Scooter-Riding Dog Becomes Internet Sensation

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Norman, a 20-months-old Briard, has become quite the online star, after his owners posted videos of him riding a scooter.

The incredible canine who lives with the Cobb family, in Canton, Georgia, started playing with a razor scooter in the backyard, when he was a pup. Karen Cobb says they saw him playing around with it and decided to give him a ride on it. He seemed to like it, so they tried to teach him to push it on his own. Now, Norman loves riding his favorite toy as often as he can.

Norman is a very clever dog; he got his Companion Dog Title when he was just 15 months old, and is a regular at canine obedience competitions. In fact, the French Briard breed is known for talents like search and rescue, police work, guarding and herding. Throughout history, they’ve been loyal companions to important figures like Napoleon Bonaparte or Thomas Jefferson.

After the Cobbs posted videos of him riding around on a scooter, Norman quickly became an Internet sensation and is now one of the most popular friends on Facebook and has made an appearance on Stupid Pet Tricks on The Late Show with David Letterman.

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Actuel Dogs – World’s First Four-Star Hotel for Dogs

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Actuel Dogs bills itself as the first luxury dog hotel in France, and claims its facilities and staff are everything your pooch needs to feel pampered.

Located on the outskirts of Paris, in the chic suburb of Vincennes, this four-star establishment for pets is the brainchild of Devi and Stan Burun, a dog behaviour specialist and a lifelong dog-lover. Unlike similar luxury facilities in the US or Japan, Actuel Dogs tries to cater to dogs’ needs. “It’s not like in the United States or – giving the dogs manicures, dying their fur pink — that’s human madness. Our priority is to meet the dogs’ needs,” Devi says, adding that “people think we serve the dogs’ food from silver platters but this is not pointless, extravagant luxury.”

People who live in small apartments and don’t have the walk or look after their pets, bring them to Actuel Dogs, where they’ll get all the comfort and attention they crave. Here they enjoy a dip in the pool, relaxing massages, fine cuisine meals, calming walks through the nearby woods, and loads of other fun activities. When it’s time for a nap, canines are escorted to one of the hotel’s six rooms, adorned with soft cushions, framed dog prints and LCD Tvs, so they can watch their favorite DVDs.

Before they book their first stay, dogs are evaluated for aggressive behaviour, and if they pass they will enjoy a “concept that is human, but it’s completely adapted to dogs’ needs.” Prices for a day at Actuel Dogs hotel vary between 26 and 35 euros ($36 – $48), but the luxury treatment and the fact that dogs aren’t kept in uncomfortable cages makes owners fork out the cash.

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Belgian Blue Cattle – Bodybuilders of the Bovine World

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Belgian Blue cattle may look like they’ve spent most of their lives pumping iron, but they owe their double muscle characteristics to years of careful breeding and genetics.

Like the name implies, this incredible bred of cattle originated in Belgium. In the second half of the 19th century, Shorthorn bulls from the United Kingdom were sent to Belgium to improve the muscle structure of the native cattle population, which was mostly of the dairy type. Until the 1960s, a balanced animal, which provided average quantities of milk and had averagely lean meat was desired, but in response to the demands of the meat industry and the general economic climate, the Belgian Blue began being bread for its meat. This is when the “double muscling” breakthrough was achieved, after farmers began breeding their most muscular animals to each other. The size of its muscles, low fat and especially the tenderness of the meat made the Belgian Blue a very popular breed.

Some people believe “double muscling” means these cattle have two of every muscle, but that isn’t the case. The term refers only to the size of each muscle, meaning that muscles of Belgian Blue cows and bulls are at least twice as developed as normal cow muscles. Genetic scientists have managed to achieve this by “breaking” the gene that controls the secretion of Myostatin – a protein that inhibits muscle growth after a certain point of development. By suppressing the production of Myostatin, they’ve created a kind of Arnold Schwarzenegger of the animal world.

If you’re having trouble understanding just how big and muscular these animals are, you should know some bulls weigh over a tonne. And to think that’s mostly muscle…Some countries, like Denmark, have advocated eliminating the strain, but considering Belgian Blue is for meat what the Holstein breed is for milk, I doubt breeders will stop raising these animal bodybuilders anytime soon.

