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21 animal stories that made people smile in 2018

Posted: 12:36 AM, Dec 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-20 02:39:50-05

While it may not seem like it, 2018 was much more than a year of political division, natural disasters and celebrity deaths. It was also a year filled with heartwarming animal stories.

Here’s 21 of the best, most jovial animal tales to come out of 2018.

Zoe returns
After being stolen from her front yard in Denver, good dog Zoe, a then-7-month-old Shih Tzu, was returned safely after five days. The thief had been caught on camera and the video gained a lot of traction on social media.

Katherine Heigl rescues puppy mill dogs
Perhaps there is no better puppy comeback story than the Pomeranians who were rescued from a truck in Nevada . They had previously been at a puppy mill but were rescued and nursed back to health. A dozen of them, actually, were aided by actress Katherine Heigl’s nonprofit , The Jason Debus Heigl Foundation. And one even went home with her personally.

Jolene protects family from dangerous dog who looks a lot like Jolene
In 2018, a lot of videos went viral for terrible reasons. But Jolene broke the mold by going viral for all the right reasons. The adorable Labradoodle was flustered when she saw another dog in her home, and quickly tried to protect her family from the fluffy intruder. And she did a great job — never mind the fact that it was her own reflection .

Angus Woolley 2020
A dog tried to run for governor in Kansas . It didn’t pan out, but Angus Woolley sure did run a great campaign, even if it didn’t end with him being top dog.

Chimpanzee flies to better future
Rescued from poachers by Lwiro Primates, this chimpanzee was so eager to start the rest of his life, he helped the pilot fly home .

Bodhi: The dog with nine lives
Bodhi, a then 9-week-old Saint Bernard, was rescued after some quick thinking emergency responders helped the poor choking puppy .

Penguins ready their close-up
It’s not every day there’s a selfie that changes the world. But t hese emperor penguins totally nailed it . The curious birds in Antarctica stumbled across a camera and the video went viral (and also resulted in the most flipping cute selfie of 2018).

The cat who found his way home — 14 years later
If you’re looking for a reason to bawl, here it is: An orange tabby cat that got lost following Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 found his way home to his owner — 14 years later . Thomas Jr, or T2, may have been gone a long time, but he was warmly welcomed home by his owner. Maybe 2018 wasn’t the year of happy endings, but it at least gave people this one.

The steer who took a joy ride
Sometimes things happen that make you say “classic (insert state name here)” and that’s exactly what happened when a video of a steer taking a joy ride in Nebraska went viral.This video has so many layers of greatness: the steer, the cattle guard for a car door, the missing car roof. Well, just watch for yourself:

The goats who went a bridge too far
When two goats got stuck on a section of a Pennsylvania overpass , it really hammered home the insanity that was 2018. The goats were rescued and returned back to their owner, who probably gave them a stern lecture about not being such mischievous kids.

Stars and Stripes forever
A pair of eagles, named Stars and Stripes who take residence outside an Ohio elementary school, welcomed adorable little eaglets this year. It was both patriotic and fuzzy.

Honey goes from being a ham to being a svelte beagle
2018 was a great year for weight loss success stories, but the one that really warmed people’s hearts was the story of Honey, the severely overweight beagle who was in danger of being put down until her then foster mom (now her permanent dog mom) got her back to a healthy size. Honey baked ham of a beagle? Not so much anymore. Check out the before and after photos .

Come back, Jack
A 10-year-old Great Pyrenees in Tennessee found himself in a tight situation after he somehow found his way into a culvert near his home. But with the help of firefighters, animal control and construction workers from across the street, Jack was safely rescued.

Emotional support dog gets some new wheels
When a Las Vegas woman noticed her 10-year-old German shepherd, an emotional support dog, was having trouble walking, she turned to where most people do for help — social media. Within hours of posting to a nonprofit’s Facebook page, she secured a doggy wheelchair for her beloved Luna , finally being able to give back to the dog who had saved her so many times.

"I would walk 500 miles” - this dog, probably
Jake, a coonhound, wandered a long way from his Arizona home — more than 2,000 miles to be exact. If that isn’t impressive enough, the pup was then transported home by some kind strangers . Yep, 20 drivers took to the road for three nights (with lots of stops) and handed Jake off until he eventually got home. It was a classic “Homeward Bound”-esque tale with that special 2018 twist.

Service dog adds some paw-sengers to a flight
Travelers at Tampa International Airport were treated to some serious puppy love when a two-year-old labrador retriever went into labor. The service dog gave birth to eight glorious little paw-sengers with the help of Tampa Fire Rescue.

Talk about good Karma
Good boy? Nope, good Karma. When a dog named Karma took a dive over a cliff in Ohio , it was more than just luck that saved him. Firefighters rappelled down the cliff to rescue Karma, who luckily wasn’t injured. The good boy even smiled during the whole ordeal.

Puppies — what can’t they fix?
When an airline employee stole an airplane at a Seattle airport, it sent weary travelers into a panic. That’s when nine Spanish greyhound puppies on their way to Detroit stepped up and did what they do best — be cute. The dogs came out of their crate and offered some solace to worried travelers, turning a chaotic scene into one of comfort and fluff.

Bentley came home
After a car crash in the Colorado mountains killed a mother and severely injured her daughter, having their beloved golden-doodle run away made the tragedy all the more sad. But thanks to social media and lots of persistence, Bentley the dog found her way back to her family after 19 days. The video of the reunion got a lot of attention of Facebook.

Good ol’ science
When Patches, a very good 9-year-old dachshund, lost part of her skull to cancer, a team of Canadian university researchers stepped up to help. They removed a tumor growing on Patches’ skull and used 3D printing to replace the removed portion . Science is amazing.

Just some animals taking a bubble bath
And, of course, what better way to close out 2018 than a nice relaxing bubble bath? These hyenas sure had the time of their furry lives taking at a Milwaukee zoo .