Gary Sinise’s “Vets for Valor” Program Provides Medical Care to Canine Heroes

Gary Sinise’s “Vets for Valor” Program Provides Medical Care to Canine Heroes
(Facebook/Gary Sinise Foundation)

Enlisting in the military is a sacrifice so enormous it’s almost unfathomable. Although more work undoubtedly needs to be done to support our veterans, many programs currently exist to provide them with support. One of these all-important programs was founded by actor and director Gary Sinise, who wanted to give thanks to those who risk their lives to keep us safe every single day. The Gary Sinise Foundation was founded in 2010, which means that Sinise has been actively honoring and supporting countless heroes for a decade. The foundation’s website states, “We serve our nation by honoring our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.” Sinise helps provide veterans with meals, specialized housing for disabled veterans, and so much more.

Sinese’s work supporting veterans has been life-changing for countless people. Recently though, Good ol’ Lieutenant Dan realized there was a different breed of hero that needed support, so he turned his attention to a new paws – uh, a new cause. With the help of Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The Sinise Foundation created “Veterinarians for Valor”. The canine-centered organization aims to provide completely free medical care to dogs working with first responders, police K-9s, and military service dogs.

Whether they’re detecting bombs, protecting their handlers, or simply providing some much-needed emotional support, these dogs truly are heroes. They put their lives on the line every single day just like their human counterparts, and Sinese believes that they deserve far more than table scraps.

If you’d like to support these four-legged heroes, donations can be made on the Vets for Valor page.

Carole Baskin Takes Over Joe Exotic’s Zoo, Complete with Buried Body?

Baskin Takes Exotic's Zoo
(Netflix)

And the hits just keep on coming.

Earlier this year, before the world went crazy, Netflix released its Tiger King docuseries, about Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and the bizarre, sketchy, seedy world of big cat enthusiasts. The story captivated the country and birthed countless memes, many of them revolving around the feud between Exotic and Baskin, which had many layers and included a music video in which Exotic accused Baskin of feeding her husband to her tigers. With such a bizarre story, Nicholas Cage was quickly tapped to play Joe Exotic in a TV series.

2020 has been straight-up bonkers, y’all!

The series ended with Joe Exotic in jail for attempting to hire a hitman to murder Baskin, and now Baskin is taking control of the Tiger King’s Oklahoma property, leaving Exotic’s partner Jeff Lowe a month to vacate the premises.

According to Courthouse News, a federal judge gave Baskin ownership of Exotic’s cat compound after ruling that Exotic had fraudulently transferred the properties to his mother to avoid paying $1 million for trademark infringement.

“Big Cat Rescue’s constructive trust and equitable lien in and to the buildings shall survive any physical or title transfer of the building and shall follow any proceeds, except as to a good faith purchased for value,” the 11-page order states.

This is a victory of Baskin, but she’s not exactly free and clear of suspicions about her own activity. A judge recently found that her missing husband, whose death many suspect Baskin is responsible for, had his will forged. This news certainly won’t help Baskin avoid rumors of her participation in her husband’s disappearance.

Things get even weirder when you hear what Exotic’s partner, Jeff Lowe, has to say.

Lowe has a month to vacate the Oklahoma property, but he’s not leaving without stirring up some more shit. He went on TMZ to say Baskin can have the property, and the dead bodies he claims are buried on it.

“Lauren and I tried to donate it to the Indian Nation about a year ago,” Lowe told TMZ. “Because we knew there were the remains of a young American Indian boy buried here. We thought that the Nation should have the first opportunity to protect this land and his grave.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

“No Drama Llama” Joins Peaceful Protest in Portland

There’s a famous quote from Mr. Rogers about times of tragedy and crisis.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Sometimes, they’re not even people.

All over the country, protests are in support of justice for the murder of George Floyd. People of all stripes are coming together to make their voices heard and take a stand against racism and police brutality, and some of them are even bringing their animal friends.

