TIME animals

This Compilation of Dogs Skyping with Absent Owners Will Make You Howl Too

Dogs have an interesting relationship with technology: They still fear the vacuum cleaner and they still bark at cars, but they’ve managed to master Skype.

Until now. As the above video above, a series of absentee owners check in with their pooches electronically, and every animal seems to have a lot to say.

It’s very tempting to translate all this “dog talk” into inquiries about where the owners have gone, when they’re coming back and what presents they’re bringing back with them. But who are we kidding? We’re not fluent in dog, and all of that howling could just as easily be confusion about how their owners got trapped in the magic picture box.

Meanwhile, here’s to conquering that fear of the vacuum cleaner in 2015.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME health

Why Dogs Are Good for More Than Just Snuggling

petting dog
Sergio Buss—Getty Images/Flickr RF

New research shows that having animals on college campuses might ease students’ stress

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

College students are under intense pressure at least twice a semester—during midterms and finals. And on top of academics, they can experience emotional stress from relationship troubles or as they adjust to being away from home. To help students cope, colleges have employed none other than man’s best friend—Harvard has Cooper the Library Dog, and Yale’s Medical School has a rescue mutt named Finn. Anyone who has spent time with a pup knows they can make you feel warm and fuzzy, and now scientists say that animal therapy might legitimately reduce anxiety and loneliness symptoms.

(MORE: New Poll Shows Parents Are Really Stressed… And Really Happy)

Researchers, led by Dr. Leslie Stewart of Idaho State, tested their hypothesis on a group of 55 undergraduates at a small arts college. They brought Sophie, a German Shepherd and trained therapy dog, to campus for students to pet, hug, feed, brush, draw, and play with. After spending time with Sophie, the researchers found a 60 percent decrease in self-reported anxiety and loneliness symptoms in the students. The findings have been published in the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.

This study piggybacks on previous research suggesting that pets are hugely helpful in relieving stress. Earlier this year, a Harvard School of Public Health survey on The Burden of Stress in America found that 87 percent of adults who regularly spent time with a pet reported it was an effective method of stress relief. A 2012 study at Virginia Commonwealth University looked at how the presence of dogs in a workplace reduced employee stress, and found that dogs not only reduced stress, but also improved job satisfaction and coworker communication.

(MORE: 30 Secrets Your Body Language Gives Away)

For college students, especially, the presence of therapy dogs can help counselors meet growing demand in a creative way.

“College counseling centers aren’t seeing students struggling with academics, which major to pick or how to study,” researcher Dr. Franco Dispenza said in a statement. “They’re coming in with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, pervasive mood disorders and considerable contextual strains that are happening out in the world.”

(MORE: Fix It Yourself and Save)

TIME People

Sarah Palin Defends Her Son: ‘At Least Trig Didn’t Eat the Dog’

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit Sept. 26, 2014 in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

PETA called Palin a "bizarrely callous woman"

A Facebook photograph of Sarah Palin’s son standing on a dog to reach the kitchen sink has led to a heated online exchange between animal rights activists and the politician-turned-reality-TV-star.

Just a day after Palin posted a series of photos of her six-year-old son Trig standing on a dog, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement calling Palin a “bizarrely callous woman.”

“PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs, and judging by the reaction that we’ve seen to Sarah Palin’s Instagram photo, we’re far from alone in that belief,” said Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, according to the Associated Press.

Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog,” Palin fired back in a lengthy Facebook post in reference to President Barack Obama’s admission that he ate dog as a child in Indonesia.

Palin also pointed out that Ellen DeGeneres shared a photo of a young girl using a dog to reach a bathroom sink last year without any reaction from PETA. DeGeneres was the advocacy organization’s 2009 woman of the year.

TIME animals

Here Is an Impossibly Cute French Bulldog Puppy Performing a Series of Tricks

He knows how to shake hands and even ring a bell

Everyone, meet Brody. He’s a 12-week-old French bulldog puppy and aside from being really, really, ridiculously good-looking, he’s also quite skilled when it comes to performing tricks.

His specialties include, turning, sitting, shaking hands, crawling and ringing a bell. Obviously he doesn’t do any of this for the hell of it, though. He’s doing this for the same reason any of us do anything: the promise of receiving snacks. He earns a treat after every trick.

But we still think his best trick is just being really cute.

TIME animals

Newly Discovered Fanged-Frog Gives Birth to Live Tadpoles

A newly discovered frog from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia is the only known frog to give direct birth to tadpoles.
A newly discovered frog from the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia is the only known frog to give direct birth to tadpoles. Jim McGuire—UC Berkeley

As opposed to eggs, like most frogs

Scientists have discovered a rare frog in Indonesia that gives birth to live tadpoles, researchers report in a journal article published this week.

