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A Giant Rodent Raising Canine Puppies?

Lea Lomas

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If you have ever seen a Capybara, it looks like an oversized Guinea Pig with slightly longer legs. About the size of a small dog, like an adult pug, the Capybara is gentle creature that tends to be very social with those it is comfortable with, including other animals and humans. As it turned out, a domesticated Capybara can also make a good foster mother for puppies as well.

One winter day in 2016, just before Christmas, Janice found herself suddenly dealing with a litter of puppies that had lost their natural canine mother. Janice was used to animals and different pet needs, running a bit of a farm herself, but a litter of puppies without a dog mother was another story. She was very concerned that the puppies would starve or not develop properly without a caring canine mother to lead them in their critical first weeks alive. Fortunately, her Capybara fondly named Cheesecake, had other plans.

Janice ran an animal sanctuary and frequently found herself dealing with all sorts of animals in different conditions they arrive. Some are old and need a home to avoid being euthanized, some had their masters abandon them, and some can’t be care for due to a variety of reasons. An animal sanctuary gives these animals a chance to live out their normal lives with care instead of being put down as a burden.

In the case of Cheesecake, she was a friendly Capybara who roamed the animal sanctuary and connected with every animal there every day, frequently nuzzling and showing affection when possible. The puppies were suddenly the new show in the sanctuary, and they needed some kind of entity to act a mother figure quick. Without any kind of guidance or training or motivation, Cheesecake seemed to understand the need, and she immediately started guiding the puppies to her pen as a home as well as keeping an eye on them and herding them around as needed. The puppies for their part just assumed Cheesecake was just another dog, granted a bit odd-looking, and all would be good again. The Capybara and the puppies essentially became bonded and could not be separated.

Capybaras, as noted earlier, tend to be extremely social if they are not scared off or threatened. In the case of Cheesecake, she took over the lead role for the young dogs and shared every moment with them. Protecting, nuzzling, eating and sleeping with them, Cheesecake helped the puppies relax and turn into healthy young dogs without issue. And it was pretty clear that the Capybara had adopted the puppies as her own. For Janice it was a welcome bit of relief in what would have otherwise been a very hectic and busy attempt to protect the puppies and help them survive.

Today the puppies have moved on, being set in new homes with family. And Cheesecake still manages the sanctuary like a mother hen, following Janice and socializing with every animal present to keep tabs on things and take care of those animals needing a bit more than just a bowl of food and water.

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Animals

TikTok’s Talking Dog

Lea Lomas

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People have wanted to communicate with their pets ever since humans started keeping pets in the first place. We always like to image the secret lives that they have when we’re not around and they’re socializing with other dogs and cats. Cats and dogs are certainly capable of communicating with their owners through body language. You can learn about feline and canine body language yourself, which could help you understand so much more about them.

Still, it’s hard to let go of the fantasy of genuinely talking to your cat or dog using verbal language. Characters like Dr. Dolittle wouldn’t be as popular otherwise. We also probably wouldn’t have TikTok celebrities like Bunny, a Sheepadoodle who seems to have used technology to gain the power of speech. 

Dogs can be trained to recognize up to 165 words on average, although the smartest dogs may recognize as many as 250 words. Sheepadoodles are definitely smart dogs. Poodles are usually ranked second after Border Collies on all of the lists of the smartest dogs. Old English Sheepdogs are in the top thirty on that list, which is a respectable ranking. Sheepadoodles are mixed breeds with Old English Sheepdog and poodle parents, making them notably intelligent dogs. Bunny demonstrates that this is the case each time she looks like she’s having an actual conversation with members of her family. 

There’s a series of soundboard devices on the floor of their house. Each one of the devices has a recorded word that it plays when it’s pressed. Bunny has learned how to press different soundboards in order to seemingly express herself. She seems to know if she presses the button that says ‘park,’ she might get taken for a walk. If she presses the boards that say ‘love you’ and ‘mom,’ she’ll get a hug out of it. 

It’s almost as eerie as it is adorable to watch. You might really feel like you’re watching a dog who has learned to talk. Bunny may not understand the details of human language, but she does associate certain sounds with certain soundboards. She knows that if she activates one of these soundboards, she’ll get a concern of hers addressed.

Even more remarkably, the soundboard is giving her the chance to report any medical symptoms that she has. Bunny was able to tell her owners that she was in pain by pressing a soundboard that said ‘ouch.’ They brought her to the veterinarian’s office immediately, and sure enough, she did have a pronounced nasal infection. 

Dogs have always been able to tell us things in their own way. We know that when our dogs keep trying to lead us to the door or grab their leashes for us, they want to go for a walk. When they whimper, we know that they’re upset. Thanks to modern technology, Bunny is capable of using those skills in a way that’s more accessible to humans. 