Tuesday night, in Portland, Oregon, local celebrity Caesar, the ‘no drama’ llama, was one of them.

Owned by Larry McCool, from the Mystic Llama Farm, Caesar is well-known in Portland, and his presence at the protest was welcomed, cheered, and even used as an example.

The llama helped make Portland a good example of how to hold a peaceful protest.

Caesar even has his own Twitter account, where he responded to people who caught wind of his presence.

His twitter bio describes Caesar as a “Therapy/Charity #llamactivist protecting & promoting civil rights for all.”

Nice to see him putting his money where his mouth is!

The “Man Reunites With Donkey” Video You Didn’t Know You Needed

Man Reunites with Donkey
(YouTube/Cadena SER)

We’ve seen our fair share of heartwarming reunions in the era of COVID-19. The cast of Fresh Prince came together for an appearance on Will Smith’s Snapchat show. Dan Harmon hosted a Community table read fundraiser. The gang from Back to the Future and Goonies reunited virtually.

But none of 2020’s nostalgia-fueled reunions will tug at your heartstrings quite like this one.

Meet Ismael Fernández. Ismael lives in Malaga, Spain, and has been on quarantine lockdown for the last two months. When restrictions loosened in recent weeks, he had but one order of business: a trip to his sister’s, who’d been caring for his best friend, a donkey named Baldomera.

“Que pasa?” Ismael repeats, his voice quavering. Baldomera reciprocated with some overjoyed brays and whimpers in return. It’s unbearably sweet. The video’s in Spanish, but the affection on display certainly transcends all language barriers.

Watch their precious reunion right here:

Top that, Will and Jazz.

Goalie Cat Is the Sports Hero We Need in Our Lives

Goalie Cat Saves
(Twitter/chrismd10)

Quarantine has been hard for sports fans stuck inside with nothing to watch. (Come on The OCHO!) OK, even if you’re not a sports fan, quarantine sucks, I get it. But the sports world lost the most action-filled quarter of the year, with little relief in sight. NASCAR is back and the UFC is holding fights in empty arenas (and maybe on fight island soon enough), but there’s still nothing concrete for the major pro sports.

It’s possible the MLB players and owners can reach some sort of agreement on a shortened season (not looking great right now), the NBA is exploring finishing the season at DisneyWorld (because why not?), and the NFL is still pretending like everything will be fine, minus the virtual fans. So sports fans need a hero for these times.

Enter Goalie Cat.

Youtuber Chris Dixon put the video online of his cat, who may be the most gifted soccer goalkeeper of all time.

The video shows Dixon repeatedly getting shut out by the most skilled cat I’ve seen in the sport. Each save more difficult than the last, but goalie cat does not falter, he does not fall short. In these sports-starved times, the world has rallied around goalie cat, as the video quickly amassed more than 10 million views.

There has been no official word on if goalie cat will be allowed an Air Bud-esque exemption to play professional soccer, but should it happen, I’m not even sure it would be the craziest thing to happen in 2020.

50 Interesting Facts to Flex When You Want to Impress the Kids

45+ interesting facts
(Getty/RichVintage)

Want to be met with murmurs of approval from your kids? Drop a random factoid on their ass. That’s right, nothing stops a kid, or an adult for that matter, in their tracks quite like a bizarre or interesting fact. The best type of fun facts defy logic and sound borderline insane, which is what makes them so irresistible. For example, did you know flamingos are born grey? Or what about the fact that parts of the Great Wall of China were built with sticky rice? That’s kind of wild to think about even for an adult.

So if you want to keep your kids enthralled for a solid half hour, sit them down and throw these nuggets of golden wisdom their way. To make it easier, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up some of our favorite interesting facts. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new along with them.

 

1. Polar bear fur is actually clear and their skin is black.

2. Baby flamingos are born grey, not pink.

3. A woodpecker’s tongue actually wraps all the way around its brain, protecting it from damage when it’s hammering into a  tree.