Herpatologist Jim McGuire found proof this summer that the frog, one of a group of roughly 25 species in Indonesia that have two fangs used for fighting, lays not eggs or even live froglets but live tadpoles. It’s the only frog species in the world to do so.

McGuire found the frogs on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. He named to the species Limnonectes larvaepartus.

Two tadpoles, each about 10 millimeters long, shortly after birth. Jim McGuire—UC Berkeley


TIME animals

Monarch Butterflies May Land on 2015 Endangered Species List

Monarch Butterfly Endangered
A Monarch butterfly is in a flower in Los Angeles, Calif. on Oct. 28, 2010. Gabriel Bouys—AFP/Getty Images

Due to habitat destruction from agriculture

Monarch butterflies, once common sights across North America, have disappeared so quickly they might become an endangered species in the next year.

Habitat loss due to agriculture has caused the insect’s population to fall 90% in 20 years, prompting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider protecting monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, Reuters reported Monday.

Farming practices including as widespread pesticide use and herbicides have destroyed milkweed plants, on which the butterflies lay eggs and hatch larvae.

The review of the butterflies’ status came after conservationist groups filed to the Fish and Wildlife Service requesting federal protection for the butterflies. The agency said the conservationists’ claim “presents substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted,” and that the agency will need about one year to complete the review.


TIME animals

See a Python Eat Enough Food for 3 Months at 1 Sitting

The meal could take a week to digest

And you thought you ate too much over the holidays.

Australia’s Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Facebook page posted images of a python with “about the biggest prey item it could eat”: A whole baby wallaby.

Images show the snake wrapping around the wallaby to suffocate the creature before eating it whole. The meal would take almost a week to digest and could sustain the snake for up to three months. Here are the (somewhat graphic) images:

TIME Australia

Australia Hunts for Killer Great White With a Spear in Its Throat

The victim’s friend says he managed to fire a spear at the shark.

Authorities are searching for a shark that killed a 17-year-old on Monday off Cheynes Beach in Western Australia.

Jay Muscat, 17, died after he was bitten in the leg while spearfishing, the second deadly shark attack in Australia in two weeks, the Associated Press reports. A friend who was spearfishing with him says he managed to fire a spear at the shark.

“The shark turned and came for me, I pushed the speargun down its throat and fired the gun!,” he wrote on Facebook, according to the AFP. “This is something no one should ever have to see.”

A spokesman for the state fisheries department, Carlo Vittiglia, told the AP that the shark is believed to be a great white up to 16-feet long. In recent years, there have been an average of two deadly shark attacks a year in Australia.


TIME animals

There Will Be No Live-Possum Drop in Brasstown, N.C., This New Year’s Eve

Possum Drop in Brasstown, North Carolina
A sign honoring the possums of Brasstown is seen during the 20th annual Possum Drop on New Year's Eve at Clay's Corner in Brasstown, North Carolina, Dec. 31, 2013. Erik S. Lesser—EPA

The organizer will drop a dead one, instead

A North Carolina town will drop its tradition of dropping a live possum this New Year’s Eve.

Following an injunction won by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Clay Logan, of Brasstown, N.C., has decided not to use a live animal in his annual Possum Drop, the Charlotte Observer reports. Instead, the possum Logan will lower to the ground in a tinsel-decorated plexiglass cage this year will be roadkill or, perhaps, the main ingredient in a pot of possum stew.

PETA and Logan have been at loggerheads for more than a year over the event, an annual rite in this town of 240 people that includes a full evening of marsupial-themed activities. PETA has accused Logan of subjecting a shy animal to noise and confusion, while Logan has defended the tradition as “good clean family fun, a good old redneck good time” that doesn’t harm the tiny animal, who is released into the wild afterward.

It’s unclear if this battle will be dropped for good come 2015, however. The injunction just requires Logan to get a state permit to use a live possum, and Logan told the Associated Press that he simply didn’t have time to get one this year.

[Charlotte Observer]

TIME animals

This Video of a Dog at Home Without His Owner May Break Your Heart

Warning, pet owners: you're never going to want to leave the house again

Most dog owners assume that when they leave the house, their pooch just lies around napping and dreaming about meats and looking out the window at squirrels — you know, just normal dog things.

But a YouTube user who goes by the name Mike the Intern decided to investigate this by strapping a GoPro to his Goldendoodle to see what he does all day. Unfortunately, the results are really quite upsetting. As soon as Mike leaves, the pooch gets incredibly anxious, staring at the door for a while before moving to the window and then back to the door. He yelps and howls as he paces around the rest of the house.

Beware: if you have a pet, you may never want to leave them alone again. Better start queueing up Seamless.

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