Tag: Mary Jo DiLonardo

Water, water, everywhere!

It’s beyond imagination as to what it must be like in Houston just now!

By writing that sub-heading I am, of course, revealing the fact that Jeannie and I are living a long way from Texas.

But that doesn’t stop our hearts going out to the poor animals who are in the middle of this disaster. Maybe also that doesn’t stop many from extending a helping hand. Here’s how that might be achieved. In that I am republishing an article that appeared on Mother Nature Network on Tuesday.

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How to help pets after a disaster

After Hurricane Harvey’s rain and flooding, many animals are expected to be without homes.
Mary Jo DiLonardo, August 29, 2017.

Naomi Coto carries Simba as they evacuate from their Houston home after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

After Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Louisiana, residents are rushing to recover yet facing catastrophic rain, flooding and evacuations. While many residents headed for safety with their pets in tow, plenty of animals either escaped or were left behind. Animal rescue and shelter administrators say it’s still too early to estimate how many animals are struggling to find their way home.

Shelters in nearby areas unaffected by the storm took in animals from evacuated facilities. The Humane Society of North Texas, for example, made room for 22 animals from a shelter in Corpus Christi that had to shut down.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a disaster response team on the ground offering search and rescue, sheltering and relocation services for animals displaced by the storm.

The ASPCA reports, “Emergency response agencies are receiving a high number of requests for animal-related rescue, and are conducting responsible assessments to determine where resources can be utilized most effectively. The ASPCA stands ready to assist where our resources can have the most impact in saving lives and helping to reunite pets with their families. Residents who need assistance with recovering a pet from their home or emergency sheltering for their pets are encouraged to contact their local emergency management agency.”

With so much of the storm’s impact in the Houston area, the Houston SPCA has become a central hub for animal-related needs. Because the storm is still pounding, the SPCA is unsure how strong its impact will be on the area pet population, but the group is fielding offers from individuals and rescue groups willing to donate or transport and foster displaced animals. While needs are still being assessed, one way to help is through direct donations.

How to help animals in any emergency

Two pups rest after being rescued in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Austin Pets Alive!)

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, an estimated 15,000 pets were rescued by the New Orleans SPCA, as volunteers scooped cats and dogs off rooftops, out of the water and from flooded streets, reports CNN. However, a whopping 90,000 area pets were never accounted for with some sources saying an estimated 600,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died as a result of the storm.

As animal lovers all over the country saw images of abandoned pets, they wanted to help. People sent money and rescue groups transported unclaimed pets to shelters and new homes. Those are some of the things you can do to help when disaster strikes.

Donate money. Teams from the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States head to areas after disasters to help with transport, rescue and other needs. Donate to them directly, or go online to find shelters directly impacted by the event.

Contact local shelters to see what they need. Some might want local volunteers or item donations, while others may prefer monetary aid. Rescue groups outside the area can contact individual shelters or other local rescue groups to see if there are pets ready to be taken to new homes. Early on, there will likely be temporary shelters set up in hopes that some animals may be claimed by their owners, so rescue groups might not be needed right away.

Be willing to foster. After large disasters, shelters brace for a high volume of new animals. Some shelters might be looking for short-term fosters to care for the animals that were already in their care before the storm hit or to take care of owned pets while the families recover from damage and get back on their feet.
How to protect your pet:

Looking ahead, there are things you can to do be prepared with your pet before disaster strikes, says the ASPCA:

  • Microchip your pets. Collars and tags can get lost, but it’s easier for rescue workers to help pets reunite with their owners if they are chipped and the information is updated.
  • Have a go-bag for your pet. Have it packed with leashes, medical info, food, water and anything else your pet needs and keep it by the door.
  • Download the ASPCA’s free mobile app for your smartphone. It stores your pet’s records and offers tips on what to do if you get separated from your pet.
  • If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you. Some emergency shelters allow pets. In 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which authorized FEMA to rescue, care, shelter and take care of people with pets and service animals. About 44 percent of the people who didn’t evacuate during Katrina stayed because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind, according to a report by the Fritz Institute.

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I’m going to close today’s post by referring to another recent item published by Mother Nature Network. More precisely by first presenting a photograph that was in that MNN item.

Photo taken by Tiele Dockens last Saturday.

Now read the text that accompanied that photograph.

Dog carrying bag of food turns out to be the hero Texas needed
In times like these, even ordinary creatures do extraordinary things.

