Soldier and Stray Dog Rescue Each Other

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Stories of humans saving animals, sweet as they are, abound on the Internet.  But accounts of animals saving humans, now that’s more special.  Yet, perhaps best of all are those heart-warming stories of how a human and a pet saved each other.

Like Craig and Fred.

Craig Grossi was a sergeant sent to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.  His unit was under near constant attack.  Craig had just weathered a mortar attack when he saw a white-and-tan stray dog.  Craig described it to the Dodo as having “a big goofy head and little legs”.

Now, it wasn’t unusual to see stray dogs; only they typically traveled in packs and were aggressive.  This one was alone.  It seemed confident, but not aggressive.  There is a rule against marines taking in dogs, but eventually Craig couldn’t resist.  He approached the canine with a piece of beef jerky.

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The dog didn’t react in fear or anger; “[h]e wagged his tail and it blew me away”, Craig said.  This canine obviously had a heart of gold.

After petting the dog a little, Craig walked away.  Then he felt a bump on the back of his leg.

The dog had followed him.

One of Craig’s fellow marine shouted: “Looks like you’ve found a friend!”  But Craig heard instead: “Looks like a Fred!”  And the name stuck.

Over time, the other marines in Craig’s unit came to love Fred the dog, too.

Fred even came on night patrols with them.  Fred was smart and knew that he had to keep quiet, even when other stray dogs barked at him.

But not everyone thought that the presence of a dog was a good thing.  The military had a ban on dogs, and if they were caught, Fred would’ve been put down, and Craig would’ve been imprisoned.

Then Craig’s unit received orders to move to a new location, and the Sergeant wasn’t sure whether to take Fred or not.  He said to the dog: “I need a sign”.

A helicopter arrived to pick the men up.  As it hovered overhead, it sent out gusts of wind, knocking up dust and sending things flying.  As Craig braced himself, “he felt a familiar poke at his heel” (thedodo.com).

Fred.  The dog was scared, but wanted to come.

Dog owners everywhere are cheering.

Anyway, Craig managed smuggle Fred along with him in a duffel bag until he convinced some men from the DHL shipping company to keep Fred for him while he was gone.

Yet after all that, Craig almost didn’t return.  The Sergeant suffered a brain injury from a Taliban rocket.

As he recovered, all he could think about was that dog.  Hoping against hope that Fred was still safe and undiscovered, Craig returned to the shipping facility where he had left him.

He couldn’t find him.

But then, he spotted some men playing soccer, and “Fred is in the middle, running around with guys from all over the world. It was just this [beautiful,] universal moment.”

After overcoming some more obstacles, Craig was finally able to ship Fred back to the States, where he stayed with Craig’s family until Craig’s return.

Fred the dog
Fred flying home (c) Sergio Giacchetti

When Craig got back, it was a beautiful reunion.  Fred went crazy-happy.  “I just lay there and just let him go crazy, and lickin’ my face,” Craig told Today.com.

Yet even now, more troubles loomed on the horizon.  Craig was physically damaged after his brain trauma, and emotionally scarred after losing a close friend in combat.  Craig was diagnosed with PTSD.

Craig had saved Fred.  Now it was up to Fred to save Craig.

And he did.

Fred’s companionship and boundless joy set Craig on the road to recovery.  Craig is now able to open up about his experiences, and he even wrote about them in his book, Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other.  They both now live happily in Portland, Maine.

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Thank you for reading.  Hopefully, no kleenexes were needed along the way, but even if they were, my wish is that you enjoyed it anyway.

Don’t you just love happy endings?

 

Sources

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7 Beautiful Cats Who Know They Are Models

Let me just start by saying it’s a good thing that I don’t own these cats, as I would probably be a slave to their cuteness.  “You want my chicken dinner?  Okay, here you are!”

But let’s not waste time.  You came here to see cats, so let’s begin.

  1. Quimera the Two-faced Cat.  
    Quimera is a lovely calico cat with a striking face, which she is putting to good use gaining Instagram fame.  She lives with her humans in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Although she posts only in Spanish, you don’t need a the caption to appreciate this pretty kitty.

