Best animal stories of 2016

There’s no better way to start 2017 off on the right foot than to revisit some of the best pet stories from 2016. Whether by warming your heart or making you laugh, you can at least find a reason to smile with most of winter still ahead of you.

Here are eight of NEWStat’s favorite stories from last year:

Dog accidentally enters half marathon

Ludivine the hound dog was let outside on a January morning and found her way over to a half marathon in progress. She ran all 13.1 miles with various runners and was awarded a medal at the end of the race with a sixth-place finish—all without her owner ever realizing she was missing.

National park gets part-time “Bark Ranger” 

Glacier National Park’s many visitors attract mountain goats and bighorn sheep in search of salty treats, which often take the form of anti-freeze from vehicles, or places where guests spit and pee. Park authorities are worried about the danger this can bring to both people and animals. Grace, a two-year-old border collie, has been hired as a ‘Bark Ranger’ to steer wildlife away from parking lots.

Squirrel steals GoPro

Squirrels apparently really like GoPros. Multiple squirrels stole GoPros in 2016, giving us some pretty great treetops videos. This is one of the longer ones, but a quick Google search will provide you more.

Bridesmaids hold rescue puppies instead of flowers

Rather than arrange for bouquets, one bride decided to have her wedding party hold rescue puppies instead. All foster puppies were from Pitties Love Peace and available for adoption. Let’s hope this becomes a trend.

Dog owner dresses as dog's favorite toy 

Jolene’s favorite toy is her Gumby, so her owner dressed as a life-sized version of her favorite toy for Halloween to give her a special treat. She has a great reaction.

Dogs versus stairs

Stairs can be difficult to navigate. Watch this super clip of dogs finding it difficult to go up and down the stairs. Definitely good for a laugh.

Comedy wildlife photography awards

Who says wildlife has to be majestic? Sometimes we want nature to make us smile. You can check out the 2016 finalists and winners here, including a fox that dove headfirst into the snow, a bear that couldn’t quite catch that fish, and a baby polar bear waving at the camera.

Duck costume calms rescue goat’s anxiety

Leanne Lauricella, who runs goat rescue group Goats of Anarchy, bought a child’s duck costume because she thought it would look cute on her baby goats. Little did she know that the duck costume would not only look adorable on Polly, but also help calm her anxiety issues. Lauricella discovered that other costumes, and even fellow goats, could help soothe Polly’s nerves.

NEWStat Interesting/unusual