Good enough to eat? What to do if your dog swallows a face mask

November 23, 2020

Yet another unexpected side effect of the COVID-19 crisis may be on the rise: Some of our four-footed household members think that face masks are tasty.

That was the first thought that ran through Chicagoan Nikki Nardick’s mind when she realized a white cotton face mask her grandmother had monogrammed was missing—and her five-month-old fox red lab Marvin was on the scene, licking his lips, Real Simple reports.

She was used to Marvin’s mischievous antics—he is still a puppy, after all—but the discovery that he might have actually eaten the mask brought on a new level of anxiety. “I instantly went into panicked mom mode and called our vet,” Nardick says.

In the age of COVID-19, keeping face masks away from dogs is just one more thing pet owners have to worry about.

“A new and unthought-of issue has arisen when our loyal canine friends have found our masks and decided [they are] a treat and not protective gear,” Brandon Sinn, DVM, director of Veterinary Services for Mahaska, Kansas-based PuppySpot, recently told Real Simple. He notes that, while responsible dog owners are used to having to keep harmful items (such as avocados and alcohol) away from their pets, many have not yet adapted to the new mask routine. “A puppy can quickly snag a mask in the time it takes to turn around,” Dr. Sinn says.

Sarah Wooten, DVM, veterinary spokesperson for Pumpkin Pet Insurance, said in a recent interview with the magazine that, while she hasn’t personally seen a dog patient yet who’s swallowed a mask, the likelihood of a dog doing this is high.

“I’ve seen many cases where dogs swallow a rock, socks, or toys,” Dr. Wooten says. “To a curious pup, a mask may seem like a tasty treat that smells like their favorite human, which can be very enticing to them.”

So what should you do if you suspect, as Nardick did, that a missing mask may have been consumed by your pup? First, know that any size or breed of dog is capable of ingesting foreign objects—but that younger dogs are at higher risk since they’re naturally more curious, Dr. Wooten says.

If you don’t witness your dog swallowing a mask, it can be hard to tell whether they’ve actually eaten one.

“It is easier than we realize for a dog to [eat a mask],” says Kerri Nelson, DVM, a veterinarian with Veterinary Emergency Group of Denver and expert with pet wellness brand Finn. “He might think he’s just chewing on it; then, accidentally gulps it down.”

Signs that may indicate your dog has unwittingly eaten a facial covering include lethargy; nausea; lip licking; vomiting; a hard, swollen, or sensitive abdomen; diarrhea; loss of appetite; or being more irritable than usual, Dr. Wooten says. And as silly as it sounds, if your dog has been in an area where you’re certain you left a mask and cannot find it, that’s a strong indicator your dog may have ingested it.

First, call your vet and let them know. They’ll ask about the size of your dog, the material of the mask, and the timeline to help you make a plan,  Angie Krause, a holistic veterinarian who works with pet food brand I and love and you, told Real Simple. They may ask you to watch and wait to see if your dog develops symptoms of an intestinal obstruction—such as nausea, vomiting and not eating—or recommend bringing your dog in to retrieve the mask via endoscopy.

Some vets may ask you to bring your dog in so they can induce emesis (vomiting) right away or ask you to do so at home. If the dog throws the mask back up, there will be no further issues, Dr. Nelson says. The best chance of this happening is if you take your dog to the vet within a couple hours of ingestion. Beyond that, the mask may have already moved into the small intestine, meaning vomiting it back up is no longer a possibility—at least most of the time, as it can vary dog to dog.

In Marvin’s case, his vet recommended he digest the mask, so they loaded him up with fluids and fiber to speed up the process. Afterward, he acted normal and happy—but after 48 hours, the mask still hadn’t appeared.

“It was assuring and alarming at the same time,” Nardick says, who began to doubt whether he’d eaten the mask at all. She kept in close contact with her vet and carefully monitored her pup’s bowel movements until, two days later, Marvin suddenly threw up the mask and went about his day.

He was fortunate the mask was a simple cotton one. If a dog ingests a mask with metal pieces, that’s cause for greater concern, says Natalie Marks, DVM, medical director at VCA Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago and a spokesperson for Royal Canin.

While vets will be able to see much more easily than cotton on an X-ray to determine whether a dog has in fact swallowed a mask, metal can cause abrasions, ulcerations, and even perforation in the digestive tract. In very serious cases, where a mask has been ingested days prior and is obstructing your dog’s intestines or has a metal piece perforating tissue, “we can have a life-threatening situation that requires surgery and intensive hospitalization,” Dr. Marks says.

