MONEY deals

6 Black Friday Deals So Crazy You Won’t Believe They’re Real

dogs with "adopt me" signs
Jim McKinley—Alamy

Black Friday deals on TVs, tablets, toys, clothing, and jewelry come as no surprise. But how about Black Friday promotions featuring guns, giveaways of cats and dogs, and the requirement to strip down to your underwear?

Here are a half-dozen downright bizarre Black Friday deals:

Free Cats & Dogs
At least one Humane Society (in Oregon) is waiving the usual $50 adoption fee on cats now through December 1. In addition to free cat adoptions, the shelter is knocking $50 off normal dog adoption fees, which generally run $100 to $350. Other humane societies around the country are hosting Black Friday pet deals such as free dogs if they’re black and at least six months old (Kansas) and a promotion of $5 to adopt a cat 5+ years old and 50% off the adoption of rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small animals (in Massachusetts).

Buy a Car, Get It Free If It Snows on Christmas
A car dealership in Chicago has a sales pitch that’s tempting for those who like to gamble—and that could wind up being extremely costly for its promoters. The deal is that all customers who buy a new Buick or GMC automobile at the dealership on Friday or Saturday will get full refunds on their purchases if it snows six or more inches on Christmas. The dealership is calling the promo its “White Friday” sale.

Guns & Ammo
It may not be what your family expects to find under the tree or stuffed in stockings on Christmas morning, but guns have come to be hot sellers on Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season. Last year, the number of FBI background checks conducted for each firearm purchase on Black Friday was nearly triple that of a typical sales day. Why are guns hot sellers during this period? Largely for the same reasons that so many other items are hot sellers right about now—because stores have big promotions to attract customers. Walmart is discounting all firearms by 20% for its Black Friday sale, while gun enthusiast websites are filled with firearm and accessory deals—weapons, targets, ammunition, and more—from a wide range of retailers around the country.

Wait Outside in Your Underwear, Get Free Clothes
Among the many early Black Friday sales that have popped up this week, probably the strangest took place on Tuesday at Desigual in San Francisco: As the Consumerist pointed out, the first 100 shoppers waiting outside the store wearing nothing but their underwear received free tops and bottoms from the Barcelona-based fashion retailer.

Buy a Car, Get a TV
The first ten customers to buy new cars at a Toyota dealership in Missouri received free flat-screen TVs thrown into the deal on Black Friday. What’s more, the first ten people in the door at the dealership on Friday were handed $25 gift cards for ham—no car purchase required.

Loans and Online Bank Accounts
Everyone else feels comfortable glomming onto Black Friday for sales and marketing purposes, so why not financial institutions as well? The Utah Community Credit Union, for instance, is advertising “BLACK FRIDAY DOORBUSTERS!” in the form of auto, home equity, and personal loans with supposedly great terms. Capital One 360, meanwhile, is hosting a Black Friday Sale, with bonuses like $100 for new savings and checking accounts and, depending on how much you invest, $150 to $1,250 bonuses for those opening a new online trading account or IRA.

Bear in the mind that even if these offers are truly good deals, taking out a loan or opening a new bank account is certainly not something you decide impulsively because of some flashy promotion. For that matter, no one should go adopting a pet or buying a gun on an impulse either.

TIME celebrities

Chris Hemsworth and His Wife Just Adopted a Puppy

Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky attend the 3rd annual Sean Penn and Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting presented by Giorgio Armani at Montage Beverly Hills on Jan. 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills.
Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky attend the 3rd annual Sean Penn and Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting presented by Giorgio Armani at Montage Beverly Hills on Jan. 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills. Kevin Mazur—Getty Images

The couple are parents to daughter India Rose, 2½, and twin boys Tristan and Sasha, 8 months

As if Chris Hemsworth could get any sexier.

PEOPLE’s reigning Sexiest Man Alive is now the dad to a puppy, supporting the, ahem, scientific theory that there is nothing more attractive than a hot guy and an adorable dog.

Wife Elsa Pataky announced the news on Instagram Monday, writing, “Our new family member.”

In addition to attempting to upstage Hemsworth’s cuteness, the canine addition can also count on plenty of playtime: The couple are parents to daughter India Rose, 2½, and twin boys Tristan and Sasha, 8 months.

