The remaining days of 2015 are ticking away and end-of-year opining is upon us — about world events, political gaffes, the best fashion faux pas of the last 365 days.
We'd like to reflect on a more underserved population: the animals.
Here are six that found fame this year, mostly on accident and with the help of the World Wide Web.
He's the only horse on our list, and for good reason: He paints. Jacob, a member of the St. Petersburg Police Department's two-horse mounted unit, revealed his artistic sensibilities to the world in a news conference in April, upgrading from plain old normal horse to "equi-pressionist."
What started as a horrifying act of animal abuse — the pit bull mix was shot twice in the neck and then tied to train tracks — ended on a heartwarming note. The Tampa police officers who rescued the dog named her Cabela. People from across the state offered toys and monetary donations. The 2-year old pup was adopted. And authorities arrested the people they say were responsible for hurting her.
The 12-year-old dog named Angel had been at the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor for nearly six months, waiting to be adopted. So the shelter volunteers made her a bucket list, with items like "be a first mate on a boat ride" and "eat a grilled grouper sandwich." But only one item, still unaccomplished, really mattered. No. 50: "Find a forever home."
When the 9-year-old bottlenose dolphin was first spotted sluggishly swimming through John's Pass, nobody knew she had a history. Babyface, a name NOAA officials later learned, had deep lacerations on her back, likely caused by a boat propeller. Authorities were flooded with hundreds of concerned calls from people who watched for weeks as the maimed dolphin swam by. Nobody thought she would live, then she did.
Louis wasn't the only animal to elude her owners this year, but she might have been the cutest. Porky, pink and pot-bellied, Louis wandered through a Clearwater neighborhood, through flower beds and onto porches, until animal control officers coaxed her into captivity. The Internet rallied for Louis, spreading the news that a pig with toenails coated in pink polish was on the run. Within a day, she was back home.
Some creatures don't find fame until after they're dead. Bart the Zombie Cat found fame after he rose from the dead. Five days after his owner dug him a shallow grave and laid him to rest inside, 1½-year-old Bart crawled back to life. He had a broken jaw and ruptured eye, injuries Bart's owner thought had been fatal. They weren't.
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Contact Katie Mettler at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.