Keep masks in a safe place, up high and out of reach of all pets, Dr. Nelson says —and make sure your kids do so, as well. If you’re making your own masks at home, be sure to do this in a separate room where pets do not go; cats have a predilection for swallowing string, so they can also be at risk for eating parts of a cloth mask in the making.

The old adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure holds true. The two trips Nardick made to the vet with Marvin cost her $320—all over a $5 cotton mask. Now, Nardick says they’re much more careful about where they leave masks and are creating a designated mask station high on a table.

Staying vigilant outside the home is also important, though. “I’m worried about all the masks [left behind] on the street when I walk him,” she says.

Research contact: @RealSimple

What a hoot! Tiny owl is rescued from boughs of Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in NYC

November 20, 2020

A tiny owl has become New York City’s Christmas miracle: The northern saw-whet owl—one of the smallest in North America—had stowed away in the boughs of a 75-foot Norway spruce that was trucked 170 miles from the upstate town of Oneonta to New York City to become this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, The New York Daily News reports.

He was found when the tree was unwrapped—and promptly captured the hearts of both the workers and pandemic-worn New Yorkers who were on the scene. But they immediately knew he should be brought back home. This was not a city bird.

That’s when  the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties, New York, was called into action. “Yesterday morning, I received a phone call from someone who asked if we take in owls for rehabilitation,” wrote the rehab center’s Director and Founder Ellen Kalish on Facebook Tuesday, November 16.

“I replied, ‘yes we do.’ There was silence for a moment and then she said ‘OK, I’ll call back when my husband comes home, he’s got the baby owl in a box tucked in for the long ride,’” she wrote.

The female caller’s husband worked for the company that transported the world-famous tree to Manhattan, and realized the feathered fowl had carpooled to the city from the tree’s home in Oneonta.

Kalish and the woman met up about half an hour south of the rehab facility to transfer the bird. After a few days of feast and drink at the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center, the owl—now aptly named “Rockefeller,” according to the Daily News’ report—will be released to the wintery wild.

“So far so good, his eyes are bright and seems relatively in good condition with all he’s been through. Once he checks in with the vet and gets a clean bill of health, he’ll be released to continue on his wild and wonderful journey,” Kalish wrote.

Research contact: @NYDailyNews

Photo finish: 33% of us are guilty of doing this to our exes, research shows

November 19, 2020

It’s human nature to want to rid yourself of any reminders of your ex after he or she is out of the picture. The thought of seeing you and your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend smiling in a picture together is often too much to bear. So, you take their photos down from your wall, donate the old sweatshirt they left in your drawer—and if you’re like many people, you delete any evidence of them from your social media profiles, as well, Best Life reports.

Dating app Plenty of Fish has just released its annual list of dating trends—and points out that this phenomenon is fairly common among daters, with more than one-third of people copping to it. In fact, there’s a word for it: sanitizing, which Plenty of Fish describes as “the act of wiping your social media of all photographic evidence of a past relationship.”

There are many reasons you may feel compelled to delete all traces of your ex from social media—and the following may be among them:

  • It helps you avoid those “Where’s your better half?” questions. If you want to avoid getting asked where your partner is all the time, deleting him or her from your social media can be a good way to send the message to others that you two are no longer together.
  • After a breakup, you enter a new chapter of your life, and with that shift, you may want to reinvent yourself a bit. Relationship expert and matchmaker Rori Sassoon tells Best Life that people are eager to “redo, restart, and reinvent themselves” after a relationship ends. “Once you break up, it’s not about the relationship anymore; it’s about you and your next chapter in life, which doesn’t include that other person.”
  • It’s cathartic. If you were in a toxic or abusive relationship, you’ll likely want to remove anything that will remind you of that experience. Indeed, deleting these images could even be therapeutic. Pressing ‘delete  on photo after photo, many of which are associated with painful memories, can feel cathartic and help you move on.
  • It helps you gain closure. Catching a glimpse of your ex every time you open an app could make it harder for you to move forward. Removing those photos allows you a symbolic fresh start. “Closure is an important part of the healing process to allow the person to move on,” marriage counselor Wyatt Fisher tells Best Life. “Part of what helps with closure is removing everything that reminds you of your ex, including all pictures of him or her on social media.”
  • It signals that you’re single and ready to mingle. If your Instagram is inundated with photos of you and your ex, it may impede on your ability to get back out there when you’re ready. Some people sanitize to make it clear on their profile that they’re single.