When PEOPLE crowned Hemsworth, 31, Sexiest Man Alive, he said, “I think you’ve bought me a couple of weeks of bragging rights around the house. I can just say to [Pataky], ‘Now remember, this is what the people think, so I don’t need to do the dishes anymore, I don’t need to change nappies. I’m above that. I’ve made it now.’ “

However, we’d like to clarify: That title does not exempt him from taking the dog out.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME ebola

Veterinarians Group Issues New Guidelines for Pets and Ebola

Beagle on Hind Legs with Paws on Kennel Bars
Cavan Images/Getty Images

Though the spread of the deadly virus hasn't been linked to animals

The American Veterinary Medical Association is urging pet owners to take an abundance of caution when dealing with Ebola, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is saying that animals have not contributed to the outbreak of the virus in West Africa.

Pets should be quarantined, according to vet group’s new guidelines issued this week, if they have been in close contact with someone infected with Ebola. If the pets test positive for the lethal virus, they should be put down.

While quarantined, the pets should be confined to a crate or kennel inside a secure facility and stripped of all clothing and collars that could have possibly been contaminated.

The recommendations reiterate that there have been no reports of dogs or cats stricken with the virus, not even in parts of Africa where the disease is rampant. In the U.S., the likelihood of pets getting the disease is very low, and the last known person in the U.S. to have been diagnosed with the virus was released from the hospital with an all clear on Tuesday.

The CDC and leading veterinarians began researching how to approach pets of people infected with Ebola after the dog of a nurse in Spain was put down when its owner contracted the virus.

TIME Education

Is Your Dog Smarter Than a Five-Year-Old?

dog
Stan Fellerman—Getty Images

New research shows many people consider man's best friend to be more intelligent than human children

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

The closer we are to our dogs, the more intelligent we think they are, according to a recent paper published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. But that perception isn’t exactly reality.

(MORE: 5 Types of Friends Everyone Should Have)

The paper, written by researchers at Monash University surveyed more than 550 dog owners. In general, they believed their dogs were socially intelligent and capable of learning social and general cognitive skills. The research found one-quarter of dog owners believe their dog to be smarter than most other people. Nearly half of them believe their dog’s mental ability is equal to that of three-to-five-year-old human children, and of those polled, 73 percent consider themselves knowledgeable about dogs.

(MORE: Healthy After-School Snacks for Kids)

It turns out, those beliefs aren’t quite accurate. While some dogs may rival two-year-olds in terms of intelligence, that’s about as high as researchers have seen learning levels go. A typical two-year-old toddler knows 300 words, but Chaser, “The Smartest Dog in the World,” who appeared on 60 Minutes in early October, knows the names of 800 cloth toys and more than 200 plastic toys and balls. Impressive, but not anywhere near the intelligence of a four-year-old, who typically has a 1,000-word vocabulary and can easily put together sentences of four or five words.

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

But just because dogs aren’t as intelligent as humans doesn’t mean that they don’t offer their own unique benefits. Research suggests, for instance, that dog owners may get more exercise than those without canine companions. And walking dogs may lead to more conversation, and therefore more friends in addition to a workout, according to the NIH. Animals are also used for therapy in an effort to relieve pain and stress. And those furry friends can worm their way into our hearts… and cardiovascular health. One study, funded by the NIH, found that people who suffered a heart attack lived longer on average if they owned a dog.

(MORE: The Best (and Worst) Advice From Bosses)

(MORE: How Yoga Helps to Keep Your Brain Healthy)

TIME animals

Charlie the Beagle Will Trade You His Toy for Your Breakfast

It's only fair.

Charlie gets it.

He may be a dog, but he understands that in this life, nothing is free and good things — like a human-sized breakfast — only come to those who work for it. After all, everyone, even pets, need to contribute. (Hence with Charlie’s whole helping change the baby’s diaper thing.)

In the latest video from the lovable canine YouTube sensation, Charlie quickly realizes that if he wants his human’s sausage and egg breakfast, he’s going to have to do some serious bartering. Luckily, he has a plan and quickly suggests a trade.

This isn’t Charlie’s first time at the swap meet, after all. A few months back, the usually well-mannered pup tried to entice his human sister into a generous, if guilt-ridden, trade when he swiped the toy she was playing with at the time.

TIME Companies

Purina Will Let You Build a Personalized Diet for Your Dog

Purina dog food is on display at an Associated Supermarket i
Purina dog food is on display at an Associated Supermarket in New York on Aug. 16, 2005 Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nestle will let owners design a "personalised blend optimized to [their] dog’s individual nutritional needs"

Nestlé Purina launched a personalized dog food product that will allow pet owners to order food “tailored to their pet’s unique needs and preferences,” the company announced Tuesday.