In troubled times, we all look to heroes to step up and lead us from a dark place to one of hope. And in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which battered and then flooded much of southeast Texas over the weekend, we didn’t have to wait long. Countless everyday Texans have risked their own lives to haul people and pets out of the affected areas.

But Otis may be the unlikeliest hero of all.

After all, he wasn’t exactly leaping into the breach when Tiele Dockens snapped this picture over the weekend. Nor was the golden retriever hauling anyone out of danger.

Instead, Otis was carrying cargo that was precious mostly to him: a big bag of dog food. And he was just trying to get it home.

But there was something about that picture — a humble family pet clinging tightly to his one precious possession, despite the chaos all around.
A new survival icon emerges

Since Dockens posted the image on Facebook — a photo snapped while she was taking stock of the flood-wracked city of Sinton — the post has been shared more than 35,000 times.

“We are a population of about 6,000,” Dockens told the Weather Channel. “We were out today clearing tree limbs from streets. Families are already starting to clean up. Our town is still out of water and power. I was driving around checking on family and friends’ properties that decided to evacuate.”

Then she spotted Otis.

“With his dog food of course,” Dockens added.

It turned out, the man taking care of Otis, who belonged to his grandson, had been looking for the furry refugee who had slipped out of a screened-in back porch on Friday night.

“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.

Amid devastating floods, with countless family pets already missing, the situation could have taken a dark turn. But not long after he was photographed high-tailing it down a city street, Otis found his way back home.

And, along the way, into the hearts of millions.

Sure, images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things can be a powerful cure for despair. And right now, Texas needs all the heroes it can get.

But sometimes, we need a simple reminder from our four-legged friends that they are in this mess, too. They’re trying to get by one way or another. And if that happens to involve looting — err, retrieving — a bag of food, then this is a survivor’s tale worth cheering for.

Please, please if there is anything that you can do to help alleviate what the animals are experiencing please do so.

Thank you!

One can never just look!

That is when it comes to viewing dogs in need of a good home.

The following article, recently published on the Mother Nature Network site, is a great example of not being able to just look at a rescue dog.

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Stella the rescue dog helps a family heal

They went to the shelter ‘just to look’ and came home with the pup.

Mary Jo DiLonardo   August 22, 2017.

Jeneanne Lock and her kids surround their new BFF, Stella. (Photo: Best Friends Animal Society)

When Jeneanne Lock was undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and stage 1 thyroid cancer, she was determined to do everything she could to help herself — and her family — deal with the disease. She regularly saw therapy dogs come through the center during her treatment and their owners often told her of the advantages of four-legged therapy.

“They spoke of all the benefits of having a pet through and after treatment, how it was helpful to the patient, as well as the caregivers and other family members,” Lock says. “That’s why I was considering adopting an animal.”

Plus, it helped that her two kids were begging to get a dog. So they took a trip to the Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City “just to look,” Lock says. “Of course we saw Stella and fell in love with her.”

The year-old black-and-white boxer mix was soon jumping in the car and heading home with them.

“She’s been a wonderful addition to our family,” Lock says. “For me, just the emotional and mental aspect of being a cancer patient, it was almost more challenging emotional and mentally then physically. But my oncologist said most if not all cancer patients experience anxiety or depression or both. I was aware of my own mental health through my cancer battle and wanted to do things that would promote maintaining mental health, so things like going for a walk with Stella really helped improve my mood.”

The sweet, caring pup seems to know how to act with each member of the family, Lock says. Stella is calm and comforting around Lock, yet playful with 9-year-old Ruby and 6-year-old Andres.

When they first brought Stella home, Lock was getting daily radiation after eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and still had several more surgeries to look forward to.

“The toll of all that, the cumulative effects, were I had a lot of fatigue and a lot of soreness in different parts of my body,” she says. “What I was doing medically to recover were things like going to physical therapy but being at home and having Stella to take walks with improved my mood and it also helped me build up energy and strength.”

But she wasn’t the only one that benefited.

“My children had some pretty traumatic experiences watching me,” Lock says. “I know Stella’s helped me, but I also know she’s helped my children.”

Lock is now cancer free, with both of her cancers in remission. She credits her rescue pet with helping her get through the experience.

“Our dog is so full of love and energy, she’s just been a great companion,” she says. “We love having Stella and we look forward to spending more years with her as part of our family.”

