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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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Animals
Watch as Hummingbirds Fly, Drink, and Flap Their Tiny Wings in Slow Motion
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Hummingbirds have more feathers per inch than nearly any other bird, but it’s hard to fully appreciate their luminescent colors when they beat their wings between 70 to 200 times per second.

For the enjoyment of birders everywhere, National Geographic photographer Anand Varma teamed up with bird biologists and used a high-speed, high-resolution camera to capture the tiny creatures in slow motion as they flew through wind tunnels, drank artificial nectar from a glass vessel, and shook water from their magnificent plumage.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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Big Questions
Why Do Dogs Howl at Sirens?
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A dog's behavior can often prove confusing to their human colleagues. We know they like to eat their own poop, but puzzle at their motivations. We're surprised when dogs give a ladybug the same greeting as a home intruder.

Topping the list of eccentric canine behavior: Why do dogs howl at sirens? Is there some genetic predisposition to responding to a high-pitched alarm from passing ambulances or police vehicles?

As it turns out, the reason dogs howl at sirens is because of their ancestry—namely, the wolf. When members of a pack are fractured and spread out, their companions will howl to provide a way of locating them. Think of it as nature’s GPS: By howling, dogs are able to communicate their respective locations to one another, even across long distances.

Since dogs really don’t know what a cop car is supposed to sound like, they’ll often interpret a siren as an animal’s howl. It’s also possible that dogs consider sirens to be a sign that something is abnormal in their environment, and that they want you, the pack leader, to be aware of it.

Contrary to belief, a dog is rarely howling because the noise hurts their delicate ears. If that were the case, some experts say, then they would display other behaviors, like running and hiding.

The more a dog hears and responds to a siren, the more they might be compelled to continue the behavior. That’s because dogs who howl and then notice the sound drifting away might begin to associate their vocalizing with the disappearance of the noise. In the future, they’ll probably recall that they “drove” the interloper away with their warbling and repeat the process.

While howling is usually harmless, sometimes it can be a sign that your pet is feeling separation anxiety from an owner or that they’re feeling unwell. If howling persists even without a screaming siren within earshot, you might consider taking them in for a check-up.

If you’ve wondered why dogs howl at sirens, now you know. It’s simply a way of signaling their location and not because it pains them. Owners, on the other hand, might feel differently.

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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