“By inviting dog owners to tell us the things only they can know about their dogs, we are able to provide a personalized blend optimized to that dog’s individual nutritional needs,” said Brian Lester, director of marketing for Just Right by Purina.

Product users log on to Nestle’s website to enter information such as breed, size and physicality as well as the dog’s eating preferences. The site then churns out a food recommendation and ships it to the owner.

Are you more of a cat person? Nestle is exploring options to offer a similar product for cats.

 

TIME animals

Pet Costumes: Non-Toxic Paint Turned This Pup Into a Cute Skeleton

Check out the canine's Halloween costume

lost-at-e-minor_logo

This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

Well isn’t this the cutest skeleton we’ve ever seen! Bellevue, Washington-based artist Bryn Anderson found a cool and easy way to dress up her 13-month-old German Shepherd, named Nixe, for Halloween — or should we say, HOWLoween?

By using white non-toxic water-based face paint, she was able to transform the SAR (search and rescue) training pup into nothing but bones and eternal darkness. You can see more of Nixe’s photos here.

(Via Laughing Squid)

TIME society

Inside the Weird World of Sexy Halloween Costumes for Dogs

And you thought sexy human costumes were strange

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Ye olde “hot” dog costume Getty images

The era of a “hot” dog costume consisting of a dachshund wrapped up in a bun is over. Welcome to an age in which people dress up their pets in sexy Halloween costumes.

For Pumpkin, a Labradoodle, his risqué 2013 ensemble came complete with fake human cleavage.

Pumpkin the dog flaunting his sexy Snooki Halloween costume Michelle Husserl

A Snooki costume might seem blasé for a person, but the tightly fitted leopard print top secured Pumpkin the first place prize for “most creative costume” at a local London pub, according to owner Michelle Husserl. “I didn’t think about it being sexy, more funny if anything, but I guess sexy costumes [for dogs] are the way forward!” she says. “He’s used to being dressed up since he was a puppy, but the cleavage he kept clawing at. He was very confused about it.”

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $350 million on their pets’ Halloween costumes in 2014, which is up from $220 million in 2010. Unfortunately the NRF doesn’t calculate how many of those pet costumes show a little extra leg.

“I don’ think we have any plans to go that specific,” says NRF senior director Kathy Grannis. “I’ll be honest, I had no idea that that existed in this world. I was shocked.”

But, as Grannis notes, there is a person-to-pet consumer trickle-down effect, providing pups with blueberry facials and other human-only luxuries. So, considering the sexy Halloween costume complex has mostly jumped the shark — there are actual sexy shark, crustacean and even whale costumes — maybe it was only a matter of time until dogs got their sexy Halloween costumes, too.

“[Our sexy] pet costumes are just an extension of what the consumer was already doing on social networks, we saw that gap, and we jumped on it,” says Alicia Brockwell of California Costume, the manufacturer of Pumpkin the Labradoodle’s Snooki outfit.

“The costume is actually called ‘The Lady is a Tramp,’ and people really love putting that on a pitbull,” she says. “One thing about the sexy costumes, is that people love putting them on the most rugged, tough dogs.”

Dog Costumes
“Pop Queen” California Costumes

California Costume’s Pup-A-Razzi line has other sexy offerings, including a gold-cone bra called the”Pop Queen” (just think Madonna) and a “Silver Screen Siren” (Marilyn Monroe).

“It’s no secret that sex sells and Hollywood is the capital of plastic surgery so it made sense to include those features where we could,” vice president of marketing and design Christopher Guzman says. “Why not give your pet what he or she has secretly been craving, at least temporarily, fake boobies!”

Costumes that feature fake cleavage come in four different sizes, ranging from extra small to large.

“The hardest part about the breastplate is maintaining the integrity of it when shipping,” Brockewell says. “So we have little tutorials and give product training where if you take a warm hairdryer, it can actually warm it up and get it to the right roundness and buoyancy as needed. Because it is a soft material so it can sit comfortably on the dog.”

Brockwell believes that the company manages to be ridiculous without crossing the line to insulting: “No one looks at it and says ‘oh I can’t believe you’re degrading this dog’s honor!'”

Grannis, of the National Retail Federation, agrees.