Watch their story here:

Uploaded on Jun 30, 2017

Jeneanne and her children adopted Stella from Best Friends Animal Society just as Jeneanne was completing a difficult health journey. What Stella brought to the family has been immeasurable. For more information on Best Friends and its many lifesaving programs, go to best friends.org.

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to about 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.

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Nothing needs to be added by me!

Dog rescues a fawn!

Just had to share this with you!

The following story was published on Mother Nature Network a few days ago. I chose to republish it today because it fits in after one of the photographs I presented yesterday. This one:

Now to the MNN article.

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Golden retriever rescues drowning fawn (because dogs are awesome)

Mary Jo DiLonardo   July 18, 2017

Storm was walking with his owner around the Long Island Sound when he went tearing into the water on a serious mission. The English golden retriever had spotted a tiny baby deer in the water that was drowning, so he dove in after it.

“Storm just plunged into the water and started swimming out to the fawn, grabbed it by the neck, and started swimming to shore,” Storm’s owner Mark Freeley told CBS New York.

Freeley caught the amazing rescue on the video above.

When the two of them finally made it to shore, Storm laid down next to the baby deer.

“And then he started nudging it, and started pulling it to make sure she was gonna be OK, I guess,” Freeley said.

(Because Storm is a retriever, some people might wonder if he was just following his genetic instincts and retrieving.)

Freeley called a rescue group to come check on the fawn, but when they arrived, the little deer darted back into the water.

Frank Floridia of Strong Island Rescue waded into the water, while his partner Erica Kutzing ran about a mile down the beach to help.

Floridia got a rope around the fawn, eventually carrying her to shore — blowing out his knee in the process. But check out the smile on his face when he managed to finally corral the deer:

He handed off the fawn to Kutzing, who carried her the long way back to the rescue van.

“It felt like an eternity,” the group posted on Facebook. “The deer kicked and thrashed but they knew they couldn’t stop. She was already stressed enough. Time was fragile at this point.”

The fawn was taken to an animal rescue center where she’s being treated for a few superficial wounds. When she recovers, she’ll be released back into the wild.

You’re a good dog, Storm.

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What a fabulous story with which to start the week!

 

Getting old? Get a dog!

Yet another wonderful reason to grow old with a dog or two!

Despite the fact that we rarely take our dogs for a walk, in the full meaning of the word, they still receive much exercise. For the straightforward reason that we are fortunate to have sufficient room around the house for the dogs to take themselves for a walk.

So when I first read a recent essay on Mother Nature Network about the benefits of people walking their dogs as they age my first reaction was not to read it too carefully! Thankfully, the article supported the benefits of having dogs as we age whether or not they are taken for walks. Read it for yourself.

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Dogs are the key to staying active as we age

People who walk their dogs tend to get more exercise, especially in winter, study finds.

Mary Jo DiLonardo    July 24, 2017

There’s big, and then there’s really big!

There’s something about big dogs!

I’m not saying that I have a preference for big dogs just that there’s a difference in my mind as to how larger dogs interact with one.

Jean and Brandy at our local yard sale last weekend. (June 29th, 2016)

All of which elegantly leads into an item that was presented on Mother Nature News the other day and is shared with you all today.

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‘He is the biggest, most lovable dog that you will ever meet’

UPS driver adopts pit bull from her route after his owner dies.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

July 14, 2017
Leo always loved visiting Katie Newhouser when her truck rolled into the neighborhood. (Photo: Katie Newhouser/Facebook)

Leo the pit bull didn’t have a lot of friends in his southern California condo complex. Because of Leo’s massive size, neighbors were afraid of the friendly dog and asked his owner to muzzle him when he was outside his home.

But UPS delivery driver Katie Newhouser wasn’t afraid of Leo; the pair had a special bond.

“He would hear my truck come into the condo complex and start barking and scratching at the door to come down to the truck,” Newhouser tells Pup Journal. “He would love to come into the truck and go into the back to look around.”

Newhouser was close to Leo’s owner, Tina, and learned that Tina’s son Cannon had brought him home as a tiny puppy. The dog was too young to eat so Tina had to bottle-feed the little guy; that’s how they became so inseparable.

But after returning to her route after a vacation, Newhouser learned through a Facebook post that Tina had passed away. She immediately contacted Cannon and offered to foster Leo. She already had three other dogs of her own and didn’t intend to keep him but we know how it happens — the dog already had a hold of her heart.