4. A shrimp’s heart is located in its head.

5. Elephants suck on their trunks for comfort.

6. Anteaters have no teeth.

7. Nine-banded armadillos always have quadruplets and they’re always identical.

8. Wombat poop is cube-shaped.

9. A flock of flamingos is called a flamboyance.

10. Goats have accents.

11. Dolphins give names to each other.

12. Gorillas can catch human colds.

13. The turkey was once almost named the national bird.

14. A group of owls is called a parliament.

15. There are 32 muscles in a cat’s ear.

16. Snails can regenerate their eyes.

17. Want to know if your pet turtle is a boy or girl? If you listen closely you’ll hear the difference. Female turtles hiss and male turtles grunt.

18. A starfish can turn its stomach inside out.

19. French Poodles are actually from Germany.

20. Henry VIII knighted all four of his “Grooms of Stool” — the people in charge of wiping his butt for him.

21. Jeanette Rankin was elected to congress four years before women were even allowed to vote.

22. Women couldn’t apply for credit at a bank until 1974.

23. Before the invention of modern false teeth, dentures were commonly made from the teeth of dead soldiers.

24. In ancient Egypt, servants were smeared with honey so flies would flock to them, instead of the pharaoh.

25. It was once considered sacrilegious to use a fork.

26. Abe Lincoln was a champion wrestler. He was also a licensed bar tender.

27. Since 1945, all British tanks have been equipped with the necessary items for making tea.

28. Pope Gregory IV once declared war on cats because he believed black cats were used by Satan. His declaration lead to the mass extermination of cats.

29. That lack of cats led to a rat infestation which, in turn, led to the spread of plague.

30. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.

31. The average person living in Sweden eats about 22 pounds of chocolate a year.

32. While the Wright Brothers are famous as a pair, they actually only flew together once. They promised their father they’d always fly separately.

33. Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.

34. Parts of the Great Wall of China were made with sticky rice.

35. 90 percent of the world’s population lives above the equator.

36. Finland has more saunas than cars.

37. 60 percent of the World’s lakes (three million total) are located in Canada.

38. Virginia is the only state that has the same state flower and state tree, the Dogwood.

39. In Egypt, it’s considered incredibly rude to salt food that has been served to you.

40. 99 percent of Libya is desert.

41. The height of the Eiffel Tour can vary up to six inches, depending on the temperature.

42. George Washington never got to live in the White House.

43. California’s state animal, the grizzly bear, doesn’t live in California anymore.

44. Armadillos are almost bulletproof.

45. Hawaii and Arizona don’t practice daylight savings.

46. Chicago is the birthplace of the ferris wheel.

47. Mike the Headless Chicken once lived for 18 months after his head was cut off.

48. All babies are covered head to toe in body hair in utero called lanugo. Don’t worry, it all falls out before birth or shortly after.

49. Crows are so smart they can recognize a human face.

50. Bees will sting bees from other hives trying to steal their nectar. So buzz off.

Weatherman’s Best Friend Interrupts His Forecast From Home

Dog Interrupts Weather Forcast
(Facebook/Fox 13 - Tampa)

Even if you love working from home, the quarantine has presented some challenges, especially if you’re a parent.

With schools canceled until the pandemic settles down, children are at home too, and trying to get your work done when there are kids around is, shall we say, not ideal. Maybe your teenagers are slowing down your wifi, maybe your baby is interrupting your conference calls, or maybe your toddler won’t get off your lap while you’re trying to edit a PowerPoint. Kids and work don’t mix!

Pets and work, however…

Everybody loves dogs, and, like a cute toddler, they tend to get away with a fair amount. Even when you’re annoyed that your cute kid – or your adorable pupper – is video-bombing your Zoom, the other people on the call are probably amused. Viewers of a news broadcast certainly were the other day, when a meteorologist was forced to accommodate his rather large golden retriever in the middle of a weather report.

