New York Hosts Rat Fashion Show

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I thought rats were the most hated creatures in New York City, but it seems now it’s become fashionable to actually have them as pets.

On Sunday, dozens of rat lovers gathered in Manhattan to attend the world’s first Fancy Rat Convention, where pet fashion designer Ada Nieves showed off her rodent clothing collection, featuring rat tuxedos, wedding dressed, bridesmaids gowns and other exclusive designs. Her creations come complete with crystals or feathers and sell for about $80 each. ‘The rats look very cute and seem to like wearing them. Rats are very popular these days and the owners love to dress them up,’ the pet fashionista said.

According to rat owners present at the Fancy Rat Convention, despite the negative stereotype people have about rats, these creatures have amazing personalities which make them much more suitable pets than cats, dogs or ferrets. They are very sociable, intelligent, loving, and can be trained to do all kinds of tricks, from dancing to fetching stuff.

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Rolex Collar Makes Border Terrier a Real ‘Watchdog’

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I’ve written about pampered pooches before, but border terrier Smike is the only canine I know of who wears a Rolex luxury watch.

Karen Denney, a shop assistant from Crawford, a village close to St. Helens, England, wanted to buy her dog Smike something really special for his seventh birthday, and when she saw a designer collar that included a Rolex watch, she just couldn’t help herself. “Over the years I’ve seen a lot of accessories for cats and dogs but I wanted something a bit different. I wouldn’t usually go for something this flashy but when I saw this design I just had to have one,” Karen said, adding that her beloved Smike has become a local celebrity.

I’m not exactly sure if Smike’s Rolex is genuine, though…According to The Sun it costs £2,500 ($4,130), but MidDay.com reports it’s actually a £200 Rolex replica. Whatever the case, Smike’s ultimate accessory has become an instant hit and Karen gets asked where she got it whenever she takes her border terrier out for a stroll. It was the work of local designer Alisone Jones, who specializes in luxury accessories for pets.

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Shirley, the Chain Smoking Orangutan

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A prisoner at a Malaysian zoo where attendants have turned their backs on animals a long time ago, Shirley the orangutan has developed a nasty smoking habit that is putting her life at risk.

Malaysia’s booming economy places it among the wealthiest countries in the world, but you definitely could’t tell by visiting one of its zoos. According to voluntary non-profit organization, Nature Alert, the south-eastern Asian country has some of the worst animal zoos on the planet, and while the government launched a new law forcing zoos to get up to standard within six months, no one believes this will happen without some serious publicity. A recent investigation conducted at 10 Malaysian zoos yielded some horrifying facts: animals were kept in dirty enclosures barely large enough to turn around in, others had no clean drinking water, while some were even force to perform in front of visitors.

But one of the most shocking cases is that of Shirley the orangutan, who begs for cigarette butts from tourists, in order to satisfy her tobacco addiction. She constantly reaches her arm out through the bars in order to get to the cigarettes and spends most of her day smoking one cigarette stump after the other. Some visitors apparently find her smoking pretty amusing since they blatantly ignore the “no smoking” sign in front of her enclosure and keep throwing her cigarette butts. When she isn’t smoking, the 25-year-old orangutan chews on sharp aluminum soda cans and all kinds of dangerous trash people throw in her cage.

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Feline Photographer Offers a Cat’s-Eye View on Life

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Cooper, a normal house cat from Seattle, has recently become one of the world’s most talked-about photographers after his owners tied a timer-controlled camera around his neck, which takes snaps of his day-to-day adventures.

His brilliant career began last year, when his owners, Michael and Deirdre Cross decided to attach the tiny camera in order to answer the question that plagues all cat owners – “where does my cat go all day?” It started out as a fun geography experiment, but when Cooper came home the first day, and they saw the amazing photos they were completely blown away. Michael and Deirdre realized it wasn’t about where their furry pet went all day, but about how beautiful and lush their neighborhood looked from a feline’s perspective.

The mini camera around Cooper’s neck takes photos every two minutes, revealing everything that he sees. Whether it catches other cats, one of his many hiding places, his owners, or the big blue sky, the camera revealed some pretty amazing shots and practically made Cooper a star. It also helped his owners understand more about their pet, for example, they noticed Cooper spent a lot of time looking at the back door, and realized a lot of his time was spent looking for a way to get inside. So they got a cat flap and noticed he was much happier.

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The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the Cats

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The Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the Cats is regarded as a sacred cat haven in Cyprus, as it’s name has been linked to felines for almost 2,000 years.

