Saturday, May 30, 2015

He Decided To Make The Most Of His Dog's Last Days, So They Took A Road Trip

Meet Poh the dog: an adventurous pup who won't let a terminal diagnosis stop him from enjoying everything life has to offer.

When owner Thomas Neil Rodriguez heard the grim news, he decided to take his best bud on a road trip across the United States. Starting in their hometown of New York City and joined by Rodriguez's fiancee, the trio hit the road with the hope of making it all the way to California so Poh could dip his paws in the Pacific Ocean.

All packed up and ready to go!

One of the hound dog's first stops: Elvis Presley's old digs.

Making a new friend with Oklahoma's state animal, the buffalo.

Checking out the graffitied cars at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.

Poh's review of In-N-Out: "I'm 15 years old, and I've only just begun my life today."

Poh's parents, chilling with him here in Arizona, actually prepared him a special meal of rice and chicken or turkey every day to help him build up his appetite and strength.

The trip wasn't always easy for the little family: cleaning up messes, using an IV to give him meds, and carrying him when he got tired.

But that stuff never got in the way of appreciating his sweet face as the adventure continued.

Taking in the vista of Cathedral Rock in Arizona.

Finally making it all the way to the beaches of California!

Feeling the fresh sand between his paws.

"Me want seafood!"

"Another great place to take a nap."

Thinking about going all the way to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle.

You can't deny this cutie has lots of star power!

Putting on his "tough guy" face at the Alamo on their way back across the states.

"Hitting Bourbon Street! I hope I remember everything in the morning!!"

Dreaming about rolling around in the presidential grass in Washington, D.C.

Back home to NYC!

But that doesn't mean he's reached the end of his adventure quite yet.

The seven week trip seems to have done the old pup a lot of good. His appetite has gotten much better and he's put a little extra weight on. Rodriguez hopes to see Poh make it to his 16th birthday this October. You can find more photos from their adventure and follow along for more on his Instagram page.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

How Art Is Helping Catch Criminals, Thanks To This Amazing Woman

When a crime is committed, sometimes all authorities have to go on are witness testimonies. Witnesses are often frightened, confused, and unsure of what's even happened- and understandably so. But they're essential in providing descriptions of the suspects, and sometimes even those hazy, frantic memories are enough to catch the perpetrators. That's where renowned forensic artist Lois Gibson steps in.

Some of Gibson's cases seemed impossible from the start, like this one. The suspect was seen in a car traveling about 40 miles per hour and was seen for only a second. This sketch helped locate him.

Gibson has always been interested in art, and by her own account, has been drawing since before she could walk. She ended up taking her degree in Fine Arts at the University of Texas in Austin. Her interest in criminal justice, however, didn't happen until tragedy struck. When she was 21, Gibson was attacked in her home by a violent serial rapist. He left her with severe physical injuries and even deeper psychological wounds.

After recovering- at least in part- from the horrific attack, Gibson started working as a portrait artist for tourists in San Antonio. She estimates that during her time there, she did some 3,000 portraits, and gained the practice she would need later for creating detailed, unique sketches on the fly. "I can draw anybody," she says.

This suspect was also seen for just a second, but it's amazing what people can remember in a short amount of time.

It wasn't until she relocated to Houston that she considered using her skills for catching criminals. Knowing first-hand what it was like to want justice, she presented her skills to the local police force and asked for a job. She was turned down.

"It's pretty hard to convince a room full of cops who don't want to do something," she says. It ended up taking her seven years to convince them to hire her full time. She managed to get her foot in the door when she impressed the station with an exact rendering of a suspect from memory. With Gibson providing composite sketches, the Houston police experienced a 30% increase in successful arrests. "They couldn't argue with the facts," she says. After that, she was hired.

This sketch was created with the help of a woman whose ten-hour-old baby was kidnapped from a hospital room. The woman was identified within hours.

So how does forensic sketching work? The first and most important thing, Gibson says, is to relax the witness, as they're usually quite shaken up. Gibson often speaks freely about her own attack with witnesses, which makes them feel less alone. "I can say, 'I can't know exactly what you're going through, but I have a pretty good idea," she explains.

Once the witness is relaxed, they use a massive catalogue of individual facial features to create a composite that most closely resembles the perpetrator. The witness picks out individual eyes, noses, mouths, chins, hair, and Gibson puts them together. All necessary tweaks are made and then the image is released to the public.

Even injured or incapacitated witnesses can help generate a surprisingly accurate image. This suspect was rendered with the help of a witness who'd been shot. Shockingly, the victim doesn't even remember giving the description.