Paul Dellegatto of WTVT in Orlando was providing an update on the local forecast when his dog, Brody, demanded his attention, eventually climbing onto his lap.

The meteorologist quickly apologized, but his co-anchor wasn’t having it. “This is amazing. I love it. We don’t need to see that forecast map; we’ll just look at Brody.”

Nobody cared. In fact, everyone loved it.

Eventually, Brody grew bored and got distracted by Craig the cameraman – shooting from outside the window, thanks to social distancing. “Oh boy, oh boy,” says Dellegatto. “He’s jumping up looking for Craig outside the window.” As he tried to locate the cameraman, Brody’s head suddenly dominated the frame. “That’s not good,” says Dellegatto.

Yes, it is. It’s very good.

“That’s all right, Brody. We enjoyed every minute of that,” said noon anchor Linda Hurtado.

So did we!

Quarantined Man Creates Tiny Restaurant for the Local Wildlife

Maison De Noix
(Facebook/James Vreeland)

This quarantine has given us all a lot of extra time to fill. It’s a great time to pick up a new skill or get started on that project you’ve been delaying. Maybe you’re learning a language, or how to play guitar. Maybe you decided to finally Marie Kondo your home to clear out the clutter that doesn’t bring you joy, or maybe you’ve gotten back to that novel you were writing.

There’s no wrong to survive this thing, but there are a lot of right ways. As demonstrated by a man in Michigan, who found a hilarious way to pass the time. He created a tiny little restaurant in his backyard, for the local wildlife. And business is a-boomin!

James Vreeland posted images of the delightful little eatery, Maison du Noix (the Nut House), on Instagram. He created tiny tables, a fence, even a sign featuring the day’s menu.

“We’ve been offering an opening course of a seed medley, followed by peanuts on the full shell, house-cut bread sticks, and a dessert of counter-softened apples,” Vreeland told The Dodo.

He shared some photos of his furry neighbors checking the place out.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Another successful lunch rush. #maisondenoux

A post shared by jamesvreeland (@jamesvreeland) on

James took a time-lapse video of the restaurant’s busy day, featuring some hungry squirrels.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#eyebleach #brunchrush #🐿

A post shared by jamesvreeland (@jamesvreeland) on

A blue jay even dropped by, clearly having read some good Yelp reviews.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#eyebleach #brunchrush #🐿

A post shared by jamesvreeland (@jamesvreeland) on

James often live-streams the cafe on Facebook, much to the delight of actual human beings interested in the goings-on at Maison du Noix.

“The response from humans has been pretty great with people stopping all the time to take a photo or watch the frenzy,” Vreeland said. But it’s the animals who are really benefiting from his ingenuity.

Hopefully, they’re leaving at least 20%.

Woman Trains Dog to Deliver Groceries to Elderly Neighbor

Dog Delivers Groceries
(Twitter/CNN/KKTV)

This is a weird time we’re living in, but there is one thing that rings true no matter which community you call home: we need to look out for each other. Communities are shut down, and checking in on your neighbors, especially the elderly and the compromised, are important. And tagging in man’s best friend to help get the job done is an option you should leave on the table.

At least, that’s what one person in Colorado did. A woman wanted to help her elderly neighbor, a woman she has known for years. But she also knew her neighbor had a myriad of health issues and was additionally worried about social distancing. So she taught her dog how to go over, pick up the grocery list, and then deliver the groceries to her.

Now, there are a few steps in-between, it’s not like you can just give a dog a list and a credit card and they come back with all your groceries. The neighbor still did the shopping, she just sent the bag of groceries over with her dog.


Her neighbor was overjoyed just to have regular interaction with the canine.

“What a wonderful thing,” she told a local news station KKTV (presumably from six+ feet away). “It’s been fun, it’s been a real treat. It makes you feel good.”

Sunny the golden retriever is a model example of how we need to take care of each other during this crisis. A truly good boy. And some credit can be given to his owner, too, I suppose.

