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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
What Makes a Cat's Tail Puff Up When It's Scared?
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Cats wear their emotions on their tails, not their sleeves. They tap their fluffy rear appendages during relaxing naps, thrash them while tense, and hold them stiff and aloft when they’re feeling aggressive, among other behaviors. And in some scary situations (like, say, being surprised by a cucumber), a cat’s tail will actually expand, puffing up to nearly twice its volume as its owner hisses, arches its back, and flattens its ears. What does a super-sized tail signify, and how does it occur naturally without help from hairspray?

Cats with puffed tails are “basically trying to make themselves look as big as possible, and that’s because they detect a threat in the environment," Dr. Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss. The “threat” in question can be as major as an approaching dog or as minor as an unexpected noise. Even if a cat isn't technically in any real danger, it's still biologically wired to spring to the offensive at a moment’s notice, as it's "not quite at the top of the food chain,” Delgado says. And a big tail is reflexive feline body language for “I’m big and scary, and you wouldn't want to mess with me,” she adds.

A cat’s tail puffs when muscles in its skin (where the hair base is) contract in response to hormone signals from the stress/fight or flight system, or sympathetic nervous system. Occasionally, the hairs on a cat’s back will also puff up along with the tail. That said, not all cats swell up when a startling situation strikes. “I’ve seen some cats that seem unflappable, and they never get poofed up,” Delgado says. “My cats get puffed up pretty easily.”

In addition to cats, other animals also experience piloerection, as this phenomenon is technically called. For example, “some birds puff up when they're encountering an enemy or a threat,” Delgado says. “I think it is a universal response among animals to try to get themselves out of a [potentially dangerous] situation. Really, the idea is that you don't have to fight because if you fight, you might lose an ear or you might get an injury that could be fatal. For most animals, they’re trying to figure out how to scare another animal off without actually going fisticuffs.” In other words, hiss softly, but carry a big tail.

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Animals
10 Notable Gestation Periods in the Animal Kingdom
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The gestation periods of the animal kingdom are varied and fascinating. Some clock in at just a few weeks, making any human green with envy, while others can last more than a year. Here are 10 notable gestation times for animals around the globe. The lesson? Be thankful that you’re not a pregnant elephant.

1. ELEPHANTS: 640-660 DAYS

Elephants are pregnant for a long time. Like really, really long. At an average of 95 weeks, the gestation period is more than double the length of a human pregnancy, so it shouldn't come as a shock that female elephants don't often have more than four offspring during their lifetimes. Who has the time?

2. HIPPOS: 8 MONTHS

A photo of a mother hippo and her baby in Uganda

Yes, it takes less time to make a hippopotamus than it takes to make a human.

3. GIRAFFE: 14-15 MONTHS

Baby giraffes can weigh more than 150 pounds and can be around 6 feet tall. Another fascinating tidbit: giraffes give birth standing up, so it's pretty normal for a baby to fall 6 feet to the ground.

4. KILLER WHALE: 17 MONTHS

There’s a reason for the long wait: after that 17 months, Baby Shamu emerges weighing anywhere from 265 to 353 pounds and measuring about 8.5 feet long. Yikes.

5. OPOSSUM: 12-13 DAYS

A baby opossum wrapped up in a blanket

Blink and you'll miss it: This is the shortest gestation period of any mammal in North America. But since the lifespan of an opossum is only two to four years, it makes sense.

6. GERBILS: 25 DAYS

Hey, they get off pretty easy.

7. GORILLAS: 8.5 MONTHS

It's not a huge surprise that their gestational periods are pretty similar to ours, right?

8. BLACK BEAR: 220 DAYS

A pair of black bear cubs

Also less than a human. Interestingly, cubs might only be 6 to 8 inches in length at birth and are completely hairless. 

9. PORCUPINE: 112 DAYS

This is the longest gestation period of any rodent. Thankfully for the mother, porcupine babies (a.k.a. porcupettes) are actually born with soft quills, and it's not until after birth that they harden up.

10. WALRUS: 15 MONTHS

Baby walruses? Kind of adorable. They certainly take their sweet time coming out, though.

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