The original monastery was built in 327 AD, by Kalokeros, the first Byzantine governor of Cyprus, and patronised by Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. At that time, a terrible drought affected the whole of Cypus, and the entire island was overrun with poisonous snakes which made building the monastery a dangerous affair. Many of the inhabitants left their homes and moved off the island, for fear of the snakes, but Saint Helena came up with a solution to the plague – she ordered 1,000 cats to be shipped in from Egypt and Palestine to fight the reptiles.

In the following years, the cats did their duty, hunting and killing most of the snakes in the Akrotiri Peninsula, which soon came to be known as the “Cat Peninsula”. The monks would use a bell to call the cats to the monastery at meal time, and then the felines were dispatched to their snake-hunting duties. Pilgrims from all around Europe traveled to the Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas to see its feline guardians, and the discovered documents of a Venetian monk describe them as scarred, missing various body parts, some completely blind as a result of their relentless battle against the snakes.

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German Girl Trains Cow as a Show Horse

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Regina Mayer, a 15-year-old girl from Laufen, Southern Germany, rides her pet cow Luna as if she were a well-trained show horse.

The young girl always wanted her own horse, but her parents kept saying “no”, and since she had a stable full of cows at her disposal, Regina decided she was going to try and ride one. After hundreds of hours of training and many baskets of treats, she managed to teach Luna to jump over home-made hurdles, just like a show horse.

Regina remembers that she knew Luna was special ever since she was born, three years ago. The calf came right up to her, she wasn’t shy like most other young cattle, and they developed a special friendship ever since. The 15-year-old began riding Luna about six months ago and she even contacted a riding school in Switzerland, and received some tips on how to train and equip the bovine in a way similar to a show horse. The two went for long rides around the countryside of Southern Germany and Luna become more and more comfortable, especially since her friend Regina made sure to give her delicious carrots during each outing.

Young Regina Mayer says Luna is definitely very clever, she knows what she can do and what she can’t. Right now she’s able to jump over a-meter-high hurdles, but the rider is confident this year they will reach 1.20 meters. She admits people always look at her funny when they see her riding a cow, but she wouldn’t dream of trading Luna for a horse. The trained cow has become her best friend, following her around wherever she goes, something a horse would never do.

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Chinese Animal Lover Adopts 140 Stray Dogs

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Li Zongwen, a former chef from Wuhan, has made online headlines after Chinese media discovered he has taken in 140 stray dogs from the outskirts of the city.

The 59-year-old man began adopting strays from the streets of Wuhan in 2009, and in just two years time he has taken-in an impressive 140 hungry dogs. He put a roof over their heads, but admits he couldn’t afford to feed all of them, without donations from other local animal lovers. Food and rent for Mr. Li and his big family of canines cost around 5,000 yuan ($760) which is way more than he could pay on his own.

Although sharing a home with 140 animals isn’t exactly an easy task, considering the noise he has to put up with at night, and the considerable mess he has to clean up after them, Li Zongwen doesn’t complain. On the contrary, he likes having them around as he prepares a big bowl of dog chow, using a garden shovel, and even eats his own meals in their company. Maybe he should get in touch with Ha Wenjin, the woman who looks after 1,500 stray dogs and 200 cats, I’m sure they have a lot to learn from each other.

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Deaf Puppy Learns Sign Language from Her Deaf Owners

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Everyone knows how important it is for dogs to associate sounds with commands, but Alice, a deaf eight-weeks-old springer spaniel is currently learning sign language commands, from her new owners.

The poor puppy had a rough start in life, after being abandoned by a breeder who decided a dog that couldn’t learn commands wouldn’t bring him any money. When she was brought to The Blue Cross adoption center, Alice was sick, dirty and very nervous, and the staff though they would have a tough time finding a family willing to take in a dog that required lots of special training. But when Marie Williams and her family first laid eyes on the cute canine, they new they had find the pet they were looking for.

Marie fell in love with puppy the moment she saw her, and when she learned she was actually deaf, that just made her even more special in her eyes. Miss Williams and her partner, Mark Morgan, are also deaf, so they knew Alice would fit right in with the family. Now, less the a month after being adopted, the puppy has already learned some basic commands, and her new masters are using sign language to teach her other tricks. ‘Alice is such a loving and responsive dog and she proves that with a bit of time and effort, a deaf dog can be trained and become a wonderful pet,” said Julie Stone, manager of The Blue Cross center.

 

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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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