This suspect was caught after the witness described him, despite the fact that she'd been shot 15 times and lost an eye.

Some cases hit harder than others, like 2007's "Baby Grace" tragedy.

In this case, the remains of a two-year-old were found in Galveston Bay, Texas. Gibson went to the morgue to examine the body and create a sketch of what she might have looked like in life. It was a heartrending experience, but Gibson's sketch helped identify the little girl- and catch her killers. 

In the face of all this violence and tragedy, you might think that the joy has been sucked out of art for Gibson. But that's not the case. Creating portraits for tourists taught Gibson to appreciate human faces, and that still holds true today.

"It makes you fall in love with people," she says. "Isn't that weird? I work with the worst people." But she still finds most people to be beautiful, and has a deeper appreciation for the little features and quirks in their faces. Helping victims of crimes adds an even greater dimension to her work. "It makes you fall in love with the witnesses and their strength, their drive to stay alive and get justice," she says.

Not all of Gibson's cases deal with crime and tragedy, though! Gibson, along with several other investigators, helped identify the sailor in this iconic picture as Glenn Edward McDuffle after 60 years of mystery.

Gibson studied the similarities of McDuffle's pose and body shape and helped determine that he was, in fact, the mysterious sailor. The nurse was identified separately as Edith Shain.

Besides continuing to work in the field, Gibson is also sharing her skills with a new generation of artists. There are currently only 26 full-time forensic artists in the country, she says, and she'd like to see that number increase. She also says that with the advent of facial recognition technology, forensic sketching will be even more valuable in identifying suspects, and will open up opportunities for many artists in the future.

If you're in the Houston area and would like to know more about forensic art, check out her upcoming classes that will be held in the city between October 26 and 30, 2015. You can also check out some of the many books she's written on Amazon.

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This Dog Faced Unimaginable Cruelty, But She Was Rescued By An Amazing Team

Warning: the following story contains graphic images.

Anyone who works with abused animals, like Charleston Animal Society Director of Anti-Cruelty Aldwin Roman, has seen some pretty sickening displays in their time. Yet this case shocked even him. Roman called it "the most malicious case of animal abuse" he'd seen in his entire career.

The case is that of Caitlyn, a 15-month-old chocolate staffie mix found in North Charleston, South Carolina. Caitlyn was found with electrical tape wrapped so tightly around her muzzle that her tongue was caught between her teeth. The tape had also caused multiple wounds on her flesh.

This is Caitlyn right after the tape was removed. Her tongue, seen protruding from her mouth, may have to be partially amputated.

Caitlyn was a well-known, friendly stray in the area. However, some heartless individual apparently saw her as a target, and taped her muzzle shut in a show of abject cruelty. She was found on a doorstep on May 27 with the tape around her muzzle, and she may have been in extreme pain, and unable to eat or drink.

Caitlyn gets examined by one of the Animal Society's team members.

The tape was removed, but caused severe swelling and may leave lasting damage. Her tongue, caught between her teeth, lost blood and may have to be partially removed if the tissue dies. Caitlyn may also have permanent facial disfiguration, and any dead tissue can lead to serious complications.

"To leave a dog in pain, unable to eat or drink and to now leave her in the position where her life is at stake because she may lose her tongue, is heartbreaking," Roman says.

Aldiwn Roman, Director of Anti-Cruelty at the Animal Society, visits with Caitlyn.

Her face is swollen, but she's doing okay!

The creep who did this to Caitlyn is currently at large, but Animal Society is offering up to $1,000 in reward for any information that leads to their capture. If caught, the perpetrator faces a $5,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.

Luckily, Caitlyn is recovering. She has a long road ahead of her, but she's doing very well for the extremity of her condition.

She's not out of the woods yet, but with diligent care, everyone is hoping for her recovery.
If you'd like to help Caitlyn, as well as other dogs who need medical care, you can make donations to the Animal Society on their Facebook page. So far, donations have poured in from all over the world, which has helped Caitlyn immensely.

Sadly, many other animals face abuse, neglect, and cruelty every day. If you see or suspect animal abuse, check out these pages from the ASPCA and the Humane Society on how to spot and report cases.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

These Creepy But Effective Photos Will Make You Look At Hands In A Whole New Way

These Creepy Photos Are Simple, But Evoke Some Pretty Deep Feelings

At first glance, these look pretty standard portraits. They show closeups of men on dark backgrounds that are dramatically lit from above. But if you look closely enough, you'll see it. 
Conceptualized by illustrator and designer Babak Hosseiny and realized by photographer Jeffrey Vanhoutte, the series O les mains takes the human body and turns it into its own uncomfortable narrative.