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    Instagram handle: @gataquimera
  2. Mimi the Ragdoll Cat.  
    Ragdoll cats are wonderful creatures, with long, silky fur, and a gentle disposition.  They go limp in your arms when you pick them up — hence, the name.  Ragdolls are intensely loving, like dogs.  Incredibly, a few, including Mimi, play fetch!  All of these attributes got Mimi nominated for a Kitten of the Month award from Floppy Cats.com, an online site for Ragdoll-lovers.  Check it out here: https://www.floppycats.com/mimi-ragdoll-kitten-of-the-month.html.

    Mimi-Ragdoll-cat
    Photo from FloppyCats.com
  3. Scrappy the Black-and-White Cat.  
    When I first saw this cat, I was stunned.  He looks like he’s wearing the Milky Way Galaxy on his coat!  Later, I learned that this was because of a non-fatal skin disease called vitiligo, which causes patches of skin/fur to lose its pigment.  Sadly, however, Scrappy died of old age last year, at the ripe old age of 19.  May he rest in peace.

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    Instagram handle: @seniorscrappy
  4. Autumn the Tortoiseshell Cat.  
    Yes, talking about my own cat may seem like shameless self-promotion, but if I do say so myself, I think torties are beautiful, and that includes Autumn.  She looks and acts queenly.

    DSCN1514
    My Twitter handle: @GayleJorgenson
  5. Smoothie the Tabby Cat.  
    Brace yourself for cuteness!  This green-eyed kitty is just too fluffy.  This is how they get us, you know.  Hypnotize with cuteness, and then BAM!  You’re a slave for life.  Not that we mind it though.
    worlds-most-beautiful-cats-3-57fb53b8a6127__700
  6. Brown, Mysterious Feline.
    Does anyone know who this cat is?  All I can gather from the internet is that this cat was present at the International Cat Show that was just held in Portland from November 18th and 19th.  If I had to guess the breed, I would say it’s some sort of Bengal cross, but I don’t know.  Again, if you do know, please leave a comment.

    bengalbrown
    Source: http://katu.com/news/local/photos-felines-of-the-cfa-cat-fanciers-association-international-show-portland-2017#photo-4
  7. Galaxy-Eyes Cat.  
    Wow.  Just wow.  If this isn’t Photoshopped, then this cat has the most striking eyes in the world.  Blue eyes are rare, mismatched eyes are rarer still, and eyes like these are one-of-a-kind.  Scientists call this “partial heterochromia”; I call it breath-taking.  
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There.  We should probably stop before we get overloaded with cuteness.

Who do you think is the most photogenic cat around?  It could be one of these, or a different online feline, or even your own kitty.  I’d love to have feedback.

In any case, thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next Saturday!

 

Reference

Two Purple Hearts, a Presidential Citation and More for Sergeant Reckless!

HorseAddict

Last year in the lead up to Remembrance/Veterans Day I wrote a post about the War Horse Hero of the Korean War….Sergeant Reckless. This was a mare of great bravery and intelligence.  Here is the text of that previous post.

In  1952 Reckless was bought  by the US Marine Corps to serve as a pack horse for the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti Tank Company, of the 5th Marine Regiment in the Korean War.

The chestnut mare of Mongolian breeding was trained in battlefield skills: how to avoid being trapped in barbed wire, how to lie down when under fire, how to run for the bunker upon hearing “incoming”. She soon became friends with the troops and was allowed free run of the camp and spent nights inside with the troops. She had a remarkable appetite and ate scrambled eggs, bacon, chocolate bars, shredded wheat, peanut butter sandwiches and drank Coca-Cola…

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The Battle of Greasy Grass was Custer’s Last Stand.

HorseAddict

The Lakota and the Plains tribes refer to the Battle of Little Big Horn as the Battle of Greasy Grass and it was the scene of an ignominious defeat for the 7th Cavalry and the Custer Battalion.  But one survivor has gone down in history as the sole survivor of the Battalion; Comanche, the  mount of  Captain Myles Keogh.

Although Comanche’s date of birth and his breeding were uncertain Captain  Keogh of the 7th Cavalry liked the 15 hand horse.  In 1868, when the army was fighting the Comanche tribe in Kansas, the horse was wounded by an arrow but continued to carry Keogh in the battle. He named the horse Comanche as a tribute to his bravery.

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June 25, 1876 was the day of a great defeat for the 7th Cavalry of the US Army and a great victory for the combined forces of the Northern Cheyenne, Lakota, and…

View original post 370 more words

Marley & Me Book Review

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As promised, here are my thoughts on Marley & Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog (the book, not the movie).

