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Features (Creature Feature)

Training makes a happier fellow

Optimus Prime was a playful, high-energy puppy when Sergeant Gregory ‘GJ’ Tomas Jr. received orders deploying him to Afghanistan for a second tour with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.
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It took a village to make Zoe mobile

Zoe is a spunky three-year old French bulldog. At home, her paralyzed back legs were no problem as she scooted over carpet. Top-heavy by nature, she bulked up by pulling herself with her shoulders.
    But on vacation at Stay Pet Resort in Hanover, she was grounded on slippery concrete. She wanted to play with the other dogs but was stuck watching the action from the sidelines. Until she got fixed up with a new set of wheels.
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Don’t count your ducklings before they’re hatched

Over Memorial Day weekend, the egg appeared on a seat in my cockpit.
    Clearly a boating friend was playing a practical joke on me. He must have come across a greyish-green egg as he was making breakfast and decided the obvious thing to do was leave it on the boat where my daughter and I make our home.
    Not to be bested, I imagined a whirlwind of revenge pranks.
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Cats (and dogs) in black (and white)

“It’s kitten season.” So writes kitten foster mother Cathryn Freeburger of Prince Frederick. “I have a houseful, as every foster does, and every rescue group is overwhelmed with calls.”
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Canine Companions for Independence are half dog, half angel

Walking through downtown Annapolis, you may have seen puppies training to be service dogs. They seem special, with their colorful vests and ability to go into stores.
    They are working to be selected for a special job, one that — in the words of Nancy Patterson who is part of a human-dog team — allows a “person to return to or begin a life of independence.”
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Help scientists track these invasive fish

What’s big, blue and whiskered and doesn’t belong in the Chesapeake?
    If you guessed blue catfish, you’re right.
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Grab your binoculars and start spotting

Cardinals devouring holly berries; nuthatches scooting down sweet gums; tundra swans hooting on the Bay. Get ready to count them all during the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 14 through 17.
    Citizen scientists all over the world count birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in conjunction with the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada. Developed over the four-day period is an annual snapshot of bird population trends.
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Hunger and adventure bring seals to our warm waters

Seals aren’t an everyday sighting in Chesapeake Country. So if you happen to spot one lounging on a regional beach, you’ve reason to be impressed.
    If you haven’t seen one yet, keep looking, the experts say.
    “Seals are natural visitors,” reports Jennifer Dittmar, manager of animal rescue at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
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Calvert Marine Museum adds ­invader to teach about ­climate change

The lionfish invasion of Caribbean and southeastern U.S. is coming our way. When Calvert Marine Museum reopens this spring, a lionfish aquarium will show us a 360-degree view of the spiny, brightly colored invader.
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Even fur coats can’t keep pets warm

Baby, it’s cold outside. These record low temperatures are hard on all of us, people and pets. Puppies, kittens and shorthaired animals are especially vulnerable in cold weather.
    Keep your pets inside except for quick bathroom breaks. Both dogs and cats can get frostbite. Ears, tails and footpads are most susceptible.
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