Don't Pet the Puppies in Chernobyl

Sean Gallup, Getty Images
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

In 1986, the residents of Chernobyl were forced to flee their homes when the town’s nuclear power plant turned into a disaster zone. The area of Ukraine has been without a permanent human population ever since, but that doesn’t mean it’s empty. The landscape is teeming with insects, plant life, and even radioactive puppies descended from the house pets that were abandoned there 31 years ago.

A new mini documentary from Cloth Map explores the lives of some of Chernobyl’s cutest occupants. In the “Puppies of Chernobyl,” the tiny animals can be seen playing, wagging their tails, and running around just like domesticated dogs. Though the stray dogs tend to gather around places with the most tourist activity, like Chernobyl’s canteen, contact between humans and puppies is discouraged. As host Drew Scanlon explains in the video below, “Visitors are advised not to touch animals in the exclusion zone because they could carry radioactive particles in their fur.”

According to Newsweek, the radioactivity goes even deeper than that. When the American nonprofit Clean Futures Fund surveyed dogs in the exclusion zone, they found pockets of radioisotopes in their bones. The organization has set up a spay and neuter clinic nearby to keep the line of Chernobyl dogs from proliferating.

Parts of Chernobyl have been open to visitors since 2011, but officials still warn about the health risks posed to visitors who don’t follow the rules. Despite this, some explorers, like YouTube star Bionerd23, have been known to taste-test radioactive apples and feed catfish off the designated path. Even the workers with the Clean Futures Fund can’t resist petting the puppies in Chernobyl, but at least they know enough to wash their hands afterwards.

[h/t Newsweek]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Reason Your Dog Stares at You

Dogs stare for a number of different reasons.
Dogs stare for a number of different reasons.
sankai/iStock via Getty Images

Sooner or later, every dog owner will find their pet expressing an innate curiosity over even the most mundane of actions. Watching television? The dog will observe you closely. Folding laundry? The dog will stare at you like you’re a Magic Eye poster.

You can tell the dog it’s rude, but they’ll continue doing it. So why do dogs stare at us?

It often has little to do with what we’re doing and is more about what we might do. Dogs are big on visual cues. They know a walk is preceded by you picking up their leash; dinnertime might involve going to the pantry; a car ride means grabbing the keys. If they get a treat by obeying a command, then they know you’re probably going to start pointing at them and want to make sure they don’t miss it. In keeping an eye on you, a dog is looking for hints that you’re going to do something they want.

Dogs may also use staring as a method to train their owner. Most people are more likely to slip a dog something off their dinner plate if the dog is looking up at them wistfully. If that behavior is rewarded, then the dog knows giving you a pleading look may result in some pork chops landing at their feet.

But not all dogs stare out of greed. For dogs, just like humans, making eye contact releases oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone.” It’s a bonding experience for humans and their animal companions.

Of course, staring can have other connotations, particularly if it’s not a dog you know very well. An unblinking, focused stare with a rigid body posture can mean the dog is feeling territorial or might be considering taking a bite out of you. It’s best to back away. It’s also not advisable to hold a dog still and stare at them, as this might be considered an act of aggression.

The next time you catch your dog eyeing you, it’s likely they’re hoping for a walk, a treat, or just want to bond. Absent other methods of communication, staring is an effective way for getting their humans to behave.

[h/t American Kennel Club]