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Service Dogs Receive Valuable Training During Recently Held Theater Performance





A typical audience for the performance of a popular musical tends to feature young and old people alike with varying levels of experience with the medium. Some may know lyrics to all the songs while others may just be trying to keep up with the happenings.

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Still, you don’t usually expect to see dogs taking part in the festivities, but for one recently held show, that turned out to be the case.

Via Little Things, a performance of the acclaimed musical “Billy Elliot” at the Festival Theatre in Ontario, Canada was attended by numerous dogs. It was a unique audience to say the least, but there was a good reason behind why the dogs were asked to be present for the performance.

These were not ordinary dogs catching a show. They are from K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs.

The performance itself was not of the usual variety. On the aforementioned occasion, the theater company put on a “relaxed performance.”

Per the Stratford Festival’s website, relaxed performances differ from the regular performances in that they are meant for attendees who will feel more comfortable being a part of a “less restricted audience environment.”

To further differentiate the relaxed performances from their more conventional counterparts and to also make them more accommodating, they also feature reduced lighting and sounds so as to prevent any audience members from being startled during the performance itself.

The relaxed performance of “Billy Elliot” was not just for the sake of entertaining the service dogs as it was also intended more to provide training for the hounds. The dogs who were present for the show were asked to sit along theater seats and they were taught how to properly behave as the show progressed.

Speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Laura Mackenzie, the owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, said that the training was “important” for the dogs as it can prepare them to act accordingly in the future when the time comes for their handler to attend their preferred activities.

Mackenzie also pointed out that the dogs being at the performance was beneficial because it gave them an opportunity to be exposed to different kinds of lights and noises.

The theater company was also complimentary of the service dogs who were on hand for the relaxed performance of “Billy Elliot.” Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager said that the dogs were “extremely well-behaved” during the performance. Swerdfager also highlighted the way in which the dogs moved about the theater, saying that they acted just like people would for a performance.

It’s not just the service dogs and their potential future handlers who benefited from the recent relaxed performance. Swerdfager said that the dogs being in the audience also helped the performers. Thanks to the experience, the performers were able to get a sense of what it’s like to put on a show for an audience made up of people as well as some service dogs.

The hope here is that the training will make it possible for more people to attend theater shows.

More service dogs could also be heading to the theater sometime soon. Mackenzie already has plans to bring new service dogs to future performances.

While nothing is set in stone just yet, it’s possible that more service dogs could get a taste of the theater when a relaxed performance of “The Neverending Story” takes place in October. To be more specific, a relaxed performance of “The Neverending Story” is expected to take place on Oct. 2 at the Avon Theatre.

For those eager to see the service dogs as they were attending the show, K-9 Country Inn Service Dogs has an Instagram account featuring them.



Zookeepers Set Up Camera And Capture Pregnant Rhino Giving Birth Without Any Assistance

Renee Yates



For a whopping sixteen months, Asha carried her baby in her womb. Asha, a rare greater one-horned rhinoceros, lives at the Chester Zoo in Cheshire, England. Luckily, her labor and delivery were much quicker than the gestational period was for her baby Rhino to come into the world.

After only about 20 minutes of labor, Asha successfully delivered a healthy male calf in the early morning hours on May 3, 2018, at her home at the Chester Zoo. The staff at the zoo were able to capture Asha’s labor and delivery on video. The mama had an easy delivery on the floor of her enclosure and did not require assistance from the staff as she labored and brought her 132-pound baby boy. Once he is fully grown, Asha’s son will balloon to an eye-popping two tons plus in weight!

Guests of the Chester Zoo were excited to visit the little rhino and his mama in their exhibit. Asha’s baby is named Akeno which means “beautiful sunrise.” Along with his birth, Akeno’s first steps were also caught on tape along with snuggles with his 11-year-old mother Asha. They are a hit at the zoo and seem to be getting along well.

The staff at the well-visited zoo have been working towards keeping beautiful animals like Asha and baby Akeno together and better protected. One-horned rhinos are one-horned rhinos that are endangered at this point in a critical way and the staff is hoping the miraculous birth will not only attract visitors to the zoo but will draw attention to their work on this front. Animals like Asha and baby Akeno are the object of hunters who illegally poach them to be able to obtain their horns and sell them. There is a market for them as they are used in traditional Chinese medicine. A hunter can sell a single horn on the Asian black market for around $65,000 United States dollars. Even more offensive is the fact that wealthy hunters simply want the horns to hang on their walls and show off to friends as a status symbol of wealth and popularity.

According to a staff member of the Chester Zoo, not long ago there were less than 200 greater one-horned rhinoceros in the wild.

“They were hunted almost to extinction. Just in time steps were taken to protect them. Now there are about 2,600, but they still face threats in India and Nepal… it’s important we do all we can to stop their numbers going down to critical levels again.”

As the staff and many others work hard to fight against the illegally poaching of these beautiful animals, Asha and Akeno, who appears like he is dressed in a dark gray suit of armor, are enjoying their stay at the zoo and the many delighted visitors they come into contact with each day. The birth of Akeno on video has drawn more new visitors to the Chester Zoo and everyone seems to be happy with this new situation.