Research contact: @bestlife

Rocking the pandemic: Texas nature path becomes a wonderland of tiny stone paintings

November  18, 2020

Chris Penny figures that his mail carrier must have spectacular biceps by now. Most every day for the past seven months, when the carrier arrives at Penny’s home in Grapevine, Texas, he unloads a few heavy bins and hauls them, one by one, up the driveway to Penny’s front porch.

The boxes are filled with packages containing painted rocks—most of them intricate works of art, handmade and mailed from people all over the country, The Washington Post reports.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been sending them to Penny so that he and his family can place them along the Parr Park Rock Art Traila mile-long public walking path that has become a wonderland of more than 4,000 art rocks.

“These aren’t just any rocks;

Above, a wagon loaded with new rocks to be displayed along the rock trail. (Photo source Chris Penny)

they’re works of art,” said Penny, 44. “The other day, I had 11 big boxes to unpack in my living room. It’s incredible to see that people from all over are now painting rocks to turn my community into a trail of happiness.”

The rocks—painted to resemble everything from the Beatles to Mickey Mouse to a face mask—started arriving at Penny’s house ever since he bought a bunch on eBay after noticing a dozen painted rocks scattered along a nature trail in Parr Park. Penny said he knew right away that he wanted to flood the trail with them and make it a destination.

Penny learned that the colorful rocks he’d stumbled upon were painted by Ron Olsen and his three grown children in March, after Olsen returned from a trip to Iceland and discovered that Grapevine, a city of around 46,000 people, had practically become a ghost town due to the nationwide coronavirus shutdown.

Olsen said he wanted to do something for the community, so he gathered his family together on March 28 to paint a few rocks—including one covered with blue bonnet flowers and another decorated with balloons—and scatter them along his favorite trail in Parr Park.

Soon, he and Penny decided to join forces to transform the trail into an artsy attraction for anyone in Grapevine and beyond who wanted to escape the stress of COVID-19 for a while.

“We wanted to make it a getaway for people and give parents something safe to do outdoors with their children,” Olsen, 62, who works in Grapevine as a photographer and RV dealer, told the Post.

“Anyone can paint a rock,” he said. “And if you put hundreds and hundreds of them together, it really adds up to something amazing.”

Penny, who runs the nonprofit Broken Crayon, focused on helping women and children living in poverty in the United States and Ghana, said the project has provided his family with something fun and positive to do close to home during the pandemic.

In the early days in March, after he’d painted several dozen rocks with his daughters and bought dozens more online, Penny posted on Facebook, asking anyone who would like to contribute to the project to mail him their rocks and he’d pay for the shipping.

“I thought that a few people might want to pitch in, but I was stunned when I went to get my mail one day and found tons of rocks on the porch,” he said. “Pretty soon, we were the talk of the post office.”

For Lissa Critz, who visits the park regularly with her two children, told the post that the rock trail has provided some much-needed diversion from home schooling in Grapevine.

“It’s become like a game when we go to the park to locate all of the new rocks,” said Critz, 41. “The rocks are so well done and so much time and care has been put into the project. We love it.”

There are sections devoted to wildlife, teachers, health-care heroes, firefighters, Disney princesses, patriotism, movie stars, video games and travel, said Olsen, who visits the trail several days a week to photograph all of the new rocks and post them on the park’s Facebook page.

“Of course, we have a rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, and we also have a dog park,” said Olsen, adding that they have cat rocks but they haven’t yet made a “cat park.”

“I guess we’d better get busy on that,” he added.

 

Research contact: @washingtonpost

The new ‘Donald J. Trump Presidential Library’ is fake news for his detractors to love

November 17, 2020

It’s been tough for anyone to get an up-close and personal look at presidential history during 2020. From FDR’s family home in Hyde Park, New York, to Ronald Reagan’s commemorative exhibition space in Simi Valley, California, all 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sadly, for folks who like to absorb history in person, we’ll likely see fewer brick-and-mortar presidential libraries in the future, Forbes reports. Four years since the 44th president left office, the all-digital Barack Obama Presidential Library isn’t fully open yet. And, while it takes a lot of time to digitize hundreds of thousands of records, NARA supports the digital model chosen by Obama going forward.

