and be interactive is a welcome break for many families.

In addition to the children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Fred the Mini Horse also makes visits to other local children’s hospitals in the surrounding area. There are lots of children who are going through a hard time and could use a lift. This is the goal of Fred and the other animals at this local nonprofit. In the future, other animals might also visit the hospital as well. This isn’t just a welcome break for the children. The hospital staff often interact with the animals as well, looking for a quick break from their demanding jobs.

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