103-Year-Old Gets Sweet and Furry Birthday Surprise

By now, the relationship between humans and dogs is understood by many as no doubt profound, especially through stories like how shelter dogs learned to aid in the therapy of veterans suffering from PTSD or how a man went to great lengths to return an abandoned dog home. I suppose it’s just a case-to-case question of the level of depth or intimacy of the friendship between species.

However, someone equally sweet and equally furry can also provide a deep connection to human friends. Last April, in an inspirational birthday surprise, a 103-year-old woman named Lillian Grant was gifted with a new kitty friend.

Debbie Presland, the administrator at Ridgeview Gardens Assisted Living in St. George, Utah, where Grant lives, asked the centenarian what she’d want if she could pick anything in the world for her birthday present. “A sweet cat like Sammy,” she said, according to Presland.

Sammy was Grant’s beloved cat who passed away about a year ago. Seeing Grant so obviously still heartbroken, Presland wanted to make her wish come true. Along with her brother Joseph Harradine who was an officer at St. George Animal Shelter, they picked out a previously abandoned cat named Marley.

Right before bringing out her birthday cake, Presland told Grant they had a special surprise for her. Harradine brought out Marley and Grant started cuddling her. “The cat just took to her immediately,” Presland told TODAY.

Grant seemed to think that her present was just Marley’s visit. She initially didn’t realize that the cat was going to be hers. When Grant found out that Marley now belonged to her, the 103-year-old woman was almost in tears. Presland herself almost cried as well.

“Just to see her reaction choked me up . . . It was so sweet.”

After the birthday surprise, Grant and Marley are already inseparable. When two lonely species meet, it seems they can give each other life and be each other’s happiness, which makes me want to say… a shelter cat might as well be a woman’s best friend, eh?

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Student In Foster System Adopted By Former Teacher

It is in a typical mother’s disposition to nurture, even beyond their own families. A full-time mom and part-time coupon collector, Kimberly Gager used her stash to help Hurricane Harvey victims. A teacher at Pathways Learning Center, Bennie Berry was a mom to hundreds of students. But when 16-year-old Anthony asked Berry to adopt him, true motherhood became a reality.

‘Well, at first I thought he was making jokes until he actually explained the situation,’ said Bennie…

‘And then we struck a deal: Finish an assignment and then you can show me the website.’

In foster care since the age of 9, Anthony gave up hope on becoming part of a family — until enrolling in Bennie’s English class. Though Anthony’s swift request came as a total surprise, Bennie didn’t hesitate to take the youngster in.

‘I have a son. I’m more than elated,’ she said… ‘I have a son for the rest of my life.’

Sometimes, love happens in ways that can’t be taught — not even by an English teacher.

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Millionaire Rescues Foster Children After Irma

For millionaires who give back, writing big checks is the most sensible option. Just last month, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates donated $4.6 billion to charity. But for foster children displaced by Hurricane Irma, millionaire Marc Bell is doing something different. The former executive of Penthouse magazine opened his Florida mansion to 70 kids.

“There was an abundance of love. All these kids were getting one-on-one attention, which they never get. All the little kids were being held by someone and the older kids were getting one-on-one conversation,” [said Bell]

By the numbers, the Bell family ordered 20 pizzas, did 36 loads of laundry, and served 800 meals in 72 hours. To entertain the presumably nervous children, the Bells also hired balloon artists and ice cream trucks.

“It was a magical experience and I managed to talk to all the kids and get to know them,”

“We always help people. We never say ‘no,’… That’s just who we are.”

When the children returned to the SOS Children’s Villages shelter, Bell took the time to visit them. Bell has since proved to be not only a philanthropist, but an active figure in the lives of children in need.

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Couple Postpones Wedding To Rescue Florida Citizens

For the recent victims of Harvey and Irma, several knights in shining armor have come to the rescue. This includes big businesses like Houston Bike Share, that are making donations to families who have lost cars. They also include individuals such as this air force couple who postponed their wedding to rescue Florida citizens.

Michael Davis and Lauren Durham were supposed to get married in mid-September. But one week before the big day, the couple decided to skip their scheduled wedding in order to rescue strangers from Hurricane Irma.

Both are medical technicians, and while their hearts were with one another, they were also with the victims who needed them. Instead of wedding on Atlantic Beach, the two exchanged vows in a Florida hangar.

“The Air Force lives by the creed ‘service before self,’ ” Davis says. “So that’s what we’re here for, to put the citizens first.”

I guess, then, that it’s true. Love can move mountains. Or, in this case, move victims to safety.