Now, considering his reluctance to read, you wouldn’t think that President Donald Trump’s first priority would be a library for posterity. But search the internet for Donald Trump Presidential Library and you will find a shiny new website already achieving killer first-page ranking on Google, Forbes says.

What’s more, this slick operation has a communications team that churns out press releases and thousands follow the DJT Library on Twitter.

Sleekly rendered in WordPress using the classy Musea theme, with an elegant gray Garamond typeface and all-white backdrop, djtrumplibrary.com looks and feels like many beautiful museum portals. That is, until you start poking around.

The website invites Americans to explore the COVID Memorial, where a quiet reflecting pool lets visitors “mourn the thousands dead under his lack of leadership.” Oh.

Decorated with “Make America Great Again” signs and Confederate flags, the Alt-Right Auditorium is hosting a movie series including Nazi propaganda and Birth of a Nation. “A silent film which represents the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as a heroic force necessary to preserve American values and a white supremacist social order,” touts the site, along with a special promo: “2 for 1 tickets available for White Supremacy Wednesday!”

Yes, folks, it’s a hoax —and a rather elaborate, painstaking one at that.

While the project began as the brainchild of a small New York City architecture practice that wishes to remain anonymous, the team quickly “gained an army of curators, writers, designers, and general trouble-makers,” according to the site’s FAQ page.

The Felons Lounge is a shrine to Trump’s indicted cohorts, Forbes informs us.

As satirical spoof sites go, this is top of the line, chock full of custom artwork and clever Easter eggs. Take the library’s physical address at 1 MAGA Lane in Nogales, Arizona. The street is fictional, of course, but Nogales is a real border city that’s been central to Trump’s “build the wall” promise.

And check out the price of admission. Kids and students are free, while there’s a three-tiered structure for adults: $10 for seniors, $25 for U.S. citizens and $50 for immigrants.

Presidential libraries are known for museum-quality exhibits that show off their respective administrations’ accomplishments. Think John F. Kennedy’s Space Program Exhibit, LBJ’s Social Justice Gallery and Reagan’s Berlin Wall Exhibit.

At the faux Donald J. Trump Presidential Library website, permanent exhibits include Tax Evasion 101, where letters spelling “tax paid $750” rise from the floor in bas-relief. There’s a Twitter gallery, of course, as well as a Wall of Criminality that draws lines from Trump to some of his numerous alleged misdeeds.

No doubt, Trump critics will enjoy taking this unflattering virtual tour of his presidency. But while the site is layered with plenty of snark, its take-away is somehow not gleeful, Forbes notes.

For a reminder of why so few Americans are traveling these days, head to the rooftop COVID Cemetery, where an old tweet from Trump supporter Herman Cain, who died of Covid-19, has been blown up to billboard size. It reads, “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.”

Research contact: @Forbes

 

They ‘were on a break,’ but Friends reunion episode will film in March

November 16, 2020

After months of delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the hotly anticipated reunion episode of Friends—the popular sitcom that aired from 1994 through 2004 and jump-started the careers of Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer—is due to start filming in March 2021.

Matthew Perry, better known as Chandler Bing on the series, made the announcement on Twitter on November 12, saying “Friends reunion being rescheduled for the beginning of March. Looks like we have a busy year coming up. And that’s the way we like it!”

Ben Winston will direct the special and executive produce alongside Friends executive producers Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman, and David Crane. Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and Fulwell 73 Productions are behind the program. Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer also are executive producing the special, with Emma Conway and James Longman on board as co-executive producers.

Research contact: @Variety

Facebook joke about putting an Elf on the Shelf into quarantine goes viral: ‘Brilliant’

November 13, 2020

Parenting during the pandemic is no easy feat, so many adults are adopting an hilarious idea for checking one time-consuming chore off their holiday to-do lists: They are sending the Elf on the Shelf into quarantine.

The popular Christmas toy—which parents secretly rotate around the house in the days before December 25—comes with a book instructing little ones to be on their best behavior during the Christmas season, as the elf is “watching” to report back to Santa Claus.

According to a report by Fox News, although youngsters seem to love the tradition, parents say that shifting the elf around every day eventually becomes a hassle—inspiring a practical hack to make life easier and maintain the Christmas magic this year.