“The whole vibe in the house changed as soon as we brought him home. He is the biggest, most lovable dog that you will ever meet. He was instantly running around the yard with my dogs.”

This is Leo …. he would always start barking as I pulled into the condo complex……He would always jump into my truck when I stopped…. his owner passed away and now he lives with me. Credit: Katie Newhouser

“He loves going for rides, he loves the water, he loves playing with his chew toys, he loves tormenting his two feline sisters, he loves laying in the sun, he has NO concept of personal space. He likes to be on us or right beside us! He is a character,” Newhouser tells People.

Of course when he moved in, there were a few adjustments. Leo was used to eating people food and now eats canine chow. As a compromise, Newhouser adds boiled chicken to all the dogs’ meals, which makes the new dog even more popular with the pack.

Leo is now quite at home with his new canine buddies. (Photo: Katie Newhouser/Facebook)

Although Leo seems to enjoy his new home, he has occasional moments of sadness.

“Leo missed Tina when he first got here,” Newhouser tells Pup Journal. “He would whine at night before he would fall asleep. It was heartbreaking, really. He still does every once in a while. I know he misses her.”

But Leo certainly likes his new life, romping with his new canine pals and hanging out with the sweet delivery driver.

“He has so much personality, you would think that he is human!” says Newhouser. “He is the sweetest, most lovable dog that you will ever meet. ”

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Here’s another wonderful photograph to close off today’s post.

Aren’t our dogs such wonderful, special friends!

A hot Saturday Smile

The forecast for Josephine County is a high of 105° F today (40° C)

So nothing too energetic!

Well not for us humans. But we can watch puppies play. (As seen on Mother Nature Network.)

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9 dog moms playing with their feisty puppies

by Mary Jo DiLonardo

There are few things sweeter than watching puppies snuggle with their mother, nestling into her soft fur as they contently drift off to sleep. But sometimes even mom is tired of being all sunshine and roses and wants to play. And that’s when things get even more adorable.

Although it’s fun, while playing, mothers are also teaching their puppies manners. If they bite too hard, she’ll growl, yelp or walk away. Then they learn how to behave, so everyone can have fun next time.

Here are nine canine moms (and one dad) having fun with their kids. Like Lucky, above, a corgi who is trying to teach her babies the intricacies of a good game of tug.

In a game of tag at the park, this dog mom can’t be beat, no matter how hard her pups try.

And then there are these 10 golden retriever puppies who swarm mom hoping for a meal. When she disappears they decide to have some fun with dad.

This beagles spins and barks as she’s playfully attacked by her feisty offspring.

These Westie puppies get down and wrestle with their mom.

These Jack Russell pups are no match for a mom with these kinds of amazing acrobatic skills.

It’s sleepy time until mom shows up, then everybody jumps up to play. (OK, technically, they get up for lunch.)

Somewhere in all this hair are Maltese puppies playing with their mother. One puppy gets a little sidetracked.

Mom just wants a little roll in the grass, but when she does, it’s a puppy pile-on.

Have a wonderful cool weekend!

My furry friend’s breath!

Dogs see cleanliness from a different angle to most of us.

Can’t resist starting today’s post with that silly joke: “My friend’s breath is so bad, we don’t know if he needs gum or toilet paper.”

But, dear friends, this post is not about how smelly or not we humans are but it is about how our dogs clearly see what they smell like in a different way to you and me.

All brought on by a lovely, and most interesting, article that appeared on Mother Nature Network on May 17th.

Have a read:

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Why do dogs like to roll in smelly things?

Mary Jo DiLonardo May 17, 2017.

Rolling in smelly stuff just feels so good. (Photo: Cindy Haggerty/Shutterstock)

We know dogs have amazing noses. Scientists say their sense of smell is anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours. While humans have a mere 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have somewhere around 300 million, according to Nova.

But that doesn’t mean their idea of what smells “good” matches our sensibilities.

If your canine buddy runs across an overturned garbage can or something dead in the backyard, there’s a good chance he’ll roll around in it until he’s good and stinky too. Does your dog just like the gross smell or is there some other innate reason for what we think is a disgusting habit? Animal behaviorists have several theories.

They’re trying to hide their own smell

Well-known dog expert and psychologist Stanley Coren, author of many books on dog behavior, says the explanation that seems to make the most evolutionary sense is that dogs roll in odoriferous things to disguise their own scent.

