Chernobyl Puppies are Making Their Way to the U.S. and Canada to Find Their Forever Homes

A veterinarian working for The Dogs of Chernobyl initiative bathes a stray puppy in Chernobyl.
A veterinarian working for The Dogs of Chernobyl initiative bathes a stray puppy in Chernobyl.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

For the first time ever, a group of puppies that were born in Chernobyl, Ukraine, have been removed from the exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant whose reactor exploded in 1986, causing one of the worst nuclear disasters the world has ever seen. As BuzzFeed reports, some of the descendants of dogs that survived the environmental catastrophe have been cleared of radiation and brought to the U.S. and Canada to start new lives.

Until 2018, it was illegal for animals to be removed from the Chernobyl exclusion zone, and it’s still illegal for people to live in Chernobyl City for more than three weeks at a time. When local authorities decided to make an exception for puppies last year, an organization called the Clean Futures Fund launched an adoption program to find new homes for healthy pups.

“You can’t bring anything out of the exclusion zone," Christine Anderson, who adopted one of the rescued dogs, told CBS Sacramento last December. "These puppies are the first things to ever make it out.” Her 8-month-old Chernobyl pup, named Persik, seems happy and healthy, aside from a few quirky habits that likely stem from trying to survive in a harsh environment.

“She really likes to hide underneath things ... and she builds nests,” Anderson says. “She’ll take shoes, take clothes, anything she could find and make a little barrier around herself. I think it makes her feel safe.”

Although some have warned of the dangers of petting the dogs in Chernobyl, Clean Futures Fund co-founder Lucas Hixson says it’s extremely rare to find traces of radiation among the animals. Nonetheless, all of the dogs are tested for radiation, and blood samples are taken as well. In an attempt to reduce the stray dog population, older dogs are spayed and neutered, while puppies are treated and taken to the nearby town of Slavutych to receive training.

More than 40 puppies are eligible for adoption, and over a dozen have already been brought to the U.S. Fourteen puppies were sent to New York. Persik wound up in Northern California. And a pair of siblings found forever homes in Ohio, where a video posted to Instagram shows the two pups being reunited.

In addition to the puppy adoption program, the Clean Futures Fund also continues to raise funds to help spay, neuter, and vaccinate the hundreds of stray dogs in Chernobyl, and you can learn more about their efforts in the video below.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

How to Keep a Cat Out of Your Christmas Tree

MW47/iStock via Getty Images
MW47/iStock via Getty Images

You may be able to resist poking around the Christmas tree until December 25, but your cat has different plans. The tree you spent hours decorating is nothing more than an oversized toy to the feline in your home. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to dissuade your pet from swatting away all your hard work.

As Lifehacker reports, an elaborate skirt is the key to a cat-friendly tree. If a cat loves the soft, fluffy material beneath the tree, it may lose interest in the branches overhead. A different approach is to use the skirt as an opportunity to create an uninviting barrier between your cat and the tree. It's hard to mess with ornaments when they're hanging above a layer of tape laid out sticky-side up, or even a bed of pinecones if you want something that looks more natural.

Some curious cats can't be deterred by a few obstacles in their way. For these cases, PetCareRx recommends using a safe cat repellent. There are many smells cats can't stand, like bitter apple, citronella, potpourri, and even Vicks VapoRub. You can either spray pine cones or cotton balls with these scents and tuck them around the tree, or spray them directly onto the branches. Your cat will suddenly be repulsed by the shiny new object in the living room, plus your tree will smell a little more festive—especially if it's fake.

Even after taking these precautions, it helps to have a few more safeguards in place. Limiting ornaments to the top half of the tree where they'll be out of kitty's reach, and securing them with strings instead of wire hooks, means they're less likely to end up on the ground or in your pet's paws. Location is also crucial—setting up your tree right next to a sofa or another piece of furniture your cat likes to climb on is like inviting him to use it as a launchpad.

If you're thinking of skipping the traditional tree altogether this year, here are some regional alternatives.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Treat Your Achy Back to a Cozy, Vibrating Sloth Pillow This Winter

Smoko
Smoko

Battling your way through the biting winds of winter just to get to your office or run a simple errand—even if you’re just dashing a few yards to and from your car—can make your body feel like it’s been through an actual battle. And while cold weather definitely justifies curling up on the couch under a weighted blanket for hours on end, sometimes a regular throw pillow just isn’t enough to soothe your stiff muscles.

Smoko’s plush boo pillow from Urban Outfitters ($49), however, just might do the trick. Not only does it have a fleece exterior, it also vibrates: Just press the power button on the right arm, and the pillow will give you a subtle, relaxing massage to sink into while you binge-watch whatever television series your friends won’t stop talking about. According to PopSugar, it comes with three AA batteries, so you don’t have to worry about bundling back up for a last-minute trip to the convenience store after you realize the only batteries you have are in your TV remote.

The smiling sloth face on the front gives you the impression that you’re being hugged by the world’s cutest, coziest arboreal mammal. There’s also a handle on the top of the pillow, so you can easily relocate from the couch to your bed whenever you feel like it.

In short, the sloth-themed pillow might make you actually look forward to hearing your local meteorologist drop the term “wintry mix” in the forecast. And, at $49, it’s an ideal gift for anyone on your list who loves sloths and/or enjoys indulging in sloth-like behavior.

You can get one (or more) from Urban Outfitters here—and, for the full effect, why not pair it with a nice ugly Christmas sweater? Here are our 11 favorites.

[h/t PopSugar]

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