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A Successful Dinner Party is Brought Together by a Garfield Cat

Renee Yates



When it comes to throwing a party, there is a lot to keep in mind. While most people like to think about the food, the guests, and the setting, there are several other key issues to address as well. This story comes from a land were cat lovers are trying to throw the ultimate dinner party. Sure, there are plenty of people out there who love cats. Cats are meant to be pets and they are incredibly popular, just like dogs. On the other hand, this mother was looking for a very specific type of cat. 

This mother has two young children who are absolutely obsessed with the cat known as Garfield. This cat is known for his mysterious stories and has been the focus of books, movies, and TV shows. One of the best-known facts about Garfield is that he has an innate love for all things lasagna. Therefore, this mother decided to go the extra mile for her children. She went out looking for a cat who looked like Garfield to complete the dinner party. Of course, the focus of the party was going to be lasagna; however, a cat that looked like Garfield would help to bring everything together. In the eyes of many, this could end up being the best Saturday night ever.

The mother went out on her search. She posted about her search for Garfield on International Cat Day. She tried to search everywhere looking for an orange cat that would suit her purposes. It turns out that a cat who looks like Garfield is a bit hard to find. Therefore, she became desperate. She decided to make a public sign that would announce her intent to the world.

On the sign, she wrote that she would only need to borrow the cat for a day or two at most. She knew that many cats already had owners and expressed her intent to bring the cat back after the party was finished. She probably didn’t know the attention the post was going to receive when she first put up the flyer about Garfield. The flyer read like a “help wanted” sign! She stated clearly that she only wanted to borrow an orange cat for a day or two at most. She mentioned the need to have a Garfield cat to eat lasagna with her family, including her children. She stated that she would make sure the cat was healthy and not require the cat to eat the lasagna if not desired. 

She even mentioned that she did NOT want to keep the cat! She mentioned that she even might sound a bit crazy but was really only desperate! The post was so funny and heartwarming that it was shared online. For sure, the post ended up going viral. Suddenly, it worked! There was a great Garfield cat that showed up to the house on Saturday night. This Garfield even brought along some cupcakes with orange icing! Without a doubt, the kids were thrilled. They all sat down for dinner and Garfield ate his own food instead. The family got time to play with Garfield after dinner until it was time for him to go home. It turns out, this Garfield already has a happy home.

This Garfield belongs to a medical student located in Oklahoma City. His willingness to donate Garfield certainly deserves to be praised. What a heartwarming story about someone who was willing to go the extra mile to make a family happy on a Saturday evening. Isn’t Garfield the best?

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Firefighters do not give up on horse stuck in mud

Renee Yates



It was a warm summer night in August of 2018 when Chris and Tiffany Flynn of Castle Rock, Colorado, noticed the neighing of their horses out in the pasture.

The beautiful 1,200-pound Tennessee walking horse named Partner had vanished and they knew something was wrong and they needed to find him quickly. The couple made their way down to a nearby pond and found their missing horse.

Partner had somehow managed to slide down a 10-foot embankment into a giant mud pit, where he had become stuck. He simply could not get his ample body loose from the thick, sticky ground that had seemed to swallow him.

At first, Chris and Tiffany could only stand there and look at their poor horse while frozen in shock. As panic and confusion set in, they tried to form a plan of action to save the life of their much-loved yet giant horse.

The couple worked at desperately trying to free Partner but he began to sink even deeper into the thick, sticky mud pit that had consumed him and it seemed like an impossible feat to achieve.

Tiffany made her way into the mud, walking waist-deep in it, as her feet began to sink. The realization that she may not be able to escape the muddy hole herself was not lost on her. As Partner continued to struggle to free himself, the deeper he sank.

Chris phoned 911 for help and by 11 p.m., Castle Rock firefighters and other first-responders were on the scene of the Flynn home in the beautiful suburb of Denver. They had to lug their equipment to the area where Partner was stuck which was complicated by the large distance it was from the main road to the farm.

Hiking with their equipment in tow for about a half of a mile to Partner’s location, the firefighter began digging. The continued into the night for about three hours before they were able to use a sling, which required webbing and a pulley to create, to secure Partner and drag him back up the 10-foot embankment to safety. A local veterinarian was on the scene to treat and hydrate the horse after he was freed.

She specializes in large animals and said it was the most technically difficult rescues she has ever seen.

Lt. Jay Allen, a firefighter with the Castle Rock Police Department, told a local news station that he and the other firefighters would attempt to remove the mud and water from the area in which the horse was stuck to no avail at first.

“We would try to remove the mud and the water from him, but he was just stuck in there, that vacuum that was created from it. And so it took finally breaking that vacuum, that seal that was there for us to pop him up and out,” said Allen.

After hours of working diligently, the firefighters were able to free the beautiful horse from his pit of mud.

“It’s amazing to see Partner out of the pit. We are so grateful to the Castle Rock Fire Department and others for working to free Partner,” said Chris as he put his arms around Partner’s neck to reassure him that he was not in trouble for the freak accident.