“ELF ON THE SHELF will need to quarantine for 14 days after his trip from the North Pole!” Facebook user Hilary Soria recently joked, sharing a photo the elf doll wearing a face mask in a snow globe-like mason jar. The toy was armed to fight COVID-19 with miniature bottles of hand sanitizer and Lysol.

“This should help you mamas!!” Soria said, and others seemed to agree: The post has been celebrated with over 373,000 shares and 12,000 comments.

“Definitely using this one,” one said of the advice.

“I’m very tempted to do this” another echoed.

“Brilliant, I thought maybe he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the North Pole this year,” one teased.

Elf on the Shelf co-founder Chanda Bell told Fox Business last year that over 13 million “Elf on the Shelf” products had been sold to date, tapping a target market of “true believers” who are anywhere from age 2 to 11 years old.

Research contact: @FoxNews

 

‘Diviner’ inspiration: Australian artist covers silos with large-scale mural

November 12, 2020

When artist Fintan Magee was asked to paint a mural on a trio of 40-meter (131 foot)-high grain silos in the small Australian town of Barraba, he decided against an archetypal image of sheep and cattle, Reuters reports.

Instead he painted a water diviner, paying tribute to a practice still used in parts of Australia where proponents believe they can find ground water with two metal rods or, as pictured in the mural, sticks.

Painted last year, it is one of dozens of large-scale murals to appear across rural Australia, turning sides of buildings, water tanks and old grain silos into striking canvasses.

“Painting walls is a bit like surfing, every wave is different, every wall is different. That’s the biggest challenge for me,” Magee told Reuters from his art studio in Sydney’s inner-western suburbs.

“Scaling and the technical things are just part of the job now.”

Many of the works were painted during a long drought that devastated communities and led to widespread water restrictions in such agricultural towns as Barraba in central New South Wales.

Magee said that during a research trip he saw a diviner working with water bore drillers during the drought, which only started to ease early this year.

While broadly considered street art, the sheer size of the murals makes them a phenomenon of their own.

“It wasn’t really until the last three or four years that projects have been growing bigger and bigger—more stuff happening in Sydney and Melbourne and also the silo thing has exploded,” said Magee.

The size has one great advantage over other forms of art: It’s almost impossible for passersby not to take it in.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous – it wasn’t here last time we came through,” said Cathy Skinner, one of several people who stopped at the Barraba mural when Reuters visited last week.

“I think he looks like Prince Harry, I think he’s wonderful,” Skinner said of the water diviner.

Research contact: @Reuters

‘Tressing’ for success: 2020 Kids Mullet Championships winner crowned

November 11, 2020

With business in the front and party in the back, the results of this election are something we can all agree on. The Kids Mullet Championships has crowned an inaugural winner, announcing that an eight-year-old boy from Texas has the most marvelous mane among the pint-sized competitors, Fox News reports.

Jax recently first prize among babies and boys (ranging in age from one to 14) for his classic “Curly Mullet” tresses, the USA Mullet Championships noted. The contest went viral in September—with over 20,000 votes and 50,000 social media reactions across Facebook and Instagram.

With his victory, the young Texan won a $500 cash prize and gift card package to businesses in Fenton, Michigan, where the contest is headquartered. Second-place winner Noah, 12, from Illinois, and third-place winner Jude, 7, from Colorado, each will receive smaller bundles of cash and some swag, too.

Kevin Begola, president of the USA Mullet Championships, speculated that Texas voters went wild for the third grader’s toothy grin—pushing him to first place on the podium.

“Jax is the man! He is a little guy that has 100% accepted the mullet lifestyle and was rocking the hairstyle well before we did this contest,” Begola told Fox News on Tuesday. “His smile and missing teeth might have put him over the edge.”

Although he’s cool with his overnight fame, Jax endearingly can’t sign autographs “because he doesn’t know cursive yet,” the organizer added.

The USA Mullet Championships began with an adult competition earlier this year, and the kids edition followed soon after. According to Begola, “This contest was just what 2020 needed! It was fun and brought back a lot of memories for people who lived through the ’80s,” he explained. “Life has been pretty hectic around the world for most people this year and the mullet lifestyle really makes people smile.

“When many states shut down, it only meant that haircuts were not happening and we figured it would be a great time to compete for the best mullets in all the land!”

Research contact: @FoxNews