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Dog Lover Spends $160,000 Pampering Her Pooches

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31-year-old Louise Harris has to be one of the craziest dog owners in the world, having spent over $160,000 in the last six years, buying jewelry and accessories for her three pets.

“A lot of people think I’m mad, and I realize it’s completely over the top, but I want to give them the best life I possibly can” says Ms. Harris, who would do practically anything to make her three Yorkshire terriers happy. Six years ago, she fell in love with tiny Lola, who could fit in the palm of her hand, ans immediately started ordering collars and clothing items for her. Since the ones she found in the UK weren’t very comfortable, she started ordering from the United States, and before she realized it, she had bought a whole wardrobe for her beloved dog.

Two years later she bough Lulu, and in 2008 she got Larry, and spared no expense in feeling them like royalty. The spoiled trio only wear collars and tiaras studded with rubies, emeralds and Swarovski crystals, as well as the latest designer accessories, and receive weekly massages and deep coat conditioning treatments. The dogs sleep in a $in a $3,200 four-poster bed and are featured in a commissioned oil painting that cost $8,000.  Oh, and last Christmas they received $6,500 worth of presents.

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Feline Lover Collects over 2,000 Ceramic Cats

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60-year-old Pamela Cole has spent most of her life putting together an impressive collection of over 2,000 ceramic cats, and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

When Ms. Cole says she’s crazy about cats, you best believe she means it – her house in Hollywood, Birmingham is practically full of ceramic cats, from a common replicas of cartoon characters like Top Cat, to 7th century BC Egyptian statuettes.

This unusual obsession with ceramic cats can be traced back to Pamela Cole’s childhood years, in the 1940s, when her mother bought her a cat to stop her feeling lonely. It was a simple pottery cat from a gift store in Corporation Street, but it kick-started her passion for collecting, and from then on she spent her days scouring shops and craft fairs in search of cat china.

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Hotel for Chicken Opens Up in Cornwall

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I’ve read and written about a some pretty unusual hotels, in the past, but this is the first chicken hotel I’ve ever heard of.

The Chicken Hotel created by 31-year-old David Roberts, from Boskenwyn, Helston, is almost just like any other hotel out there, with one big difference – instead of people, it offers accommodations for chicken. I know it sounds like a joke, but this  place is for real, and apparently  it’s also very successful.

“With more people looking to escape the rat race and move out in the country with a little bit of land, keeping chickens is becoming more and more popular. But what do you do if you go away on holiday? Who looks after the chicken?” asks Mr. Roberts, who opened his unusual establishment to encourage people to raise their own chicken. A former cabinet-maker, David Roberts built the chicken coops himself and now rents them for 2 pounds each, plus 75 pence per chicken.

Each coop in the Chicken Hotel holds up to eight chicken and the current offer includes buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner of local produce, served in open-air. Guests are allowed to roam around the hotel grounds all day, before being gathered to roost at night. According to Mr. Roberts, the hotel was fully booked over Christmas time, and he hopes half term and Easter will be just as successful.

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Rat Loving Couple Has 27 Rodent Pets

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Most people see rats as filthy pests that inspire disgust and fear, but for Kevin and Kate Rattray, they are just cute furry pets that make their lives better.

Members of the Yorkshire Rat Club, these two Brits really have a thing for rats,and say they are among the most intelligent and interactive pets a person could have. Kate had her first pet rats while she was still in university, but Kevin grew up on the farm, where rats were looked upon as vermin which had to be exterminated. But right after they adopted their first rat, in 2006, his opinion changed radically and he’s now quite fond of his brood.

Kevin and Kate say they’ve never had that parental instinct for kids, a gap successfully filled by the 27 rats they have to take care of, every day. Even their friends have learned to accept the furry pets, and some of them even play with them when they visit.

The Rattray rat loving couple will soon be featured on Channel 4, in the documentary “First Cut”, which explores their unique household, and their unusual relationship with 27 rat pets.

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Leao – The Dog Who Refuses to Leave His Owner’s Graveside

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A photo of a Brazilian dog siting by his owner’s muddy grave, near Rio de Janeiro, has been circulating around the Internet and touching the hearts of millions. His name is Leao and simply refuses to leave the graveside of his owner Cristina Maria Cesario Santana, who died during the terrible landslides that devastated Brazil, last week. The photos below were taken during the second consecutive day in which Leao sat by his owner’s final resting place, and showing the entire world that loyalty goes way beyond the grave.