“The suggestion is that we are looking at a leftover behavior from when our domestic dogs were still wild and had to hunt for a living,” Coren says. “If an antelope smelled the scent of a wild dog, or jackal or wolf nearby, it would be likely to bolt and run for safety.”

But if a dog’s wild ancestors rolled in the dung of antelope or carrion, prey antelopes would be less suspicious than if the animal smelled like its true self. This would allow those wild canines to get closer to their prey.

Animal behaviorist Patricia B. McConnell is skeptical of this theory.

“First off, most prey animals are highly visual, and use sight and sound to be on the alert for predators. It’s not that they can’t use their noses, but their noses are dependent on wind direction and so sight and sound are often more important,” McConnell writes, noting that’s why hoofed animals have eyes on the sides of their head and ears that swivel around, in order to see and hear animals sneaking up from behind.

“In addition, if a prey animal’s sensory ability is good enough to use scent as a primary sense for predator detection, surely they could still smell the scent of dog through the coating of yuck. Neither does this explain the intense desire of dogs to roll in fox poop.”

They’re trying to share their own smell

Just like a cat will rub up against you to mark you with its smell, some behaviorists theorize that a dog will roll in something stinky to try to cover up the smell with its own scent. Just like dogs will roll around on a new dog bed or toy as if they are trying to claim it as their own, Coren writes, some psychologists have suggested that dogs will roll in grossness or rub against people trying to leave a trace of themselves.

Again, McConnell disagrees, pointing out that dogs have much easier and effective tools if they want to make their mark.

“This idea makes little sense to me, since dogs use urine and feces to scent mark just about everything and anything,” she writes. “Why bother with the milder scent of a shoulder or the ruff around one’s neck when you’ve got urine to use?”

It’s a communication tool

Being smelly is a way to communicate to other dogs what a dog has found. (Photo: Ivica Drusany/Shutterstock)

Dogs might roll around in smelly things because it’s one way to bring news back to the rest of the pack about what they’ve found.

Pat Goodmann, research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana, has extensively studied wolves and scent rolling.

“When a wolf encounters a novel odor, it first sniffs and then rolls in it, getting the scent on its body, especially around the face and neck,” Goodmann says. “Upon its return, the pack greets it and during the greeting investigates the scent thoroughly. At Wolf Park, we’ve observed several instances where one or more pack members has then followed the scent directly back to its origin.”

But it’s not just gross smells that attract this rolling behavior. Goodman placed an array of smells in the wolf enclosures and found that the wolves were just as likely to roll in mint extract or perfume as they were to get up close and personal with fish sandwiches, elk droppings or fly repellent.

Motor system link to the brain

Yet another theory, according to Alexandra Horowitz, author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” who runs the dog cognition lab at Barnard College, is that there’s a link between the nose and the brain. A stinky odor that lights up the olfactory lobe in a dog’s brain also works on the brain’s motor cortex. That communication tells the dog to get some serious contact with the smelly new discovery, Horowitz tells the New York Times.

“There’s no ‘noxious scent’ receptor in the dog’s brain,” she added. “But they do seem particularly interested in rolling in smells that we find somewhere between off-putting and disgusting.”

It makes them feel cool

But maybe the reason dogs roll in gross things is to show off to their canine friends. It could be the same reason some of us wear flashy clothes or smelly perfume. McConnell calls it the “guy-with-a-gold-chain” hypothesis.

“Perhaps dogs roll in stinky stuff because it makes them more attractive to other dogs,” she says. “‘Look at me! I have dead fish in my territory! Am I not cool?!’ Behavioral ecology reminds us that much of animal is related to coping with limited resources — from food to mates to good nesting sites. If a dog can advertise to other dogs that they live in an area with lots of dead things, then to a dog, what could be better?”

Can you stop the rolling?

Get used to giving baths or keep your dog on a leash. (Photo: Shevs/Shutterstock)

Whatever the reason for your dog’s roll in the muck, there’s little chance you can get him to change his habits.

“With thousands of years of practice backing their interest, dogs will continue to go boldly where no man, or woman, would ever choose to go,” says veterinarian Marty Becker. “The only surefire way to stop the stinky sniff-and-roll is to keep your dog on the leash or teach a foolproof ‘come-hither’ when called.”

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At the start of today’s post I implied that we humans had a certain degree of sensitivity as to how we smelt.

Well, to be precise, today’s post started with a silly joke.

