Pet Scoop: Rescued Pit Bull Pup Saves Boy's Life, Elephants Understand Pointing

Oct. 11, 2013: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

TaterTot is being credited with saving 4-year-old Peyton from a dangerous dip in his blood sugar level.

Puppy Alerts Boy’s Mom to Danger

It didn’t take TaterTot long to earn a special place in the hearts of a Minneapolis family. Just days after Christi Smith brought the 10-month-old Pit Bull home as a foster, he detected a life-threatening drop in her son’s blood sugar level. Smith says it was the middle of the night on Oct. 2 when TaterTot, who had been close to being put down when Smith took him in, alerted her that something wasn’t right with her 4-year-old son, Peyton Anderson. The pup tried to wake Peyton up by licking him and jumping on him. "He kept on whining and barking and running between the two of us," Smith said. "I checked on him, and he was barely breathing." Smith rushed the boy to the emergency room, where doctors found that his blood sugar was dangerously low. The dog’s alert likely saved Peyton’s life. Although doctors still aren’t sure what caused the drop, one thing is certain: TaterTot has earned a permanent home with the boy’s family. — Watch it at Minneapolis’ KMSP-TV

Elephants Understand Human Pointing

A new study by researchers from the U.K.’s University of St. Andrews finds that African elephants understand the human gesture of pointing. Although dogs understand this gesture, most wild animals, including chimpanzees, don’t. Researchers put food in one of two identical containers and silently pointed at the one with food in it, then waited to see which one the elephant approached. They found that elephants chose the correct bucket 67 percent of the time. One-year-old babies scored about 72 percent on a similar test. The findings were published in the journal Current Biology. — Read it at The New York Times

Spreading Spider Creeps Out the U.K.

The false widow spider, which is native to Spain’s Canary Islands, has spread widely throughout Great Britain thanks to a warming climate. While the spiders bear a resemblance to the black widow spider, scientists say their bite isn’t quite as scary as the blaring headlines in the nation’s famous tabloids make it out to be. The bite can cause pain and swelling, but scientists equate it to a bee sting, not something that “can kill humans with a single bite,” as the Daily Star put it. "Steatoda may well be the U.K.'s most dangerous spider, but that position is only slightly more odious than being the U.K.'s most dangerous kitten," said Matthew Chatfield on his blog Naturenet. — Read it at Live Science

Kiran, a male calf, was born last week while his big sister stood by.

Rhino Born While Sister Watches

For the first time in a European zoo, an older sibling was present for the birth of a new Indian rhinoceros calf, which is what happens in the wild. Kiran, a 150-pound baby boy, was born to mom Ellora on Oct. 5 at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel while big sister Henna, who’s 3, looked on. Henna was “rather skeptical about the new situation,” zoo staff reported. This is Ellora’s eighth calf. In the past, calves have been separated from their moms at a young age and sent to live at another zoo before the next baby arrives. Now, mom and her two offspring can generally be found together in their stall, and Ellora is showing she’s an “exemplary mother” to little Kiran. The calf has made a few short trips into the outdoor enclosure, but has quickly returned to his stall after being intimidated by Oriental small-clawed otters. — Read it from Zoo Basel

Obie the Obese Dachshund, Before and After

Just over a year ago, Obie, a standard Dachshund, tipped the scales at 77 pounds. The 5-year-old pooch was overfed by his elderly owners until a relative stepped in. He was later adopted by Nora Vanatta, a veterinary technician in Portland, Ore., who made it her mission to help Obie shed more than half of his body weight. By May, about 8 months into his weight loss, Obie had dropped 40 pounds and underwent surgery to remove excess skin. On Tuesday, Vanatta shared amazing pictures of Obie on Facebook, noting that he’s dropped another 10 pounds. "I hope that he can be an inspiration to any person or animal trying to lose weight," Vanatta wrote on Obie’s web site. — See photos at the Huffington Post

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