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Feb. 17, 2015: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.
Crews in northern coastal Maine came to the rescue of a dog named Hero in the frigid early morning hours Sunday. The Southwest Harbor, Maine, fire department got a call at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday that a dog was stranded on an ice floe in the harbor. Jeremy Doe of Bar Harbor said he let his 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog outside late Saturday night, which is part of his nightly routine, but Hero didn’t come back as usual. Doe went searching for Hero and found that the dog’s tracks led right to the edge of the water. “I could hear him out there, barking in the ocean, but I couldn’t see him,” Doe said. He called 911, and soon had the help of a rescue team of 12 that included firefighters who are members of the U.S. Coast Guard. They donned cold-water rescue gear and fought the incoming tide and a snowstorm to reach Hero, about 100 yards off shore. Derek Zozzaro grabbed hold of the dog, and they were pulled to safety. “There was no way my guys were stopping until we had him [because] we are all dog people,” said fire chief Sam Chisholm. “He was cold, wet and scared but seemed no worse for wear once he was dried off.” Hero is now safe and sound — and has several new heroes of his own. — Read it and watch it at the Bangor Daily News
After sequencing the genes for Adelie and emperor penguins, researchers were surprised to find the birds were lacking some basic taste genes. In a closer look at their DNA, University of Michigan researchers came to the conclusion that all penguins are missing functional genes for the receptors of sweet, umami and bitter tastes. They believe the reason is that they those taste receptors don’t work well if the individual is eating cold food in a cold environment. While some penguins have moved to warmer climates, because they all trace their routes to Antarctica, their tastes are hard-wired for eating in a cold climate. The study was published in the journal Current Biology. — Read it at Discovery News
When Mary Morgan was 7 years old, she was attacked by a neighbor’s Rottweiler in her Kentucky backyard. The injury to her right arm required surgery and 150 stitches. She’d grown up a dog lover and her family bred Boxers, but the attack left her fearful of dogs. But she conquered her anxiety and became a professional show dog handler at age 18. Now 31, Morgan will head to the ring at the Westminster Dog Show for the first time Tuesday to show Jake, a 2-year-old Giant Schnauzer. "You have to face your fears. You really do," Morgan says. "If it's staring you in the face you have to stare it back even harder and get over it." — Read it at People Pets and follow our live coverage of Westminster
Smoky was going for a walk with his owner along the Santa Monica, California, bluffs Monday afternoon when he saw a squirrel. He leaped into the bushes at the top of the cliff to chase it, and wound up stuck in a crevice halfway down the cliff at the edge of the Pacific Coast Highway. The Santa Monica Fire Department responded, and TV news helicopters captured the moment two firefighters on top of a ladder pulled the 80-pound dog from the crevice — after spending 30 minutes coaxing the scared dog out. Smoky was then safely reunited with his owner on the ground. — Watch it at NBC Los Angeles
Malcolm the tabby cat was reunited with his owner, Susan MacDonald, Saturday after being found 20 miles from his home in England, eight years after he disappeared. The 11-year-old cat was found wandering the streets and identified by a veterinarian who scanned his microchip. MacDonald says his more “rotund” shape reveals “he has obviously been doing very well for himself the last eight years and is certainly well fed." MacDonald said she was sad that Malcolm doesn’t remember her — but he’s still "full of kisses" and a "laid-back, loving cat." — Read it at BBC News
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