“Anybody can do something small, that can be so helpful,” she said.

Zookeepers Isolate at Zoo for Three Months to Care for Animals

Zookeepers Isolate
(Facebook/Paradise Park)

Our new world is wrought with uncertainty. Even outside of the public health consequences, there are huge societal shifts in motion and the natural order of things has been turned upside down. And that means people are left trying to pick up the pieces as best they can. For one zoo in the U.K., that involves zookeepers…moving into the zoo.

That’s right, some isolation situations are completely wild. You may be stuck inside a tiny 2-bedroom home, while others get to spend the next few months surrounded by space and exotic animals.

With Paradise Park temporarily closed, three zookeepers, Izzy, Emily, and Sarah-Jane volunteered to move into the zoo to help take care of the animals. They’re planning to be there for three months. Who knows how different their lives will be after three months of living among animals. They may choose to never come back.

The zookeepers decided to leave behind their families and outside lives to make sure there was always someone there to care for the animals. The zoo normally has high attendance during this time, so they’re also trying to raise funds to help pay for the animal’s upkeep.

Isolation looks different for people around the globe, but it’s not usually the first instinct for people to think “I know, I’ll go live at my job for three months!” With dedicated caretakers like that, at least the animals will get the best possible care.

The 10 Best Live Streams of Animals to Liven up Indoor Life

10 Best Live Streams of Animals
(YouTube/Monterey Bay Aquarium)

As we all adjust to social distancing, sadly that means taking a hiatus from trips to the zoo. Animals, though, can be the best distraction for all of us, especially kids. Thankfully, we can still watch pandas, penguins, lions, and even polar bears from our own homes via some pretty cool live streams.

We’ve rounded up the best ones for you, and encourage you to check ’em out with your wee ones.

San Diego Zoo’s Live Cams

Elephants Live Cam
(San Diego Zoo)

The San Diego Zoo website has live cameras for a whole range of animals, including tigers, pandas, elephants, and koalas. There’s even a baboon cam. I watched a little creature scratch his own butt for 5 minutes but that’s kids for you. Maybe watch the baboon cam instead.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s Virtual Classroom

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
(Facebook/ClevelandMetroparksZoo)

This one is particularly cool because not only will it entertain your kids, it’ll educate them too (while you take a well-earned rest!). Every weekday, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is hosting a virtual classroom on Facebook Live. The zoo has promised there will be new animals and adventures every day (which is also how I describe my homeschooling).

Georgia Zoo Virtual Tour

Georgia Aquarium
(Georgia Aquarium)

Want to see beluga whales? Want to see puffins and piranhas? Want a million dollars? I can’t help you with the last one but if you answered yes to the first two questions, this is the website for you.

Cincinnati Zoo’s Daily Live Streams

Cincinnati Zoo Live Stream
(Facebook/Cincinnati Zoo/Lisa Hubbard)

Another new Facebook Live show, which will air every weekday at 3 pm EDT. Each installment will feature a new animal and an accompanying at-home kids’ activity, which you can see on the zoo’s website. I’m hoping for sloths and sleeping.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo: Panda Cam

Panda Cam
(Smithsonian Zoo)

Pandas are not known for their dynamism, but even if they’re just sitting around, they’re still pretty awesome. And that’s all I do these days anyway. There are two giant pandas you can watch in their habitat. If nothing else, it’ill make you feel active in comparison.

Polar Bears Exploring the Canadian Tundra Virtual Tour

Polar Bear Cam
(Discovery Education)

Brought to you by Discovery, this is probably as about as close as we’d want to get to polar bears anyway and watching them explore the frozen tundra in Canada will brighten your day.

And you don’t need to miss out on aquariums either; here are some awesome websites for you.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Cams

 Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Cams
(YouTube/Monterey Bay Aquarium)

If you want to watch otters, sharks and penguins (and who doesn’t?), then check out California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium, which has a number of live cams for your viewing pleasure, including live feedings several times a day.