So, I better close with another silly joke (but one I had to look up to remind myself of exactly how it went):

As you may know, Mahatma Gandhi, walked barefoot most of the time.

This resulted in an impressive set of calluses on his feet.

He also ate very little, which made him rather frail.

And as a result of his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.

This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Follow that; as they say!

Earth Day 2017

We must have a better relationship with our one and only planet!

There’s a part of me that sadly wonders why we, as in Jean and me, and undoubtedly countless others, bother with recognising ‘Earth Day’!

For in so many ways our Planet is screaming out that we humans are not doing enough to care for it! (Yes, I know that’s an emotional outburst from me!)

It could be argued that we don’t have a friendship with our planet. For if we cared for and loved our home planet as so many of us care for and love our animals what a difference that would make.

My way of introducing this recent essay from Mother Nature Network this Earth Day 2017.

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The power of unusual animal friendships

Studying odd couple animal friendships can help researchers learn what goes into normal human relationships.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

April 20, 2017
A ferret and a cat take a nap together. (Photo: Best dog photo/Shutterstock)

We know that sometimes animals have unlikely friendships. Whether it’s circumstances that throw them together or they just happen to find a friend from another species, animals will occasionally become pals, creating an unconventional alliance.

These unusual relationships cause a certain amount of double-takes — and they’re often incredibly adorable — but there’s also a scientific benefit to studying odd animal friendships.

“There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,” Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, told the New York Times.

An African elephant and a giraffe have become unlikely pals due to the confines of a zoo. (Photo: Glass and Nature/Shutterstock)

Cross-species bonds typically occur in young animals, and they’re also common among captive animals that have no choice but to seek each other out.

“I think the choices animals make in cross-species relationships are the same as they’d make in same-species relationships,” Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, told Slate. “Some dogs don’t like every other dog. Animals are very selective about the other individuals who they let into their lives.”

And when predator and prey become buddies, that requires serious trust from the animal on the prey end, Bekoff points out.

The polar bears at SeaWorld San Diego in happier times. (Photo: samantha celera/flickr)

Animal friendships — whether in their own species or outside — can be very meaningful. Consider the story of Szenja, a 21-year-old polar bear who died at SeaWorld San Diego in mid-April after an unexplained illness including loss of appetite and energy, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Szenja had recently been separated from her long-time companion, Snowflake, who had been sent to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for a breeding visit. The pair had been together for 20 years. The polar bears made headlines in March when more than 55,000 people signed a petition not to separate the “best friends.”

In a statement, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Remain said Szenja died of a broken heart.

Humpty the hippo and her friend Sala the kudu are orphans who became friends at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. (Photo: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Here’s a look at some animal odd couples that have forged lasting bonds.

A llama nuzzles its sheep friend. (Photo: Katriona McCarthy/flickr)
This squirrel and wren are backyard BFFs. (Photo: Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock)
A pigeon hangs out with its rabbit friends. (Photo: Marina2811/Shutterstock)
This kitten and bearded dragon can’t get enough of each other. (Photo: ohheyitsnikki/imgur)

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Dear people, make a promise to improve the relationship we all have with our planet.

Happy Easter Days

Learning about happiness from our animals as new parents!

Spring is most definitely in the air with this recent post published over on the Mother Nature Network site.

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Happy animal parents show off their babies

Animals feel happiness (and maybe even pride) in their new offspring.

Mary Jo DiLonardo April 12, 2017.

These golden retriever parents appear quite pleased with the new arrivals. (Photo: reinederien/Reddit)

When animals have babies, we often ascribe human feelings to what they’re likely going through. They must be proud and happy showing off those sweet, little babies, we figure. After all, look how adorable the wee ones are.

But as proud and as happy as they might look, do animal parents really feel that way?

We checked in with Jonathan Balcombe, the director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science, who has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior, as well as several books including “Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good.”

“Having researched and written two books on animal pleasure, I feel well qualified that say that animals clearly know happiness,” Balcombe says. “Bearing and raising young surely brings many forms of satisfaction and joy for animal parents, as we know it does for us.”

The idea of whether animals experience pride may not be so clear.

“Whether they feel ‘pride’ is an interesting question, and a rather anthropomorphic one in that it is an emotion that we egocentric humans know well, but one that might not apply to non-humans,” Balcombe says. “I don’t think that matters though; what is important to recognize is that other species have lives that matter to them and that is not just because they have an interest in avoiding pain and suffering, but because they also seek pleasures and rewards.”