“Halloween is a holiday based on discretionary fun,” she says. “If there are a lot of creative people out there who think that Fido and Fluffy would look great as a sexy maid, you know, God bless ‘em for it.”

And they do:

Even Walmart stocks French Maid costumes for dogs.

Garrett Rosso, founder of New York City’s 24-year-old Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, has seen the full evolution of the sexy dog costume. The 1990’s were a simpler time. “It was all about the three M’s: Marilyn, Marlene and Madonna — oh and maybe a Chip ‘n Dale,” he says. In the last decade, however, people have upped their game.

“We had a bull dog dressed up as Katy Perry with boobs and a wig — it was a little startling,” says Rosso, who was a TIME design director before opening dog obedience training facilities. “Last year, I saw a Great Dane as Lady Gaga doing the twerking dance and a whole convention of 50 Shades of Grey.”

Matching owner/pet companion costumes are a big hit. He has seen dressed dogs in thousands of dollars worth of leather clothing, made to match their owner.

“Dogs have kind of become our giant companions, our best friends, our entrée into a healthier lifestyle,” Rosso says. “And I think Halloween is just a day when you can show off your best friend.”

And who doesn’t love a best friend who knows how to show some leg? All four of them.

Read next: 2014 Could Be the Year of the ‘Sexy Lobster’ Halloween Costume

TIME Pets

Yes, Dogs Can Get Jealous Too

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Dog Zwergpinscher Simone Ciaralli—Getty Images/Flickr RF

A new study offers scientific backing to a long-reported anecdotal phenomenon. But canine envy is a little different from the human kind.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

We’ve long treated our dogs like humans, dressing them in sweaters, letting them sleep in our beds—even painting their nails. So it makes sense that we’re eager to attribute their canine behavior to human emotions, crediting a wagging tail to joy or lowered eyes to shame. Yet while research has shown dogs feel love and affection, more complicated emotions like embarrassment and guiltdon’t seem to be in their repertoire.

(MORE: 8 Scientifically-Backed Ways to Feel Happier Right Now)

But here’s one that might be: Scientists at UC San Diego have found evidence suggesting that dogs could actually be capable of jealousy.

Although Charles Darwin wrote about dogs’ jealousy in 1871 and dog owners have been quick to offer anecdotal evidence ever since, there’s never been scientific proof of the phenomenon.

This experiment involved 36 dogs and their owners. The owners petted an animated toy dog while their real dog was in the room. They also petted and played with a jack-o-lantern, and sat reading a noise-making children’s book. Observers wrote down and cataloged the dogs’ reactions to each of these three situations, which ranged from biting, barking, and pushing at either the toy or the owner.

(MORE: 40 Classic Children’s Books)

The dogs were more likely to show signs of aggression, attention-seeking behavior, and a heightened interest in their owners when the fake dog was the object of affection. Most of the dogs clearly thought the stuffed dog was real: 86 percent inspected and sniffed its butt at some point during the experiment.

“We can’t really speak to the dogs’ subjective experiences, of course,” study author and psychology professor Christine Harris said in a release. “But it looks as though they were motivated to protect an important social relationship.”

So is this behavior really the green-eyed monster as we know it? Not quite. Researchers called the envious emotion that dogs experience a “primordial” type of jealousy rather than the complicated thoughts that torment adult humans.

Infants show this instinctive kind of jealousy, too, when their mothers shower affection on another baby. The scientists behind the study say this could be evidence that jealousy is an innate emotion, like fear or anger, that humans share in common with other social creatures.

So if it seems like Fido is giving you the cold paw after you’ve shown some love to another dog, it might not be your imagination.

(MORE: How Not to Apologize)

TIME Law

Pet Owners Look to Muzzle Police Who Shoot Dogs

Brittany Preston

Bereaved owners argue that when police shoot dogs it a violates their Fourth Amendment rights

Correction appended, Sept. 26

Lexie, a Labrador mix, was barking in fear when the police arrived at her owner’s suburban Detroit house early in the morning last November. The officers, responding to a call about a dog roaming the area, arrived with dog-catching gear. Yet they didn’t help the one-year-old dog, who had been left outside the house, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court: Instead, they pulled out their guns and shot Lexie eight times.

“The only thing I’m gonna do is shoot it anyway,” the lawsuit quotes an officer saying. “I do not like dogs.”