The series sees its subjects' hands attached to various places on their bodies, reaching out with their fingers as though they have minds of their own. Sometimes they seem to hinder the person and sometimes they seem like natural appendages. Every one of them, though, looks like a gesture- they are hands after all. They illuminate the mood and mindset of each subject.

The project was created by Hosseiny, who was inspired after reading the opening quote from Ludwig Wittgenstein's On Certainty: "If you do know that here is one hand, we'll grant you all the rest."

According to Hosseiny, it was a quote that spurred the creation of the series. He says that he, "imagined a series of drawings of situations where hands are no longer only hands, but become the physical embodiments of the obstacles, wishes, or fears of the individual."

You can see more work by these two artists on Vanhoutten's website and Hosseiny's Behance page. You can also find some behind-the-scenes images that'll show you how these effects were achieved (some images are NSFW, so beware).

Boy Recovering From An Injury Gets A Surprise Visit From An Unlikely Friend

When Tristan was recovering at the hospital from a traumatic brain injury, he received a visit from a very special four-legged therapy animal- a pony named Logan.

Watch as Logan gives Tristan tiny little kisses on his feet and rubs his head against him. He does this while the little boy seems in a trance at the sight of the friendly visitor. It's definitely not something you see every day, and is sure to bring the biggest smile to your face.

I've seen plenty of therapy dogs and even therapy cats, but never a pony. Research has proven that animals can have a supportive, healing effect on people. After seeing Logan here, I'm more convinced of his healing powers, and hope he helps the little guy get well soon.


These 20 Facts About You Are Pretty Strange, But Also Fascinating

You probably know yourself pretty well, but how well do you know yourself? After all, there are millions of everyday things happening in your body that are just too strange to fathom.

Thankfully, we found 20 facts about yourself that you've probably never heard before. Some might be a little morbid, but others are quite fascinating. You won't truly know yourself until you learn these!

1. The average human spends about a third of their life asleep.

That's about 25 to 30 years asleep. And you still feel tired, right?

2. The average human needs at least seven hours of sleep a night.

All that sleep is good for you. Any less can have negative effects on your health, and even reduce life expectancy. Get some sleep!

3. On average, a human will yawn about 250,000 times in their life.

Just looking at this picture is making you yawn, isn't it?

4. The average human produces about 25,000 quarts of saliva in their life.

Or enough to fill swimming pools. But don't think about that for too long, because it's gross.

5. A human brain can, in the course of a lifetime, store up to a quadrillion separate bits of information in its longterm memory.

6. The average American spends about five months of their life on the phone.

No Data for how much time they spend playing Angry Birds.

7. The chance for a man in the U.S. to get cancer is 50%.

Don't smoke, guys.

8. In a lifetime, your skin will completely replace itself 900 times.

You should still use sunblock, though.

9. According to one survey, men can spend up to a year of their lives staring at women.

And another several years complaining that staring bug-eyed at women is somehow not landing them dates.

10. On average, women spend about four years of their lives menstruating.

This is probably the most accurate picture of experience.

11. According to another survey, women spend about a year of their lives deciding what to wear.

Pro tip: pick out your clothes the night before.

12. A British woman, on average, spends the equivalent of $160,000 on makeup in her lifetime.

That's a lot.

13. The average man will spend about six months of his life shaving.

No-shave November notwithstanding.

14. In your lifetime, you'll consume about 35 tons of food.

Yes, tons. Of course, 35 tons of salad is better than 35 tons of fast food.

15. You'll spend about three months of your life sitting on the potty.

All of that food has to end up somewhere.

16. 183,755,600 is a pretty large number, and it's the average number of steps a person will take in their life.

You can do this without even realizing it!

17. Those steps all add up to measure about 75,000 miles.

That's enough to walk around the Earth several times, and it's how much the average person will walk in a lifetime.

18. Sitting for more than three hours a day is not good for you, and can lead to health issues.

So all that walking is doing you good!

19. On average, regular joggers live about six years longer than non-joggers.

Just don't get hit by a car. That will undo the "extra six years" bit.

20. The average person spends two weeks of their life kissing.

I feel like we could increase the kissing and cut down on deciding what to wear, honestly. So the next time you take a walk, eat some food, or kiss someone good night, think about these strange averages humanity has racked up. It might make you consider things differently!