And to those of you who are wondering, don’t worry.  This is a spoiler-free review.  So enjoy.

Marley & Me is the story of the real-life dog Marley, a yellow Labrador Retriever with a big heart and a tiny brain.  He is dumb, clumsy, and even has a mischievous streak to him.  He is a food-stealer, a couch-wrecker, and a sallower of anything.  One time he ate a paycheck.  Yes, a paycheck.

Yet Marley does not mean to cause chaos.  He just wants to have fun and to grab attention.  He loves his humans deeply, and the feeling is mutual.

And I must say, after reading this book, I love Marley, too.  This is a great story, but before I start gushing, let me point out the one problem I had with this novel.

Unfortunately, this novel is not kid-friendly.  You would think that a funny, light-hearted book about a puppy growing up would be perfect for children, but it’s not.  The Grogans are a young couple trying to have a baby, and the words are rather specific about the things that happened both before, during, and after Jenny’s pregnancy.  So let me repeat: don’t let your kids read this until they know about the birds and the bees.  Which is a shame, in my opinion.  John Grogan really missed an opportunity to make this book appeal to everyone, not just adults.

However, despite this flaw, Marley & Me is overall a great read.  Here are my reasons for thinking so.

1. It’s hilarious.  I genuinely laughed out loud quite a few times while reading this.  Sometimes it’s Marley’s antics, sometimes it’s Grogan’s oh-so-perfect descriptions of the chaos.  I don’t plan on spoiling it for you, but allow me to give you a taste.  One time when Marley was in obedience school, he took off running, pulling Mrs. Grogan along for the ride.  “My wife looked amazingly like a water-skier being towed behind a powerboat.  Everyone stared.  Some snickered.  I covered my eyes.” (p. 61)

2. It’s heart-warming.  As you might expect from a story about a dog, it’s touching.  Marley is there to comfort Mrs. Grogan when she cries, and perhaps most surprisingly: one time Marley even looses his eternally silly attitude and acts as a guard dog when Mr. Grogan is in danger.  If you do decide to read this book, bring some tissues.

3. It’s got an unusual perspective.  Most books on dogs emphasize how amazing canines are.  And while dogs are amazing, they aren’t saints, and Marley & Me highlights this.  The Grogans love Marley despite his faults, not because he’s free of them.  This novel is about a real dog, not some Old Yeller reincarnation.

 

All in all, this book is now one of my favorites.  

But what do you think?  Have you read the book or watched the movie?  Let me know in the comments below.

And until next week: stay fuzzy, my friends.

Dog Wrecks Soccer Player and Steals the Ball

 

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Remember when Rally Cat ran on field during the Cardinals vs Royals game back in August?  Well, this dog is the spiritual successor to that cat.

Both animals invaded a sports event.  Both did not want to leave the field, and before they eventually did, they trolled a few humans first.

Rally Cat was a mackeral (grey) tabby cat who ran onto the baseball diamond; the Cardinals won the game.  Now he’s a sort of good-luck charm.

rallycat

Although he certainly did not bring good luck to Lucas Hackmann, the grounds crew member who picked him up.  Rally Cat gave Hackmann 3 bites for his trouble.  (Read more here: http://wapo.st/2jELIs7)

A similar event happened on November 9th, when a playful dog ran onto the soccer field during a match in Argentina.  Like with Rally Cat, this yellow canine saw fit to mess with the humans a bit.

First, the dog ran into a player’s legs from behind, causing him to trip and fall.  Whatahowler.com described this canine “player’s”  behavior this way: He “heinously tackled the man with the ball from behind to gain possession. It was a reckless challenge worthy of the red card….”  (In case you didn’t know, the red card is when a player is thrown out of the game.)

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Without missing a beat, the dog rushed up to the ball and claimed it as his own!

After that, I almost expected the unknown canine to head for the goal.  But no, he did not.  He just cheerfully wagged his tail, guarding the ball, as the player he had tripped walked over.  The player picked Fido up and carried him off the field while the crowd clapped.

One would think that this would be the end of the dog’s antics.

Nope.

About 20 seconds after the next kick-off, Fido runs back on field, seemingly eager to join in the fun.  He dashes in front of the goalie, then lays down, perhaps hoping for a belly rub.

Instead, he gets carried off the field, for good this time.

The punishment for this double offense was, appropriately, several dog treats.