Such a response, animal advocates say, is not uncommon among law enforcement officers in America who are often ill-equipped to deal with animals in the line of duty. And now bereaved owners like Brittany Preston, Lexie’s owner, are suing cities and police departments, expressing outrage at what they see as an abuse of power by police. Animal activists, meanwhile, are turning to state legislatures to combat the problem, with demands for better police training in dealing with pets.

There are no official tallies of dog killings by police, but media reports suggest there are, at minimum, dozens every year, and possibly many more. When it comes to Preston’s dog, officials from the city of St. Clair Shores and the dog owner agree on little. City police say the dog attacked, prompting officers to open fire in self-defense. But the lawsuit filed by Preston cites police audio recordings to argue that the November 2013 shooting was premeditated, prompted by officers eager to kill a dog. Preston is suing the city for violating her Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

“We want whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Christopher Olson, Preston’s lawyer. “Before this case I wasn’t a dog shooting lawyer, but I am now.”

St. Clair Shores defended the officers’ actions.

“The animal was only put down after a decision was made that it was in the best interest of the residents,” said city attorney Robert Ihrie, who is defending the city in the lawsuit. “Sometimes police officers are in a position where they need to make very quick decisions for the protection of themselves and others.”

The Fourth Amendment argument gained traction in 2005, when the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels sued the city and the police department because officers had killed dogs during a gang raid in 1998. A federal appeals judge found that “the Fourth Amendment forbids the killing of a person’s dog… when that destruction is unnecessary,” and the Hells Angels ultimately won $1.8 million in damages. In addition to the St. Clair lawsuit, other lawsuits stemming from police shootings of dogs are being planned or filed in Idaho, California, and Nevada.

At the same time, animal-rights activists are lobbying police departments to implement pet training for all officers. Several states including Illinois and Colorado have enacted measures to reduce dog shootings, and others states are considering legislation. In 2011, the Department of Justice published a report on dog-related police incidents, which included advice on how to handle dogs without killing them.

“It’s much more likely that a cop is going to encounter a dog than a terrorist, yet there’s no training,” said Ledy Van Kavage, an attorney for the advocacy group Best Friends Animal Society. “If you have a fear or hatred of dogs, then you shouldn’t be a police officer, just like if you have a hatred of different social groups.”

Brian Kilcommons, a professional dog-trainer who has trained more than 40,000 dogs and published books on the subject, said some police officers accidentally antagonize dogs right from the start, without even trying. “Police officers go into a situation with full testosterone body language, trying to control the situation,” he said. “That’s exactly what will set a dog off.” Kilcommons is developing an app that could help police officers evaluate the best way to handle a dog, including tips on reading body language and non-lethal strategies for containing them. “A bag of treats goes a long way,” he said.

But Jim Crosby, a retired Lieutenant with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida who now works in dog training, said there are sometimes cases that require police force.

If you’re executing a high-risk, hard-going entry with an armed suspect, the officers don’t have time to play nice and throw cookies at the dog,” said Crosby, who was commenting on police handling of dogs in general and not any specific case. But he emphasized that such situations are few and far between: “Police absolutely have the right to protect themselves against a reasonable and viable threat—but the presence of a dog is not necessarily a reasonable or viable threat.”

Ronald Janota, a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Illinois State Police who now serves as an expert witness on use of force, acknowledged that officers are often at “heightened awareness” when confronting dogs. “If you’re the first or second through the door, you don’t have time to put a collar on the dog if the dog is literally lunging at you,” he said. “If you’re entering the house legally, you have the right to protect yourself.”

Regardless of the circumstances, a dog’s death at the hands of police can be devastating to owners.

“People are getting married later, if at all, people are having children later, if at all, and pets are filling an emotional niche,” Kilcommons said. “Before, if you had a dog and it got killed, you got another one. Now dogs are in our homes and in our hearts. They’re not replaceable. So when they’re injured or killed, people are retaliating.”

In St. Clair Shores, where Lexie died, the city is fighting the lawsuit but the police department now requires its officers to undergo animal control training.

Van Kavage said that kind of training is crucial, even if just to instill a sense of trust in the police.

“If a cop shoots your pet, do you think you’re ever going to trust a cop again?” she said. “To control a dog, 99% of the time you don’t need a gun. You just need to yell ‘sit!’ ‘stay!’”

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the person who said, “To control a dog, 99% of the time you don’t need a gun. You just need to yell ‘sit!’ ‘stay!’” It was Ledy Van Kavage.

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