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The Ancient Connection Between Corgis and Fairies

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iStock

When one thinks of corgis, the first thing to come to mind may very well be, “Isn’t that the breed of dog the Queen of England really likes?” That’s true, of course. But there are plenty of other fun facts to file away about the fluffy canines. For example: Fairies used to ride them into battle.

That’s if you believe Welsh legend, anyway. According to the stories, a pair of corgis—specifically, the breed known as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, as opposed to the Cardigan Welsh Corgi—were gifted to two human children by the “wee folk,” who used them for any number of tasks.

The diminutive dog breed was said to have been handy for pulling the fairies’ carts and carriages, as well as for riding into battle. Though the most commonly-told tale of the discovery of corgis has human children stumbling across the dogs—whom they at first assumed to be foxes—another version tells of a battle between two warring fairy tribes, the Tywyth Teg and the Gwyllion, which resulted in the deaths of two of the Tywyth Teg.

Two children happened upon the Tywyth Teg funeral procession and were gifted the departed warriors’ noble steeds to help with their herding. As the dogs were passed on to the children, a representative of the Tywyth Teg spoke fondly of the dogs’ talents. “They are trained warriors in their own right,” he supposedly said. “But they are more than warriors: they are great helpers for the faerie folk.” The diminutive dogs were perfect for herding cows, he explained; Their short stature kept them out of the way of flying hooves when they nipped at angry cows’ heels.

The corgi’s battle-forged origin explains a few things about the high-energy breed. First off is the name: gi is dog in Welsh, and cor is dwarf, so corgi is literally “dog of the dwarfs.” Many corgis have a darker patch of fur under their shoulders that even today is sometimes known as the “fairy saddle.” And if corgis have a tendency to get nippy, well, that’s because fairies don’t really give gifts without strings attached. Outfitting a corgi with a collar that has some iron or steel, it is said, will keep the corgi from biting its owner, as fairies are naturally averse to those metals.

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Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
How a Hairdresser Found a Way to Fight Oil Spills With Hair Clippings
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker made global news in 1989 when it dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Alaska's coast. As experts were figuring out the best ways to handle the ecological disaster, a hairdresser from Alabama named Phil McCroy was tinkering with ideas of his own. His solution, a stocking stuffed with hair clippings, was an early version of a clean-up method that's used at real oil spill sites today, according to Vox.

Hair booms are sock-like tubes stuffed with recycled hair, fur, and wool clippings. Hair naturally soaks up oil; most of the time it's sebum, an oil secreted from our sebaceous glands, but it will attract crude oil as well. When hair booms are dragged through waters slicked with oil, they sop up all of that pollution in a way that's gentle on the environment.

The same properties that make hair a great clean-up tool at spills are also what make animals vulnerable. Marine life that depends on clean fur to stay warm can die if their coats are stained with oil that's hard to wash off. Footage of an otter covered in oil was actually what inspired Phil McCroy to come up with his hair-based invention.

Check out the full story from Vox in the video below.

[h/t Vox]

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Bristly
A New Chew Toy Will Help Your Dog Brush Its Own Teeth
Bristly
Bristly

Few pet owners are willing to sit down and brush their pet's teeth on a regular basis. (Most of us can barely convince ourselves to floss our own teeth, after all.) Even fewer pets are willing to sit calmly and let it happen. But pet dental care matters: I’ve personally spent more than $1000 in the last few years dealing with the fact that my cat’s teeth are rotting out of her head.

For dog owners struggling to brush poor Fido’s teeth, there’s a slightly better option. Bristly, a product currently being funded on Kickstarter, is a chew toy that acts as a toothbrush. The rubber stick, which can be slathered with doggie toothpaste, is outfitted with bristles that brush your dog’s teeth as it plays.

A French bulldog chews on a Bristly toy.
Bristly

Designed so your dog can use it without you lifting a finger, it’s shaped like a little pogo stick, with a flattened base that allows dogs to stabilize it with their paws as they hack at the bristled stick with their teeth. The bristles are coated in a meat flavoring to encourage dogs to chew.

An estimated 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some kind of dental disease, so the chances that your dog could use some extra dental attention is very high. In addition to staving off expensive vet bills, brushing your dog's teeth can improve their smelly breath.

Bristly comes in three sizes as well as in a heavy-duty version made for dogs who are prone to ripping through anything they can get their jaws around. A Bristly stick costs $29 and is scheduled to start shipping in October. Get it here.

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