 

Thanks for reading.  Come back next week for a spoiler-free book review of Marley & Me, the hilarious yet touching novel about a dog as dumb as a post yet as loyal as Old Yeller.

Until then, enjoy the video!

 

Sources

The Man Who Listens to Horses Spoiler-Free Book Review

montyroberts
Image copyright http://www.srs.at

So I finally caught up with the rest of the world and read The Man Who Listens to Horses.  Yes, I know it was published in 1996, almost 22 years ago, but in my defense, I didn’t know it existed until last year.  Also, I didn’t know what I was missing out on.

As you may have guessed, I loved it.

But one caution before I begin the review: this book is not for children.  It deals with many adult topics like abuse, racism, mental instability, and death, to name a few.  So please: don’t go out and buy this book for your horse-crazy, eight-year-old daughter just because I said I liked it.  While you must, of course, use your own discretion, I would recommend that the reader be at least in their mid-teens.

With that out of the way, let the review continue!

The Man Who Listens to Horses was written by Monty Roberts, a man who understands the language of horses.  It’s not a spoken language; rather, equines mainly communicate through their bodies.  And here’s the surprising part—so can you.  You can talk to horses, once you have learned the language.  Reading this book will have you well on your way to doing just that.  In short, this book is a must-read for horse-lovers everywhere. 

Yet, even if you don’t particularly like horses, this novel will still make a great read.  It’s not some dry biography.  Although it is telling the story of Roberts’ life, it does so through gripping stories.  Sometimes you will laugh, sometimes you will cry; but always, you will be moved.

Horses may not be able to talk, but they don’t need to.  Monty Roberts will speak for them.  And no one, it seems, is more eloquent than him.

 

If you have not yet read this book, then I strongly recommend that you do.  Perhaps you’d like to buy it on Amazon?  https://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Listens-Horses-Real-Life/dp/0345510453

Or maybe you’ve already read this book.  In that case, let me know what you think!  But remember: be polite to other readers, and don’t tell spoilers, please.

Finally, why not give your horse an extra lump of sugar for Monty?

15 of the Best “If I Fits, I Sits” Cat Photos on the Internet

If you’ve seen this catchphrase before, then you know you are in for a hysterical time.

If you’re not familiar with the “if I fits, I sits” meme, then allow me to explain: cats choose the weirdest places to nap in, even if they don’t properly fit; this tagline celebrates the hilarious “parking places” that cats select.

In either case, consider reading until the very end, as these photos only get crazier as we go on…

  1. I just desperately hope that this shoe doesn’t stink.

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2. Shopping list: Milk, eggs, bread, cat…

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3. The Leaning Tower of Pets.

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4. I don’t think this cat understands the concept of “if I fits, I sits”.

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5. That moment when you’re trying to get ready for work, but then your cat sits somewhere adorable, so now you have to call in sick.  You know how it is.

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6. “Yeah, I’m in a trash can.  So what?”

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7. Is this blueberry or banana?

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8. Too cute!

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9. “Bacon now.  Petting later.  Me moving?  Never.”

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10. Peek-a-boo!

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11. But…  Why…?

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12. 3D printers are so realistic!

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13. Because reasons.

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14. So cats hate water, but they love thin, metal troughs that channel water?!  Cat logic.

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15. “Push me, slave!”

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Of all the pictures, which one did you enjoy the most?  Send me a comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next Saturday!

 

Sources

 

Note: If any one of these photos belong to you and you want it removed, please contact me.  If the request is legitimate, I will delete the photo.

