Labradoodle 'Inventor' Calls the Crossbreed His Biggest Regret

dmbaker/iStock via Getty Images
dmbaker/iStock via Getty Images

Many inventors regret their most famous inventions: The scientists behind the atomic bomb, the creator of the AK-47, and, as he recently revealed on a podcast, the dog breeder behind the Labradoodle.

"I opened a Pandora's box and released a Frankenstein['s] monster," 90-year-old Wally Conron told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, calling the designer dog breed his "life's regret."

According to the BBC, the Australian breeder created the Labradoodle in 1989 to meet the specific needs of one couple from Hawaii. The wife was blind and needed a guide dog, but her husband was allergic to the type long hair found on typical service dogs like labs. Conron's solution was to crossbreed a poodle with a Labrador. That way, his clients would have a dog with the obedience and temperament of a Lab and the short, curly coat of a poodle.

The experiment produced some unintended consequences: Labradoodles are prone to a number of health problems, such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia. They're also incredibly adorable, which has been enough to make them a popular pet breed despite their genetic baggage.

Since the inception of the Labradoodle, designer crossbreeds have become a hot trend in the dog world. Conron says that the practice has encouraged breeders to cross poodles with "inappropriate" breeds, prioritizing cuteness and novelty over the dogs' wellbeing.

Health issues aren't exclusive to Labradoodles. Many designer dogs are more vulnerable to hereditary diseases that make life harder for both the pooches and their owners. That's one more reason to adopt instead of shop—even if it means the dog you take home doesn't have a catchy breed name.

[h/t BBC]

Move Over Dogs, Goats, and Peacocks: Llamas Are the Hot New Therapy Animal

jensenwy/iStock via Getty Images
jensenwy/iStock via Getty Images

Possibly because Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and the rest of the reindeer are pretty busy at this time of year, Kimpton Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon, is offering guests the chance to hang out with a few jolly llamas instead.

The Washington Post reports that the friendly, festively dressed llamas belong to Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas and Alpacas, which usually brings them to hospitals, rehabilitation centers, senior communities, hospice care, special-needs organizations, and even schools. According to the organization’s website, the visits help “alleviate loneliness, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress.”

And, though the clinical benefits to the Kimpton’s guests haven’t been proven, hotel manager Travis Williams confirms that everyone definitely loves spending time with the quirky quadrupeds. Last year, after overwhelmingly positive reactions to the llama visits, the hotel decided to bring them back.

“Once we saw the joy that it brought people, we just kept going,” Williams told The Washington Post.

While it might seem like the use of llamas for therapy is a characteristically Portland-ish idea, it’s not the only place you can find them. The New York Times reports that 20 llamas and alpacas are registered with Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization for therapy animals, and many others are owned and trained by private family farms across the country.

Jeff and Carol Rutledge, for example, have 13 llamas and alpacas on their property in Stockdale, Texas, outside San Antonio. Three of them are registered therapy animals, having passed a test that includes being touched by strangers and staying unaffected while people argue near them.

During their visits to assisted living facilities, veterans’ homes, and other events in the area, the Rutledges have observed the animals having a profound effect on residents’ behavior. One man, who is nonverbal and recovering from a motorcycle accident, will murmur as he grooms one of the llamas. And the Rutledges’ high-school-aged daughter, Zoe, even did a science experiment for her 4-H club that showed the residents’ blood pressure is lower after visiting with the llamas.

While there’s not a very high chance of seeing therapy llamas in airports just yet, you might be lucky enough to see something a little smaller—like LiLou, San Francisco International Airport’s first therapy pig.

[h/t The Washington Post]

Three Cows Carried Away by Hurricane Dorian Turn Up Five Miles From Their Home

Bob Douglas/iStock via Getty Images
Bob Douglas/iStock via Getty Images

A lot of unusual things turn up on beaches after major storms, from Civil War cannonballs to 19th-century shipwrecks. Hurricane Dorian made an especially surprising delivery to the Outer Banks in North Carolina earlier this year. As Smithsonian reports, three cows thought to be lost for good were found grazing on a shoreline miles away from their home.

The cattle are originally from Cedar Island, a fishing community on the North Carolina coast. Wild horses in this region have adapted to survive the hurricanes that regularly batter the state, but the rapid flooding was too strong for one group of animals when Hurricane Dorian landed in September. The storm surge swept away 17 cattle and 28 horses from the island.

All of the animals missing from Cedar Island were feared to be dead, and the bodies of a few horses were even discovered washed up on shore. But against abysmal odds, at least three of the cows survived. The first was found in Cape Lookout National Seashore in the barrier islands the day after the storm dissipated. Three weeks later, two more cows showed up on the same stretch of grass four to five miles from where they were last seen.

The cattle of Cedar Island can swim, but crossing several miles of stormy water would have been treacherous for any land animal. Despite the traumatic journey, the official Facebook page for Cedar Island's horses reports that the cows "look healthy and well." The next step will be to transport the cows back to their original home, possibly by ferry. If that plan falls through, the trio will become permanent residents of Cape Lookout.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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