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Difficult Conversations You Need To Have With Your Significant Other

How many kids to have, whether or not to share a bank account, and where to host a dream wedding don’t make first-date conversations. In fact, you may end up with a runaway date and dinner bill all to yourself. But somewhere along the road, they become increasingly relevant, especially when long-term partnership is in the books.

Whether you have been together for a year or five, these are the conversations you definitely need to have with your significant other.

Once a relationship has been defined (or DTR’d, for millennial readers), it is crucial to lay down your expectations of one another. Are you a private person? And if so, how much of your relationship are you willing to openly share on social media? While it is not uncommon to experience the occasional bout of insecurity, do you expect your partner to provide you with updates throughout the day? Whatever the case, it is important to express your expectations, within reasonable limits.

The popular saying, “opposites attract” is the case for some couples. However, it isn’t always fun and games when your notions and ideas clash. Beliefs are a vital area of discussion, especially if you hail from two polarizing backgrounds. If you are a devout animal rights activist, can you stomach a partner who loves steak and frites? Appreciating the politics of another is something that is naturally realized between two people–but couples exist on a different level of intimacy, which is not always as simple as it seems.

It remains inevitable for a couple to engage in the periodic argument. Perhaps he had forgotten to do the groceries or she forgot to let the dog out to do his business. Regardless, a means of communication must be established. Are you the type who is confrontational? Do you need time to gather your thoughts before discussing the issue at hand? Your partner must eventually familiarize themselves with your habits–how you get a point across. Addressing how your partner thinks he or she can best handle a difficult situation may not be the most comfortable discussion (in fact, we know it isn’t). Instead, recall a particular argument you may have had and analyze how your significant other handled the situation.

Meeting a serious partner’s family is always a formidable moment. While it may be intimidating, it is also exciting and something that should be discussed beforehand. Talking about your family relationships is a topic that shouldn’t be avoided. Your mother may prefer quiet brunches on Sundays while his or hers may be boisterous and all about nightlife. Find common ground–an activity both parties can appreciate. Know how to approach your partner’s relatives. Maybe they are soft-spoken. Maybe they are loud. Nevertheless, it isn’t about being impressive. It’s about demonstrating your best qualities and showing nothing but respect.

Talks about the future may be fun and casual, but this will not always be the case. Together with your partner, enumerate your goals as a couple. What do you foresee when the honeymoon phase comes to an end? Do you plan to live in the city or perhaps somewhere more remote? Agree to compromise when you can’t completely see eye-to-eye.

 

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Deaf Dog Learns Sign Language

As the owner of a senior dog with hip dysplasia, I have learned to adapt to the hassle of frequent visits to the vet and having to haul all 28 kilograms of my retriever-spitz mix Charley up the stairs every evening. Charley, who is perfectly functional in all other aspects (save for faltering vision in her right eye), is a handful. So hearing about Blue, a hard-of-hearing pit bull who learned sign language in only a few months, had me speechless.

Cops discovered [Blue] chained to a fence, abandoned and freezing, on West 170th Street in Washington Heights.

“At first we thought she was just scared and confused,” said Victoria Wells, the senior manager of behavior at the ASPCA rescue center. “But then we noticed whenever someone opened Blue’s kennel, she’d sleep right through all the commotion.”

“Any dog with a good sense of hearing would have been startled,”

In an attempt to boost Blue’s chances of finding a forever home, seven behavior specialists from the ASPCA trained Blue to understand signing.

First, Blue learned the “thumbs-up” signal.

Twenty-five other signals followed —come, sit, watch, stay… and lie down.

The ASPCA treats ten to twenty deaf dogs each year. According to them, Blue is ready for adoption.

Now if only I could get Charley to quit doing her business on the couch…

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Canada Advances In The Human Rights Movement

Over the last decade, the LGBT community has seen victory after victory. While most societies now openly identify gender diverse communities with respect, homosexuality remains a crime in at least 70 countries. Having passed the Bill C-16 on Thursday, June 15, Canada is one step ahead in advancing LGBT rights.

The Senate approved Bill C-16, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, by a vote of 67 to 11.

Passage of the legislation “marks a significant step toward recognizing transgender and gender diverse communities as worthy of dignity and respect,”

Canada further supports other LGBT movements.

Earlier this month, Canada announced it will assume the role of co-chair of the new Equal Rights Coalition.

Canada also promotes the extension of human rights for sexual minorities within the Commonwealth.

The country, under the Trudeau administration, has clearly shown leadership in advancing human rights.

Canada has an opportunity to lead the effort to persuade world leaders that they need not fear the rights of their citizens to live their lives as they choose, including in how they express their sexuality and gender.

Minorities have experienced inevitable backlash but prove to be resilient in a quickly developing world.

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