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Parrots Learn To Socialize Through Video Calls

Video calls turned out to be a great way for pet parrots to connect and interact with each other, especially when they are living alone or separated from their flock. This was the focus of a recent experiment conducted by researchers from Northeastern University, the University of Glasgow, and MIT. The goal of the study was to explore how pet parrots would respond to video calls with other parrots, and whether this could have any benefits for their well-being.

Parrots are social creatures that naturally live in flocks, and they thrive on social interaction and engagement with others. When kept as pets, however, they are often separated from other parrots and may become bored, anxious, or even self-destructive if they are left alone for long periods of time. This is why providing them with opportunities for socialization and engagement is so important for their health and happiness.

In this study, the researchers taught a group of pet parrots how to initiate video calls with other parrots using a touchscreen tablet. The birds were trained to ring a bell and then touch an image of another parrot on the tablet to start a call. In the first phase of the experiment, 212 video calls were made, each lasting up to 5 minutes or until the birds lost interest. During this phase, the birds showed a lot of curiosity and interest in the calls, and many of them learned new skills and behaviors from their bird friends.

In the second phase of the experiment, the birds were given the freedom to initiate calls on their own and choose who they wanted to call. They made 147 calls during this phase, and the calls typically lasted for at least 5 minutes each. The birds showed a wide range of behaviors and interactions during the calls, including singing, playing, showing off toys, and even calling out to each other.

According to the researchers, the birds seemed to really enjoy the video calls and benefited from the social interaction and engagement with their bird friends. They also learned new sounds and behaviors from each other, which suggests that video chatting could be a valuable tool for enriching the lives of pet parrots.

“I was quite surprised at the range of different behaviors,” co-author Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, an animal-computer interaction researcher at the University of Glasgow, tells the Guardian’s Hannah Devlin. “Some would sing, some would play around and go upside down, others would want to show another bird their toys.”

The study highlights the importance of providing pet parrots with opportunities for socialization and engagement, and suggests that video chatting could be a valuable tool for achieving this. By giving pet parrots the ability to connect with other parrots through video calls, we can help them lead happier and more fulfilling lives, and also learn new skills and behaviors from their bird friends.

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Cat Accidentally Shipped 650 Miles in Amazon Box, Found Safe

Renee Yates

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Cats are known for their love of boxes, and Galena, a cat from Central Utah, is no exception. This adventurous feline found herself on an unplanned journey over 650 miles away in California after sneaking into an Amazon return package. Her owner, Carrie Stephens Clark from Lehi, Utah, realized Galena was missing on April 10 and immediately started a thorough search.

Clark shared on Facebook that after searching their home, the local area, and even the Jordan River Trail without any luck, they posted flyers and turned to social media. The situation looked bleak until an unexpected call changed everything a week later. A veterinarian in California contacted Clark to report that Galena had been found after her microchip was scanned near Riverside. The cat had unknowingly climbed into a shoebox that was being sent back to Amazon and ended up in a warehouse.

At the warehouse, an Amazon employee, Brandy Hunter, noticed Galena inside a sealed box among returned items. Despite being scared and a bit dehydrated, Galena was in good health, with no injuries apart from potential bruises. Hunter, moved by the cat’s condition, helped her receive veterinary care and coordinated with Clark for her return.

Clark and her husband flew to California to reunite with Galena, and the reunion was described as magical. The family then drove 1,400 miles back to Utah to bring Galena home. Clark expressed her gratitude for the microchip that helped locate Galena quickly and stressed the importance of microchipping pets. She also humorously advised pet owners to double-check their boxes before returning them to avoid similar surprises.

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Second Chance at Old Friends: Woman Finds Healing Among Senior Dogs

Renee Yates

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Kerry Gluck’s story is one of resilience and finding purpose in unexpected places. It’s a tale marked by anniversaries – a devastating tornado four years ago, overcoming long-haul COVID two years back, and now, celebrating two years working at a place that’s become her sanctuary: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.

Life wasn’t always easy for Kerry. A tornado ripped through her Mt. Juliet neighborhood four years ago, leaving their home in ruins. Then came a battle with COVID that left her barely able to walk. These challenges forced her to retire from her 27-year nursing career.

But hope arrived two years ago when Kerry started working at Old Friends. Funded by donations, the sanctuary provides a loving home for senior dogs with medical needs.

“The elderly dogs hold a big place in my heart,” Kerry says. “Every day is filled with activities for the dogs, both here and those fostered in homes.”

Kerry feels a deep connection with the dogs, having experienced her own struggles. “I know what it’s like to need help,” she confides. “I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for this job.”

The sanctuary recently celebrated its 12th anniversary with a unique event – a “Geezer Gala” dog prom! Dressed in their finest attire, the senior pups enjoyed the company of guests and each other.

“It’s a wholesome environment,” Kerry beams. “It just fills your heart with joy.”

Kerry reflects on her journey, acknowledging the hardships and the unexpected blessings. “My life is completely different now,” she says. “I celebrate with hundreds of friends, some with two feet and some with four.”

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A Heartwarming Tale of Kindness: Gaia the Dog and Her New Life

Kevin Wells

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In a touching story of kindness and companionship, a dog named Gaia and her owner, Lisa Kanarek, are spreading joy and comfort to those in need. The story began when Gaia’s original owner, Sandra, was hospitalized, leaving Gaia confined to a small backyard. Concerned for the husky’s well-being, next-door neighbor Lisa Kanarek offered to walk her.

