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11 Dogs Performing Amazing Tricks

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For most of us, sit, stay, heel and lay down are pretty much the only essential dog tricks. If you really want a little flair, you might even teach your dog to play dead, beg, roll over or shake. But for some pet owners, these tricks are just child’s play. These 11 dogs have mastered far more interesting tricks, from the useful to the totally bizarre.

1. Does He Speak English?

Skidboot is quite the helper out on this horse ranch. He not only leads the horses around, he retrieves the phone and answers phone calls. As if that weren’t enough, he also listens so well to his master’s commands that he managed to win first place and $25,000 on Pet Star. After more than 10 years in the spotlight, Skidboot passed away.

2. He Should Be In The Olympics

Jumpy may not speak English as well as Skidboot, but his agility is second to none. He can parkour, surf, walk in a hand stand, skateboard on rough terrain and boy, can he jump.

3. Parkour

Tret only has one real amazing talent, but when that skill is free running, that’s all he needs to blow minds. His jumping, climbing and running talents are beyond compare and, best of all, he seems to have a blast practicing his technique.

4. She Does Whatever She’s Told

For those who like a little more obedience mixed in with a set of agility tricks, it’s hard to beat Elee, who does whatever her master wants her to do, whether it means backing herself up a tree, rolling herself in a blanket, crossing her paws a particular way, or playing the drums.

5. Useful Tricks

Jesse is an utterly brilliant dog who specializes in tricks that are truly helpful. In his three part  “Useful Dog Tricks” series, he opens the blinds, wakes up his owners, grabs what he needs for breakfast, makes tea and breakfast, makes the bed, grabs the paper and the mail, throws away trash, goes shopping, puts away toys, takes out the trash, folds and puts away towels, dusts, cleans up spills, vacuums, answers the phone, helps his owners relax after their days at work, and more. He’s like a perfect 1950s housewife in an adorable Jack Russell costume.

6. Getting A Towel Before Going Swimming

There’s nothing like a pup that plans ahead. Chase understands that a dip in the pool means drying off later, so he knows to grab a towel before he dives in. He is even considerate enough to grab an extra towel for his French bulldog friend who doesn’t seem to understand this whole process.

7. Closing the Door

It’s hard to tell if this dog was actually born in this barn, but either way, he still knows that it’s bad manners to just leave the door open.

8. Beer Fetching

Back in the eighties, Spuds MacKenzie was considered the ultimate party dog. But while Spuds was busy chugging all of the Budweiser, this handsome retriever gets busy helping ensure everyone has a fresh, cold beer in their hand.

9. Double Dutch

As someone who could never master Double Dutch jump rope, I find Geronimo’s skills with the game simply mind-blowing—especially considering that he has two extra feet to contend with while jumping.

10. Jenga

Granted, this dog doesn’t actually play Jenga (that would just be ridiculous), but she does provide an excellent building place for the game. Fortunately, her owners don’t make her sit and wait for the entire game to be played before she’s allowed to snack on all these tasty treats.

11. Eye Crossing

Sure, Olive’s trick might not be all that useful compared to some of the other tricks on this list, but I’d like to see you get a dog to cross its eyes even once, let alone on command.

BONUS: Horsing Around

Lest you think only dogs can be trained to perform such useful tasks, here’s Patches the horse riding in a car, getting his owners some beers and answering the phone. Of course, if you do get a horse and try to get him to follow in Patches’ shoes, I highly suggest not feeding it cheeseburgers.

While I’ve never had a dog that could do more than the basics, I have heard of a dentist who trained his dog to pull back his lips so he could “smile.” What about you guys—what’s the weirdest pet trick you’ve ever seen?

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Animals
Squirrels Are Probably More Organized Than You, Study Finds
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Despite having a brain that's slightly bigger than the size of a peanut M&M, squirrels have a fascinating, razor-sharp instinct when it comes to survival. They know that acorns that are high in fat and sprout late are perfect for long-term storage, so they salvage them for winter and eat the less nutritionally dense white-oak acorns right away. They also tend to remember where they put their acorn stash rather than relying solely on smell. Like nature's perfect stunt performer, they can even fall out of trees in a way that minimizes physical damage. Now, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have unveiled a newly discovered part of a squirrel's hoarding strategy, Atlas Obscura reports.

The researchers tracked 45 wild fox squirrels on the UC-Berkeley campus for nearly two years. They made available to the squirrels four different types of nuts—walnuts, pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts. Sometimes the animals were given a single type of nut, and other times the nuts were mixed. Either way, the squirrels promptly sorted and stored their food according to type—walnuts went in one hiding place, almonds in another, and so on.

This type of behavior is known as "chunking" and makes it easier to retrieve data in memory. In doing this, a squirrel won't have to visit several different places looking for pecans: They know just where the main supply is. Squirrels can stockpile up to 10,000 nuts a year, so it's essential for them to know which type of nut is where.

The study, published in Royal Society Open Science, also indicated that squirrels seem to understand nuts have weight, choosing to carry heavier acquisitions to a different location than lighter nuts.

Squirrels being squirrels, they were happy to be gifted an assortment of nuts during the experiment, but there was one wrinkle: Rather than stash them away, sometimes they'd just eat them on the spot.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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