These photos of Leao remind me of the true story of Hachiko, another monument of canine loyalty that has inspired Japanese dog lovers for years.

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Canine Helper Actually Works Like a Dog

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Sadie, a four-year-old Terrier-cross has learned to do pretty much everything her paralyzed owner can’t do anymore, including shopping and washing laundry.

Sue Line was paralyzed from the waist down, 40 years ago, after she was thrown from a car during a New Year’s Eve smash. Her family has always been very supportive, always helping her with daily chores, but four years ago she thought about getting a dog, for companionship. She brought Sadie home when she was just a few weeks old, and noticed her intelligence right from the start. But it wasn’t until she received training at dog charity – Dog AID (Assistance in Disability) that Sadie reached her full potential.

In just two years’ time, this amazing canine learned an almost endless list of ways to help her owner and improve her quality of life. When they go shopping together, Sadie always carries the bag, picks up groceries, and even reaches for the money in Sue’s purse, and hands it over to the store clerk. She also fills the washing machine, separating the loads into whites and darks, and locking the machine door before the washing cycle begins. She gets Sue her phone whenever it starts ringing, brings her the mail and even helps her undress.

Ms. Line says the hardest thing to teach Sadie was to ignore the smell of food when they go into restaurants. At first she was drooling all over the place, but after a few training sessions she’s now in complete control. The 61-year-old retired health trust manager, from Coventry, Britain, says Sadie has helped her regain some of her independence and gave her loved ones some time to breath, knowing Sadie’s on the job.

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Africa’s Most Dangerous Animal Is Man’s Best Friend

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The hippo is regarded as he most dangerous animal in Africa, but that hasn’t stopped a South African animal lover from making friends with one.

40-year-old Marius Els breeds around 20 different animal species, on his wildlife ranch, near Petrus Steynlakes, South Africa, but he has a real soft spot for Humphrey, a 6-year-old hippo that’s like a son to him. While all of his friends are too scared to go near the animal, and his wife told him not to get too close, Marius climbs on Humhprey’s back  as he swims across a 200-meter-wide lake.

Marius has raised Humphrey since he was just five months old, and over the years, the two have developed a special relationship that people just don’t understand. Most of the world may look upon hippos with fear, but he considers Humphrey to be like a son, although the 1,200 ton creature could chew through him with ease. But, apart from occasionally throwing Marius off his back in the water, Humphrey acts very friendly around his owner, especially after Marius offers him a feats of his favorite treat, apples.

Despite the special friendship with Marius, Humphrey feels very lonely at this point in his life. He had another good friend, a goat, but she got eaten by a jackal, so now he’s all by himself. Marius says he’s been trying to get a tamed female companion for Humphrey, but there’s no such thing in Africa right now, and bringing in a wild one would be too dangerous. If the untamed female isn’t younger than he is, they would just kill each other. On the other hand, he can’t release Humphrey in the wild, because the other male hippos would almost definitely kill him in a fight. At least Humphrey will also have Marius to keep him company

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Python Wedding Held in Cambodian Village

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Over 1,000 people gathered in the Cambodian village of Sit Bow, to witness the wedding of two pythons, believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the settlement.

Early 2008, I wrote a post about a Cambodian boy who had an unusually friendly relationship with a full grown python. Villagers believed he was the son of a dragon, and had supernatural powers. Fast forward to present day, Chamerun, the boy’s female pet snake is getting married to male Krong Pich, and the whole village has gathered for the big ceremony.

While most Camodians are Buddhists, they also believe in animism – a belief that spirits inhabit the bodies of animals – so whenever a bizarre animal makes an appearance, there are always speculations about it being housing some important spirit. Fortunetellers told the two snake owner their reptiles were soul mates blessed by the gods, and that they needed to be married and live together, otherwise the village will be struck by bad luck.

The marriage ceremony lasted two hours and was attended by people from all around the village area. Two Buddhist monks  blessed the snake couple, while villagers showered them with flowers and sang traditional wedding music. It must have been pretty creepy, for the pythons, of course.

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El Chupacabra Found in Kentucky?

