1. Tiger earns his stripes
My cat, Tiger, hates it when I use my iPad because it takes my attention away from him. One year, I had a fall at home and was on the floor for 16 hours. During this time, I was unable to move and couldn’t get to the phone to call for help. Tiger stayed by my side until he vanished under my bed.
What’s he up to? I wondered. To my surprise, he started to push something toward me. It was my iPad, which I didn’t realize had fallen off the bed and onto the floor underneath. He probably didn’t know what it was, but he knew that it made me happy.
Thanks to Tiger, I was able to contact a friend, who then contacted em.erg.ency services. I spent the next eight days in hospital recovering. When I returned home, I bought Tiger a salmon out of gratitude.—Ray Betteridge
2. Better than a bear hug
In the 1970s, I worked as the car.niv.ore keeper for a large U.K. zoo where one of the earliest successful breedings of a polar bear in captivity took place.
The mother and her male cub were left undisturbed for three months following the cub’s arrival. However, by the time the pair was finally released into the outside enclosure, their swimming pool had been drained of water and filled with a thick layer of straw.
A crowd of VIPs and reporters gathered to witness the cub’s first public appearance. As soon as the pair emerged, the fluffy cub began exploring his surroundings and waddled up a ramp that led to a diving platform that projected five meters out over the pool. Suddenly, the layer of straw seemed inadequate.
Everyone held their breath as the cub peered down at the long drop below. He leaned even further forward and lost his balance, somehow managing to dangle helplessly by his forepaws from the edge of the platform. Realizing his predicament, the cub let out an an.gui.shed howl.
His mother had been exploring the far side of the enclosure, completely oblivious to her newborn’s pred.ica.ment. At the sound of his distress, she raced across, jumped down into the pool, raised herself on her hind legs directly beneath him and stretched out her front paws. The cub released his hold on the ledge and dropped onto his mother’s waiting forelegs. She lowered him gently onto the layer of straw and then cuffed him around the ear before returning to her exploration of the enclosure.—Nicholas Ordinans
3. Paying their respects
On a frosty, winter morning in June, we awoke at about 7:30 a.m. to find that our dear goat Clarabelle, who was slightly overdue, had given birth to—and lost—her baby. This was her second pregnancy. She had twins the previous year, but this time she only had the one and she was very d.is.tr.aug.ht. Her big eyes looked sadly into mine.
One of the most memorable things that occurred during the morning was the procession of animals that went in and out of the pen to pay their respects to Clarabelle and her little one, which we decided to name Rosie. Cats went in with chickens and ducks and, of course, the other goats.
Her best friend Annie came in with her newborn twin kids, while Gus and Roddy, our male goats, looked on through their fenced paddock.
There were no fights and it was unusually quiet; all the animals were very somber. Our cat Tabitha even licked the baby and rubbed around Clarabelle, which would not normally happen. Birds sat quietly and looked on from the trees, and the air was heavy with grief. It is something I will always remember.
We left Clarabelle to grieve with her baby for a day. She didn’t want to leave it. She was fretful and “cried” for days and didn’t want to eat anything. It took a fortnight or more for her to get through her mo.urn.ing period.—Tracey Ney
4. Battered Chip
Our parakeet, Chip, and Goldie, a stray tortoiseshell kitten we took in, grew to be best friends, eating and playing together. I was a member of a bird conservation organization at the time, so we often took care of injured birds. Goldie helped raise dozens of injured and orphaned native birds, acting as a watchful guardian.
One day, it was Chip who needed Goldie’s supervision. I had left a large bowl of pancake batter uncovered in the kitchen. But while I was out of the room, Chip climbed onto the bowl to have a taste but soon fell in and s.a.n.k. Luckily, Goldie was on hand and stuck her face in the bowl to fish Chip out. She cleaned his face and beak so he could breathe before running to alert me with a loud meow.
I followed Goldie, who was also covered in batter, back into the kitchen and found a battered budgie on the floor. After being washed, dried, and warmed, Chip made a full recovery. Bowls were always covered in future, and Goldie and Chip remained the best of friends.—Anne Marr