“I walked in, and then Gaia came up to me very slowly,” Kanarek recalled. “And then I said, ‘Oh, hi.'” What started as a kind gesture turned into a regular routine, with Kanarek walking Gaia while Sandra’s health continued to decline.

In a twist of fate, two weeks before Sandra passed away, she asked Kanarek if she would like to take care of Gaia permanently. Kanarek’s response was an enthusiastic “Sure. I would love to.” After Sandra’s death, Kanarek officially welcomed Gaia into her home, providing her with more walks and attention.

Noticing Gaia’s gentle nature with neighborhood children, Kanarek enrolled her in a pet therapy program, which she passed with flying colors. “I can tell, when I put on her vest, she’s ready to go,” Kanarek said. Their first assignment was at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, where Gaia brought comfort and joy to sick children.

Kanarek, who was finishing her training to be an end-of-life doula at the time, realized that Gaia was perfect for hospice therapy as well. Together, they now minister to the terminally ill, bringing solace and happiness in difficult times.

Asked whether she was doing this for Gaia’s benefit or for herself, Kanarek replied, “I think I’m doing this for both of us. I think it benefits both of us.” Gaia’s new life has brought her into the hearts of many, from the kids down the street to patients in hospitals. She provides laughter and levity, all with her tail wagging.

For Kanarek, life has also changed. Meeting dozens of people during their visits has brought out her extroverted tendencies, lost during the pandemic. “Before I knock on each patient’s door, I breathe in, then greet families with confidence,” she said.

As they walk through the halls of the children’s hospital, Kanarek thinks of Sandra and hopes she’s smiling, knowing how much joy Gaia brings to everyone she meets. “I’m trying not to cry,” Kanarek said, reflecting on her new life with Gaia. “It makes me happy; it makes me sad, because I wish I had known Sandra better, but I think this is the way that I’m helping keep her memory alive.”

Through their acts of kindness, Gaia and Kanarek are not only keeping Sandra’s memory alive but also making a positive impact on the lives of many.

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Frannie’s Remarkable Journey: From Overweight to Overjoyed

Kelly Taylor

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In a heartwarming story of transformation, a golden retriever named Frannie has captured the hearts of many. Once an overweight dog living a neglected life outdoors, Frannie’s journey to a healthier and happier life has inspired people around the world.

Frannie’s life took a turn for the better when Annika Bram, a 24-year-old second-year student at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, decided to foster her. Annika had recently lost her rescue dog, Georgia, who was also severely overweight when adopted. When Annika saw a video of Frannie, she immediately felt a connection.

“I think Georgia sent her to me,” Annika said, recalling how Frannie reminded her of Georgia. “Georgia is telling me I need to help this dog.”

Frannie weighed 125 pounds when she came into Annika’s care, which is about 65 pounds heavier than the average female golden retriever. Her weight was a result of a sedentary life, being fed table scraps, and untreated hypothyroidism. She never had proper vet care and was even found drinking out of a paint bucket.

The rescue operation was challenging, as it took four people to get Frannie into the back of a minivan. “She’s really been put through the wringer, and I think we got her just in time,” said Sydney Maleman, the president of the rescue group Rover’s Retreat.

Frannie was medically unstable when rescued, suffering from pneumonia and unable to hold her head up on her own. However, under Annika’s care, she has made remarkable progress. In less than three months, Frannie has lost 31 pounds, thanks to a strict weight-loss diet, thyroid medication, and increased exercise.

“Every day, her personality comes out more,” Annika said. “All that personality has been hidden away for so long.” Frannie now enjoys a bubbly nature and a sassy side, and Annika’s goal is to get her down to around 70 pounds.

The best part of Frannie’s transformation is seeing her enjoy life as a normal dog, with more autonomy and independence. Annika has now decided to adopt Frannie, giving her a forever home. “She’s not going anywhere,” Annika declared.

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Worcester Library’s Unique Approach to Solving Library Fees: March Meow

Renee Yates

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In Worcester, Massachusetts, the local library has come up with a creative and fun way to address the issue of lost or damaged books. The program, known as “March Meow,” allows library guests to reactivate their accounts by simply showing a picture of a cat. This innovative initiative is open to anyone who has misplaced or damaged a borrowed book and runs through the end of March.

Participants in the March Meow program can bring in any form of cat imagery, whether it’s a photo, a drawing, or a magazine clipping, to get their library card reactivated. The library has even set up a cat wall in the main building to display the various cat pictures and drawings contributed by patrons. This lighthearted approach has been a hit, with hundreds of returns already and numerous postings of random cat photos.

The local NPR affiliate, WBUR, described the initiative as a “never be-fur tried initiative,” encouraging patrons to “act meow.” Jason Homer, the executive director of the Worcester Library, is feeling “feline good” about the response. “We take a lot of honorary cats,” he said, referring to the diverse range of cat representations being accepted.

Even those without a cat can participate. One example is a 7-year-old boy who had not returned a “Captain Underpants” book. He had his library card reactivated after the staff provided him with paper and crayons to sketch a cat. “It spiraled in a good way from there,” Mr. Homer noted. “We were just trying to figure out the lowest barrier possible.”

The library’s message is clear: “It’s OK, we forgive you. Just show us a picture of a cat.” This approach not only addresses the issue of lost or damaged books but also helps to soften the stereotype of the stern librarian. “We don’t really have the high buns and ‘shush’ people anymore,” Mr. Homer said. “We are still book lovers, cardigan lovers, and cat lovers.”

Overall, the March Meow program is a unique and effective way for the Worcester Library to promote accountability and forgiveness among its patrons, all while celebrating the community’s love for cats.

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