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It happened in Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, where this strange looking creature appeared in Mark Cothren’s yard and got itself shot Now, all over the internet, people are wondering if this is just an animal suffering from a skin disease or the fabled chupacabra.

The legend of “el chupacabra” (Spanish word for “goat sucker”) began back in the 1990s, when when more and more stories told by people claiming they had seen this creature started circulating in Puerto Rico and rapidly spread throughout the Americas.

“I was like ‘every animal has hair, especially this time of year!’. What puzzled me is how something like that could survive through a winter with no hair. Everybody is getting very curious, you know. The phone is ringing off the hook. It’s kind of a mystery right now,” said Mark Cothren.

Opinions differ from one person to another, as some assume it is a cat, maybe a dog or a raccoon, but if it’s one thing they all agree on, it’s that it’s really strange looking. “It’s hard to tell what an animal is from just a photograph. This is an animal that’s native to our area, most likely that is suffering from some type of disease,” said Sam Clites from the Louisville Zoo.

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Meet the Real Life Tom and Jerry

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If you are a big fan of Tom and Jerry, like me, you will most certainly fall in love with this real life version of the famous duo.

It might look like it, but 51-year-old Carolyne Brading didn’t use a cat and mouse as decorations for the Christmas tree. Bumble, her 14-month-old cat, got tangled in the lights and tinsel of the Christmas tree, while chasing a mouse. And while the clever little mouse managed to get to the top, Bumble didn’t make it more than half way up.

The owners, Mrs. Brading and her husband Stan, are very proud to have had the chance to capture this unusual but hilarious moment on camera:

“When we walked into the room we found him perched in the branches about half way up, and the mouse was peering down on him. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We grabbed the camera straight away because it’s certainly not something we think we’ll witness again. Despite the awkward position, Bumble looked quite comfortable. We lifted him out and the mouse scurried away.

‘The tree was a mess. The angel that had previously been on top of the tree was on the floor and there were baubles everywhere. It took me an hour to put everything back together again. Everybody who sees the pictures thinks it’s hysterical – just like a scene out of Tom and Jerry,” said Mrs Brading.

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Japanese Researchers Create Tweeting Mouse

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In a genetically engineered experiment, Japanese scientists at the University of Osaka have created a mouse that tweets like a bird. After crossbreeding genetically altered mice for some time, to see what would happen, they apparently got their first interesting result, by mistake. Researcher Arikuni Uchimura said they were expecting physical mutations, but definitely not a tweeting mouse.

The “mistake” happened at the University of Osaka called “Evolved Mouse Project”, where scientists have the sole purpose of breeding mice ‘pron to miscopying DNA and thus to mutation”, without knowing for sure what will the end results may be.

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Dog Gives Birth to Seventeen Puppies

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A dog in Germany gained it’s celebrity after giving birth to 17 puppies. Both the owners and the vet were thrilled and amazed by this “numerous” surprise, especially since all the puppies were born naturally, without a cesarean being necessary, and although the birth took almost 26 hours, all puppies have survived and are in good health.

Ramona Wegemann, Etana’s owner is very proud of her dog, a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback, but non the less exhausted after having to cope with feeding and taking care of all the 17 puppies for the first 4 weeks, as their mother wouldn’t have been able to deal with all of them.

This was Etana’s second pregnancy, but the first time she gave birth to 8 puppies, a number very common for her breed, so nobody really saw this coming. As this has turned into a full time job, both Ramona and her husband have had to dedicate most of their time, and space, to these little ones. Their living room was turned upside down as it is now occupied by a giant box housing the puppies. It’s really a full time job,

Etana has given birth to 9 male and 8 female puppies, and as you can imagine, their owners are having a difficult time telling them apart: the male puppies are called Baakir, Banjoku, Belay, Bruk, Bundu, Bayo, Bukekayo, Biton and Bulus and the female ones are Bahati, Binta, Bahya, Bashima, Batouuli, Binki, Bora, Bisa. These are all African names, because the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an African breed, but…do all African names start with a “B” or is this a real weird coincidence?

The 17 puppies were born on September 26, and since then four of them have been sold, two more are already paid for, and Ramona hopes she will be able to find good homes for all of them. But she says they are only considering families with children, not breeders.

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