Being able to train dogs to use soundboards like this could change everything we know about pet ownership and care. Some dogs are easier to train than others. Many dogs aren’t able to learn many commands at all, and they certainly couldn’t direct them back at us. However, there have to be plenty of dogs like Bunny, who could be given something like a voice. 

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Animals

The Rescue of a 46-years-old Elephant after Years of Life in Captivity

Mackenzie Freeman

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Karma, a 46-year-old blind elephant, had been a captive all her life as a victim of human abuse and neglect. She had been used by her owners as a tool for begging for many years. Karma was also forced to carry heavy loads through the busy and chaotic streets of India and give rides to tourists. Since she was absolutely blind, any interaction in the streets was extremely fearful and hard for her. As time passed, Karma lost her hope of experiencing freedom. 

However, miracles do happen. In December 2019, Karma was rescued by volunteers of the group Wildlife SOS.  The mission of this non-profit organization is to rescue wild captive animals, help them to rehabilitate, and contribute to preserving India’s natural heritage. They have helped thousands of animals so far, including elephants. 

In the touching video Wildlife SOS shared, Karma is getting out the trailer helped by two volunteers and taking the first steps towards her long awaited freedom. 

Karma received a totally new life at an animal sanctuary and rehabilitation center Elephant Conservation and Care Center located in Northern India. She loves her new home and environment and feels confident by strolling around the sanctuary’s green grassy plains and peaceful fields. Because of her blindness, Karma is cautious and takes every step slowly by using her trunk to guide her. This is the only tool she has for smelling and feeling the ground in front of her.  For now, caregivers are trying not to leave Karma alone and stay close enough while she is becoming familiar with the new environment and discovering the sanctuary. 

She has to stay under quarantine for a while, until it will be safe for her to see other animals. However, the staff of the sanctuary hopes that once the quarantine is over Karma will be able to meet other elephants and become a part of her new elephant family. 

Caregivers say that she has a long way to recover.  However, already after a month at the sanctuary, she is feeling much better, getting stronger and becoming more confident. The organization has also started a fundraising company and has already raised money to cover Karma’s medical expenses.

Karma definitely benefits from freedom and life in a safe, natural environment. She finally looks like a happy elephant enjoying every second of her existence. 

According to statistics, there are over 4,000 elephants living in captivity in India today. The average life expectancy of elephants is 60-70 years. However, captive elephants usually die before 40 due to such chronic disorders as tuberculosis, foot abscesses, and arthritis. Moreover,  most of the keepers do not understand the needs of these giant animals and fail to provide them with proper living conditions. 

Wildlife SOS was established in 1995 as a group of people inspired to preserve India’s natural heritage and protect the wildlife of the country. They have launched dozens of initiatives with the purpose to protect India’s endangered animals and prevent their extinction. Karma became the seventh rescued elephant at the sanctuary in 2020. 

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Animals

Local Hero UPS Driver Saves Dog Trapped In Ice

Mackenzie Freeman

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What’s your normal work day like? For Ryan Arens, a UPS driver in Bozeman, Montana, a normal day would be delivering packages to people. He’s been working for UPS for 14 years, so his day is pretty routine and he likes to stick to a schedule. 

In January of 2019, he broke routine when he heard something strange during his route. He thought he heard a dog in distress. He could hear it yelping and crying, but it was getting dark so he couldn’t see it. There was a pond near the neighborhood he was in. He went around to the other side of it to get a closer look. That’s when he saw the dog. It was a wire-haired pointing griffon and it was in the middle of the pond. It had fallen through the ice into the cold waters and was trying to stay near the surface. He didn’t know how long the dog had been in the water, but he knew he had to do something.

There was another good Samaritan on the water in a rowboat that was trying to save the dog as well, but he was having no luck. Ryan always keeps a dry change of clothes in his backpack, so he would do what any rational person would do, jump in the freezing cold water and save the dog. 

Getting the dog out of the water was easy and the dog was very thankful. Ryan brought the dog to the good Samaritans house where they tried to get her warm. She had been in the water for a very long time and her legs were weak. She could barely stand when they put her in the tub in warm water. Ryan held her up while the homeowner gently bathed her in warm water to get her blood flowing properly again. They then dried her off and gave her food and Ryan showered and changed his clothes before heading back to finish his route. 

The next day, he thought about whether the good Samaritan was able to find the dogs owner. He thought about going by after work to check, when the dog he saved from the frigid waters came bounding over to his truck during a delivery. The package he was delivering belonged to the owners of the lucky dog and they were happy to thank the man who saved their Sadie, which is the dogs name.

Ryan Arens did want any person would do, especially one whose an animal lover. He has a dog himself, a 14 year old Malamute Shepherd mix. They love going on walks and snuggling on the couch together. His dog is his world and he hopes that if his dog ever got out and got themselves in a sticky and scary situation, that someone would be there to save her, like he did Sadie. 

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