In Other News

Animals appear to be running amok in the news recently. Having recently shared the story of the dozens of beagles rescued from experimentation in Spain, it was nice to see this morning that some animals are taking the fight to people:

Dogs are man’s best friend. Except, you know, when they’re shooting a gun at you.

And strangely enough, that’s what really happened to a hapless dog owner in Brigham City, Utah. The man in question–a 46-year-old hunting enthusiast who is not named in local news reports on the incident–got a behind-full of birdshot courtesy of his loyal canine companion when he was out duck hunting over the weekend.

KSL.com reports the man and his dog were traveling in a canoe-like boat when the man stepped out into a shallow marsh to set up some decoys…Apparently excited to join his owner in the marsh, the dog jumped up on the boat’s bow and stepped on the gun. The gun was fired, hitting the man in the buttocks with 27 pellets of birdshot.

You’ll be relieved to know that the man was able to contact emergency services on his own and is now recovering nicely in the hospital. While there, he may receive an unusual visitor. Not once but twice now in the course of a few weeks, the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has reported an unusual intruder in its emergency room:

At around 10 pm on Tuesday night, a flying squirrel managed to trap itself inside the emergency room at New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital…this gifted flying rodent repeatedly launched itself from an 8-foot-high wall-mounted lamp, in order to avoid firefighters from the Rahway Fire Department.

“It would climb up on a light and would jump off and glide,” said fire department spokesman Capt. Ted Padavano. “It looked just like a little squirrel, but once it jumped into the air, it had like a glider, or like a bat, skin under its arms, like a little square glider.”

Eventually, a pair of firefighters managed to throw a blanket over the squirrel and safely release it unharmed into a wooded area outside the hospital.

The clever and articulate Captain Padavana has proposed the the squirrels continue to return because they have a nest somewhere in the hospital. I’m not sure why it hasn’t occurred to him that the squirrels may be there seeking emergency medical help. After all, the military is now having to treat service dogs with antidepressants for their canine PTSD. Far from the Onion-style spoof news that this would first appear, one in twenty military service dogs now apparently suffers from the condition:

Since the patient cannot explain what is wrong, veterinarians and handlers must make educated guesses about the traumatizing events. Care can be as simple as taking a dog off patrol and giving it lots of exercise, play time and gentle obedience training.

More serious cases will receive what Dr. Burghardt calls “desensitization counter-conditioning,” which entails exposing the dog at a safe distance to a sight or sound that might trigger a reaction—a gunshot, a loud bang or a vehicle, for instance. If the dog does not react, it is rewarded, and the trigger—”the spider in a glass box,” Dr. Burghardt calls it—is moved progressively closer until the dog is comfortable with it.

The story, in one moment, elicits both an eye-roll and a sigh of despair, as if the human toll of war was not a clear enough sign of its unnaturalness, God had to let us know that it even screws up animal psyches. But if these dogs think they have it bad, the clearly have not met Ge Ximping’s tortured and talented pig. Residing in the Anhui Province of China, this poor creature was born without any back legs. It has adapted to life as a paraplegic, not by scooting pitifully across the ground with its rear end dragging behind, but by teaching itself to walk upright on its front too legs. Unbelievable, you say? Believe it:

More unbelievable still is that this skillful swine is not the most unusual animal making headlines. Not long ago, there was an interesting video floating around of some German rabbits who thought they were thoroughbred horses. Now, it seems, there is a Finnish bunny who thinks it is a chicken. Reuters reports that Otto, the confused pet in question, came as part of a package deal with a brood of hens bought by his owners. Kept in the coop with his adoptive feathered family, Otto was quickly adopted into the group and began to exhibit many chicken-esque characteristics: “When I went to the hen house, I noticed he was sitting on the eggs. Later I watched through the window how he jumped on the beam, failed, tried again and with a lot of practice eventually he stayed up there.” In addition, he prefers to spend his time eating chicken feed (and the occasional raisin bun) and playing leap frog with his chicken friends. Isn’t it wonderful how God has chosen to populate His creation with so diverse and spectacular a set of creatures: rich in their personal complexity, inspiring in their conquest of adversity, comic even in their routine endeavors, and, on occasion (as with a dog who gives a sport hunter a taste of his own medicine), biting in their sense of irony.

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