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April 06, 2015 12:00 PM

THE PAINTING POOCH

Newman shows off his artwork in his Euclid, Minn., studio. (Turn the page to read Newman’s story.)

This Dog Can Paint!

NEWMAN | EUCLID, MINN.

He’s been called the Canine Picasso. But owner Kaydi Grunhovd, 35, never planned on teaching her 19-month-old mutt to paint. “If he’s not busy, he can be naughty,” she says. “So I taught him little tricks like picking things up with his mouth.” And once he got his teeth on a paint brush, Newman’s talent became clear. (His Etsy shop has already sold out; prices ranged from $25 to $150, with proceeds going to a local shelter.) Grunhovd limits him to weekly studio sessions so that he won’t “burn out.” But, she says, “he has this drive to learn, which is fantastic.”

This Golden Retriever Saved a Boy’s Life

ANGEL | LUNENBURG, MASS.

When Sarah Specht came back from a family vacation last fall, she stepped out of the room, leaving her son Hunter, 5, with their new golden retriever Angel. “As I went up the stairs Hunter started having a seizure, and Angel kept barking,” says Specht. Luckily Angel is more than just a lovable pup. She has been trained by the nonprofit 4 Paws for Ability to alert others when Hunter, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, has a medical emergency. The 1-year-old canine accompanies Hunter to school, cuddles with him at bedtime – so she can alert Specht to any nighttime seizures – and even calms him down during his regular hospital visits. Because of his condition, “Hunter has difficulty meeting people,” says Specht, 36, a college student. “Now he has a true best friend.”

This Mini Horse Is a Sheriff’s Deputy!

Valor – who is house-trained! – joined the police force in January.

VALOR | MALIBU

As a new recruit for the Malibu-Lost Hills sheriff’s department, 8-month-old Deputy Valor provides comfort for scared kids, like 11-year-old Carlos Degollado (above), who recently traveled to the U.S. from his native Mexico to undergo ear surgery. “This was his first time interacting with any horse, let alone a tiny one he could cuddle,” says Lt. Jennifer Seetoo, who helps spread the word about Valor (who came from the nonprofit Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses) and her new role on the force. As for Carlos, Valor’s appeal is obvious: “I like her because she is small and has soft hair.”

This Two-Legged Dog Gets Around on Wheels

BUBBLES | KEMPNER, TEXAS

The puppy was born with only two legs, but that has never slowed her down. “Initially puppies all scoot around like little worms, so she was getting along just fine,” says owner Trevor Byers, 28, of the now 8-month-old chiweenie (a cross between a Chihuahua and a Dachshund). But to give Bubbles a bit more freedom outside, Byers, a mechanic, used a 3-D printer to develop a custom cart with wheels and straps to support her torso. “She can go up and down our little hills in the backyard,” says Byers. And when the harness comes off inside her home, Bubbles uses her hind legs to hop around on soft surfaces. “She has no problem keeping up, with or without the cart,” Byers says. “She’s always a happy dog no matter what.”

Miraculous

Recoveries

LOOK AT THEM NOW! AFTER SURVIVING HORRIFIC NEGLECT AND ABUSE, THESE RESILIENT RESCUE DOGS WERE LOVINGLY NURSED BACK TO HEALTH

NOW

THEN

Angel Palmdale, Calif.

The German shepherd mix was found emaciated and dehydrated in the street last December. “Angel was only 11 lbs. and barely alive when she came to Rescue from the Hart,” says Annie Hart, founder of the organization that oversaw Angel’s five-week hospitalization. Now weighing in at 33 lbs., the 15-month-old is available for adoption (for info, go to rescuefromthehart.org). Adds Hart: “It’s been a truly beautiful process to see her come out of her shell and learn to be happy.”

NOW

THEN

Huey Winchester, Calif.

This 3-year-old pit bull was abandoned after being used as “bait” during dog fights. When Tracy Lystra, 40, adopted him last December, “I didn’t expect him to live through the night.” But after weekly vet visits, his scars have faded, and he’s up to a healthy 60 lbs. “It really is a miracle.”

NOW

THEN

Mindy Kent, England

Staffers found this Jack Russell terrier mix, then 1, cowering inside a dirty cat carrier – and suffering from a severe case of untreated mange – outside the Mayhew Animal Home in London one night. But after only 10 weeks of care, she was given a clean bill of health and adopted by a local family.

This Cat Is Nursing Puppies!

There’s always room for one more!

SERAPHINA | MOORESVILLE, N.C.

When two newborn Rottweilers were abandoned by their mother, Seraphina rushed in to nurse them. The twist? Seraphina’s not another canine mom; she’s an 18-month-old tabby. “She’d just had a tiny litter of three kittens, so we decided it doesn’t hurt to try,” says Lori Root, director of the Humane Society of Iredell County. “Seraphina immediately took to them. It was beautiful.” The growing pups, Wyatt and Willow, need feedings every two hours, so the center still supplements with bottles. In a few weeks they’ll be big enough to be weaned—and adopted! In the meantime, says Root, “she takes very good care of those babies.”

THESE HERO PETS MADE HEADLINES THIS YEAR

THE WHITE HOUSE HEROES

Where was Bo? Secret Service dogs Hurricane and Jordan helped to quickly pin down an intruder who jumped over the White House fence last October. The highly trained Belgian Malinois K-9s suffered minor bruising but were universally heralded for their heroism.

THE REAL-LIFE LASSIE

As officer John Gonzalez patrolled Germantown, Wis., in February, a barking black Labrador caught his attention. The dog, John Boy, led Gonzalez to a house, where its owner (who reportedly had a heart condition)was found unconscious. She was rushed to the hospital and stabilized. Good boy, John Boy!

THE CAT THAT SAVED A BABY FROM FREEZING

In January a stray feline in Obninsk, Russia, saved the life of a baby boy left in a box on a cold stairwell. The cat, described by locals who fed her as quiet and friendly, meowed to attract the attention of passersby and snuggled beside the tot until he was rescued.

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