With that in mind, here’s a photo roundup of some animal parents with their new offspring. (They certainly seem happy!)

‘Yep, I made these.’ (Photo: yasmapaz & ace_heart/flickr)
Sweetie looks awfully happy with her new puppy. (Photo: SmileLikeAKat/imgur)
They’re just so teeny. (Photo: mjconns/Reddit)
Sophia, an orangutan at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, holds her new baby. (Photo: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)
This bulldog dad hangs out with his son. (Photo: STARER_OF_CAMELTOES/imgur)
This Australian shepherd mom has a little guy who looks just like her. (Photo: Techdestro/Reddit)

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Yes, Spring is most certainly Sprung.

I have used this line before and will now show my age by sharing the full ‘poem’.

Spring is Sprung

“Spring has sprung,
The Grass has riz,
I wonder where the birdies is?
The bird is on the wing,
But that’s absurd!
The wing is on the bird!”

I don’t know the origins of this silly verse but suspect it may have been The Goon Show, as described (in part) on WikiPedia:

The Goon Show was a British radio comedy programme, originally produced and broadcast by the BBC Home Service from 1951 to 1960, with occasional repeats on the BBC Light Programme. The first series broadcast from 28 May to 20 September 1951, was titled Crazy People; subsequent series had the title The Goon Show, a title inspired, according to Spike Milligan, by a Popeye character.[1]

The show’s chief creator and main writer was Spike Milligan. The scripts mixed ludicrous plots with surreal humour, puns, catchphrases and an array of bizarre sound effects. Some of the later episodes feature electronic effects devised by the fledgling BBC Radiophonic Workshop, many of which were reused by other shows for decades. Many elements of the show satirised contemporary life in Britain, parodying aspects of show business, commerce, industry, art, politics, diplomacy, the police, the military, education, class structure, literature and film.

We can never have too much laughter and happiness in our lives!

Santa Monica goodness!

Unfettered, unrestrained kindness.

Those of you that followed that terrible act of murder and mayhem on Westminster Bridge and near the Palace of Westminster not so many days ago will have been fully aware of the way that ordinary people, going about their ordinary lives, rushed to the aid of the injured.

Members of the public rush to help a man run down after the vehicle struck.

So just hold that image in your head while I extend the idea of helping others, as described in a recent item on Mother Nature Network.

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Firefighter saves dog with ‘mouth to snout’ resuscitation

Mary Jo DiLonardo

March 24, 2017.
Photo Courtesy of Billy Fernando

When Santa Monica firefighters were called to a burning apartment, they found the lifeless body of a tiny dog overcome by the heat and smoke on the floor of a bedroom. They pulled out the dog, named Nalu, but he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.

For 20 minutes, firefighter Andrew Klein performed CPR including “mouth to snout” resuscitation on the 10-year-old bichon frise/Shih Tzu, while his owner knelt by thinking the little dog had died. Firefighters also gave the dog oxygen through a specially designed mask for pets. And then a small miracle happened: he eventually regained consciousness, according to a Facebook post from the Santa Monica Fire Department.

Photo Courtesy of Billy Fernando

“It was pretty amazing because I’ve been on a number of animal rescues like this that did not come out the same way that Nalu’s story did,” Klein told KTLA. “It was definitely a win for the whole team and the department that we got him back.”

Nalu was taken to the vet where he spent 24 hours in an oxygen chamber and is now doing well.

Photo Courtesy of Billy Fernando

“I stood there in shock, and then I followed them and was in shock,” Nalu’s owner, Crystal Lamirande, said. “I’m a nurse and now I know how family members feel when they watch us do CPR on their family members. It’s awful.”

Photographer Billy Fernando was on the scene and captured photos and videos of the rescue. His video shows firefighters patting Nalu and rubbing his side as they give him oxygen saying, “C’mon bud” and “Atta boy” as he starts to come around.

“This brave firemen (sic) named Andrew Klein from Santa Monica Fire Department went in for the rescue and gave the pet a CPR and took care of him back to life,” he wrote on Facebook and Instagram. “Faith in humanity restored.”

Photo Courtesy of Billy Fernando

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Now I don’t care what can go wrong in this world if there are always people who in an instant can demonstrate unfettered, unrestrained kindness like those wonderful people on that bridge in London and those wonderful people who are part of the Santa Monica Fire Department team.