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A Big Fluffy Dog in the Air

Kelly Taylor



Think back and a bit and try to remember your first plane ride if you’ve been on one. If not, try to imagine what it might be like, a mix if excitement, anxiety and a whole lot of the unknown. Then you feel the plane moving, the engine humming, and you see the runway zipping by the window. Suddenly, you feel gravity pull on you as the plane lifts off the ground and you are truly flying for the first time. It’s not a sensation one quickly forgets right away.

So, what might that same adventure be like as an experience for a dog? Well, that’s how a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees named Woody got to find out. He was able to receive his very own plane ride from his past to his new home.

Woody didn’t start off with a wonderful, exciting life. Instead, for a good number of years Woody lived as a stray dog, wandering around North Carolina. But the time animal control was able to secure the dog, is was pretty banged up and suffering from a lot of health problems. The dog had parasites inside him, his fur was messed up with mange, and the dog was mentally depressed as exhibited in his cage behavior. The shelter folks really didn’t have a lot of hope for Woody, especially given how expensive his medical care was going to be to get the dog back into a good place.

However, once they heard about the dog, the staff at LaMancha Animal Rescue wanted to help and bring the dog in. The problem was distance. The Animal Rescue was located in Unionsville, PA. Woody was half a nation away from that critical help. So, it took Paul Steklenski and his work with Flying Fur Animal Rescue to bridge the gap. And in doing so, Woody was going to take a ride on a plane for the first time in his dog life.

Steklenski was no stranger to saving dogs. He’s flown more than 1,000 different dogs to life-saving locations via plane. After adopting his own dog, Tessa, Paul realized that he could help save hundreds of dogs just getting them to the right location with a plane. It literally meant the difference between having a life in a rescue shelter or adoption versus being euthanized.

That said, Woody’s trip wasn’t a luxury ride. Steklanski had to move five dogs in total, so the trip was going to be a bit cramped. However, once the plane got off the ground, Woody’s curiosity came alive and the big dog started moving towards a window to see what was going on. He started watching the clouds and perking up. Not only did Woody do so well flying, he even help Paul relax during some bumpy stretches with testy air turbulence. Woody eventually got tired and napped a bit. But when he woke up the dog was in a great mood and looking out the window again.

After finally arriving at LaMancha Animal Rescue, Woody eventually did very well. He regained weight, his fur became healthy again, and Woody regained a wonderful disposition. He even remembered Paul when the rescue flyer visited again two weeks later. And, like a giant furball, Woody loves to play with everyone who deals with him. And, believe it or not, Woody also got adopted and found a permanent home too. The flight really was a new beginning for the big dog, and it saved his life. The rescue also reaffirmed Paul Steklanski’s work and that of all animal rescues.

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Family Adopts an Enormous Puppy Who Is Compared to a Hippo

Shannon Jackson



There is a saying that dogs are a man’s best friend. There are countless individuals and families out there who are looking to share their love with a dog. One of the biggest questions people face when they are thinking about adopting a dog is the type of breed they would like. There are so many great options to choose from that it can be hard to make a decision. One couple in the United Kingdom decided to go with the biggest puppy they could possibly find.

This couple had been looking for a new dog for a long time. They already have four dogs at home but were ready for another. They were waiting and not sure if they would ever get the call that there was a dog waiting for them. Eventually, they got the call. There was a 5-month old puppy at the shelter who was looking for a new home. The animal had been surrounded by its previous owner who was no longer able to take care of the puppy. He was surrendered to the local shelter. The couple was so excited. They rushed down to meet the puppy.

They were utterly shocked by what they saw. They couldn’t believe the dog they saw was still a puppy. Their eyes locked with a Great Dane. It was love at first sight. It turns out this puppy also happens to be the largest puppy in the entire country! The couple couldn’t believe their luck!

The puppy was already towering at 6 feet tall. he also weighed in at 95 pounds. For comparison, this is more than most baby hippos! The owners were shocked to learn all of this information about a puppy that was going to be theirs. The shelter even told the couple that as the dog grows up, he might even get bigger. His size has the potential to double, which is quite absurd to most; however, this is exactly what happens with Great Dane puppies. The couple was so excited and started to love on him immediately.

The couple is already happy at home with their new family member. They say that the puppy has a big heart to match his enormous size. His heart is every bit as big as he is. He is playful and gentle at the same time. He is a joy to have around the house. The couple also knows that they don’t know what’s going to happen as he continues to grow up. The dog is only going to get bigger, so the couple has taken it upon themselves to try to safeguard some of the fragile items around the house. 

Furthermore, the family also four other dogs they need to take care of in addition to the Great Done. The family also has a beautiful Dogue de Bordeaux, two separate Chinese crested dogs, and a gorgeous French bulldog. The family has said that the dogs still get along well. The dogs were a bit nervous at the size of the new puppy at first; however, they get along great now. The family is so excited to have a full house and there is plenty of love to go around.

The family also posts videos of what life is like with their new gentle giant as well. The walks can be quite entertaining as the family works to manage all of the dogs at once. This is a perfect example of the joy a dog can bring to the lives of people. What a beautiful family of dogs.

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