Vancouver Aquarium’s Jelly Cam

Vancouver Aquarium
(Vancouver Aquarium)

Personally, if a chilled-out blob in the water was my thing, I’d get in the tub. But for jellyfish fans, this cam, set in deep blue water, will give you hours of enjoyment.

And while it’s fantastic to see all kinds of animals, we still have plenty of love left for dogs and cats, and we can even virtually visit them too:

Kitten Rescue Sanctuary’s Kitten Cam

Kitten Sanctuary Cam
(Kitten Rescue Sanctuary)

Here you can watch a live stream of a room at the Kitten Rescue Sanctuary in Los Angeles. While kittens obviously top the billing here, keep your eyes out for a dog named Birdie who makes a few cameo appearances.

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary’s Senior Dog Gathering Room

Senior Dog Sanctuary
(Explore.org)

Imagine a soap opera but with dogs. That’s essentially the premise here, where live cameras show dozens of very old dogs lie around, walk in circles, and vaguely acknowledge each other. Don’t worry if you missed earlier episodes, it’s a pretty straightforward plot. The stream comes from the Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, a very worthwhile senior dog paradise in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.

A Dog Was Voted in as Mayor of a Small Town in Colorado

Parker Sworn in as Mayor
(Facebook/Clear Creek County)

Politics can turn families against each other. The discourse can be divisive and downright corrosive for society. Politics is ruff.

That’s definitely the case in one Colorado town at least, as they decided to go a different route with their mayor. They didn’t go left, they didn’t go right, they went dog. And frankly, it’s a genius move. The town of Georgetown, Colorado decided to make a dog their honorary mayor.

(OK, I can also see the case being made for a pawlitics pun, but that’s just not where we went).

Parker the Snow Dog is the big dog who became mayor of the small town. He was sworn in before a packed community center, according to an official statement. He was even decked out for his big night (no word on whether the glasses are a regular look for Parker).

Now, before you go thinking they coalesced behind some no-name dog, know that Parker is famous. For a dog, at least. He’s the mascot for a ski camp, a therapy dog, and is also featured on Denver Broncos broadcasts.

Oh, and he has more than 20,000 followers on Instagram. Which is almost as impressive as the idea of a dog creating his own Instagram account.

According to his website (just go with it), Parker is committed to bringing hugs, love, and cookies to the people of Georgetown. Honestly, it’s a pretty solid platform.

Hopefully, this can be the start of a new trend, embraced across the political spectrum. It’s time for more mayor dogs. How about some cat congressmen? Maybe a hamster for comptroller or a weird bird for judge.

It’s time for a change. It’s time for some new species in politics.

Dog Show Judge Invites Girl With Autism to “Show” Her Stuffed Puppy

Girl With Autism Shows Stuffed Animal
(Twitter/Goodable/American Kennel Club)

Dog shows can be a pretty formal affair. Especially to the casual viewer, the format can seem a little rigid and almost absurd. But there’s a method to the madness (probably), and while niche programming, it definitely is revered in some circles (probably). Yet, even dog show people know how to capitalize on an opportunity to make a young girl’s day.

In a tweet that went viral on Reddit (not always the best start to a sentence), a dog show judge noticed a young girl with autism watching from the side. He saw the stuffed puppy she was holding onto, attached to a leash.

According to The Blaze, the judge asked if she wanted to show her “dog” as well, and she enthusiastically pranced it around, followed closely by the judge. The smile on her face as she gives him a giant hug afterward is a perfect coda to the short burst of internet goodness.

No word on how the stuffed animal fared compared to the real competitors, but it’s fair to say she won the internet, as the clip racked up more than 3 million views.

And it’s a simple lesson about how far a small bit of kindness can go. And a good reminder to us all to make that extra effort to be that kindness in someone else’s day.