10 Weird Facts about Horses

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  1. Horses groom each other by biting. Technically, it’s more like nibbling, but it sure looks like biting, especially from far away.  If you look closely, you will notice that horses scrape each other with their teeth.  Perhaps this rhythmic scraping feels like a massage.
  2. Clacking.  You can see clacking when a younger horse meets an older one, and the youngster wants to show the elder that he means no harm.  Clacking looks a lot like the foal is chewing the air, and it’s a submissive gesture.  The foal is saying: “I’ll let you be the boss if you don’t hurt me.”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stpYCZWXHhA)
  3. Their teeth take up more room than their brains do. This is not to say that horses are dumb, but I had to include this truly fascinating fact.  (Source: http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/features/9-fascinatingly-random-horse-facts-589133)
  4. Galvayne’s groove. This is a line that appears on the teeth of an older horse, at approximately age 10, and is perfectly natural, according to horse expert, Cherry Hill.  Starting at the gum line, it will slowly extend down the tooth as the years pass, until it reaches the end of the enamel.  Interestingly enough, after it is the longest, the Galvayne’s Groove will start to recede, vanishing entirely at age 30 (Hill).
  5. Foaming at the mouth can be okay. When many people see an animal foaming at the mouth, they instantly think of rabies.  Or perhaps you have seen dressage horses on TV drooling, and thought: “That can’t be good, I think the rider is hurting the horse.”  Fortunately, neither is the case for dressage horses.  It is simply a natural result of the bit in the horse’s mouth, which stimulates excess saliva production.
  6. Horses have to learn to like sweets. Once again, I point you to Cherry Hill and her book How to Think Like a Horse.  In it, she writes about how horses do not really care for sweets as a foal.  Yet as they grow older and are fed sweets as an occasional treat, they learn to associate the taste with getting a reward, and so they grow to like it.  It seems that sugar, for equines, is an acquired taste.
  7. They hate being dabbed on the nose. This comes as a surprise to many new horse owners.  The majority of horse books and movies always depict petting a horse on the nose as a sweet thing to do.  Plus, the velvety-soft muzzle is just begging to be stroked, right?  Well, no, not in your equine’s mind.  Most horses prefer a forehead or neck rub to being dabbed on the nose.
  8. Flehmen response. A horse’s sense of smell is stronger than a human’s, but even equines sometimes need to “get a good whiff” so that they can figure out a certain aroma.  “Getting a good whiff” is exactly what the Flehmen response is.  Your horse shows this behavior when he raises his head and curls back his upper lip.  Even though he looks like he’s laughing, he’s actually pinning the smell in his nostrils, behind his lip (Hill).  This enables him to process it better.  Many things can trigger this response, including (but not limited to) the presence of a horse that yours finds attractive.
  9. Arabians have 1 less vertebrae and 1 less set of ribs than other horses. This fact needs little explaining, as anyone who has ever ridden an Arabian knows that they are smaller than most other horses.  Still, as Yoda would say: “Size matters not” – for Arabians are beautiful, friendly, and tough equines.
  10. If a predator chases him but then leaves, the horse will follow the predator.  This bit of info was the most shocking to me.  I thought: Why on earth would a horse go after a predator?!  Wouldn’t the horse just run in the opposite direction, never looking back?!  Yet it is true.  Horse whisperer Monty Roberts wrote in his book The Man Who Listens to Horses about how horses often go into pressure, like leaning into the wind.  If you drive them away, they will want to be with you.  This, coupled with the equine’s natural curiosity, will cause horses to follow their own hunters.

 

And there you have it — 10 strange things that horses do.

Which one surprised you the most?  Does your pony or horse have any weird habits?  Let me know, because I would love to hear from you!

Seeing-Eye Dog Causes Panic at Airport

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I heard another hilarious story on Car Talk about dogs.  I don’t know if the story is true or not, but it is hysterical, either way!

This story was read by Tom from a chain letter sent in by a listener, who apparently desired to remain anonymous.

He, the listener, once rode on a flight that was delayed forty-five minutes.

He took this in stride, but then the passengers were informed that the flight was going to be delayed yet again, another forty-five minutes.

Since it would be so long, the stewardess asked the passengers if they wanted to get off the plane.  Naturally, everyone wanted off.

Soon, the plane was empty except for a blind man and his seeing-eye dog.

The blind man had obviously been on this flight before, because the pilot walked down the aisle and addressed the blind man by name.  Then the pilot said: “We’re delayed again.  Do you want to get off?”

The blind man replied: “No, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs.”

The pilot smiled and agreed to walk the dog.

The pilot took the dog’s leash in one hand, and put on his sunglasses with the other.  Then the pilot walked out into the airport.

Everyone stopped.

And stared.

Picture this: a pilot, with sunglasses, walking a seeing-eye dog. 

The pilot looked like he was blind!

The letter stopped here, so we can only imagine what happened next!

I predict that mass panic ensued.

Click and Clack predicted: “Everyone scrambling, not just to switch flightsThey’re switching AIRLINES!” 

The story ended here, but I continued laughing long enough to attract the attention of bystanders.  With my headphones in, only I could hear it, and I probably looked crazy.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did.

So the moral of the story is: think about your actions, because they may have unintended consequences.

Also:  Always listen to Car Talk.  Always.  (http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510208/car-talk)