California's Barkingham Hotel for Dogs Offers Plush Beds, Gourmet Food, and Pet Pilates

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iStock

The next time you take a vacation, why not give your dog one, too? As Travel+Leisure reports, the Barkingham Pet Hotel in Palm Desert, California, is just as luxurious as any Four Seasons or Park Hyatt resort—at least by canine standards.

As a high-end alternative to traditional boarding kennels, Barkingham gives furry guests the chance to stay in their own private suite replete with double beds and live webcams, should customers want to check in and see how their pet is doing. However, more modest arrangements, like “mini” and “junior” suites with a traditional dog bed on the floor, are also available.

"We believe your pets deserve as great a vacation as you do," owner Lori Weiner tells Mental Floss. "We pamper them the same as would a human hotel."

A double bed and mini couch inside one of the bedrooms
Barkingham Pet Hotel

Beyond the plush sleeping arrangements, pampered pets will also eat like royalty, with menu items including Greek yogurt parfait for breakfast and turkey “muttloaf” for dinner. A range of desserts, such as “corgi cannolis” and “pumpkin and cranberry delight”—all free of wheat, soy, and corn, naturally—are also on offer.

After eating to their heart’s content, dogs can hit the gym and shed some calories on the treadmill or in the pool. There’s also a “pawlates” class, which is described as “a core strengthening and muscle conditioning program” for active and arthritic dogs alike.

Traditional grooming services can all be booked at Barkingham, as well as more unconventional pampering packages like mud baths, skin treatments, and even massages. For $70, dogs can receive a “raindrop technique” massage, which uses essential oils to achieve "energy alignment" and stress relief.

Luxurious pet hotels are a growing trend, not just in California but nationwide. Florida’s Chateau Poochie offers movie nights and blueberry facials, and the New York City branch of the D Pet Hotel chain sends a chauffeur to pick up your pooch in a Ferrari, Porsche, or other luxury car of your choice. After all, you wouldn't want your Princess seen in a Prius, would you? 

[h/t Travel+Leisure]

Fossilized Fat Shows 550-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature May Have Been the World's First Animal

Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University
Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University

A bizarre sea creature whose fossils look like a cross between a leaf and a fingerprint may be Earth's oldest known animal, dating back 558 million years.

As New Scientist reports, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) made a fortunate find in a remote region of Russia: a Dickinsonia fossil with fat molecules still attached. These odd, oval-shaped creatures were soft-bodied, had rib structures running down their sides, and grew about 4.5 feet long. They were as “strange as life on another planet,” researchers wrote in the abstract of a new paper published in the journal Science.

Another variety of fossil
Ilya Bobrovskiy, the Australian National University

Although Dickinsonia fossils were first discovered in South Australia in 1946, researchers lacked the organic matter needed to classify this creature. "Scientists have been fighting for more than 75 years over what Dickinsonia and other bizarre fossils of the Edicaran biota were: giant single-celled amoeba, lichen, failed experiments of evolution, or the earliest animals on Earth,” senior author Jochen Brocks, an associate professor at ANU, said in a statement.

With the discovery of cholesterol molecules—which are found in almost all animals, but not in other organisms like bacteria and amoebas—scientists can say that Dickinsonia were animals. The creatures swam the seas during the Ediacaran Period, 635 million to 542 million years ago. More complex organisms like mollusks, worms, and sponges didn’t emerge until 20 million years later.

The fossil with fat molecules was found on cliffs near the White Sea in an area of northwest Russia that was so remote that researchers had to take a helicopter to get there. Collecting the samples was a death-defying feat, too.

“I had to hang over the edge of a cliff on ropes and dig out huge blocks of sandstone, throw them down, wash the sandstone, and repeat this process until I found the fossils I was after,” lead author Ilya Bobrovskiy of ANU said. Considering that this find could change our understanding of Earth’s earliest life forms, it seems the risk was worth it.

[h/t New Scientist]

Cats Take Turns Napping With the 75-Year-Old Star Volunteer at This Animal Shelter

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iStock

The star volunteer at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Wisconsin doesn't have to do much to make a cat's day. According to Huffington Post, Terry Lauerman, a 75-year-old from Green Bay, visits his local shelter every day to take a cat nap with the residents.

Safe Haven is a cage-free, no-kill animal shelter that gives a home to special needs cats at risk of being put down. When Lauerman first showed up at Safe Haven earlier this year, he didn't talk to the shelter employees about becoming a volunteer—instead, he waltzed in and started grooming the cats with a brush he had brought himself. After this continued for a while, the shelter decided to make his volunteer status official.

Lauerman has since settled into a daily routine. After brushing the cats, he tends to fall asleep with them, and after an hour or so he wakes up and finds a different cat to nod off with. Safe Haven recently shared his story on their Facebook page: "We are so lucky to have a human like Terry," the post reads. "He brushes all of the cats, and can tell you about all of their likes and dislikes. He also accidentally falls asleep most days. We don't mind—Cats need this!"

The post has since been liked by over 68,000 people and shared more than 18,000 times. Safe Haven wrote in the comments, "When Terry comes in today, I'm going to have to tell him that he's famous. I can almost guarantee he'll just laugh and say "Oh, really?"...shake his head...and then go back to brushing cats." Lauerman is also encouraging fans of the viral post to show their appreciation by donating to the shelter, which ends up with more medical bills than many shelters that don't have cats with disabilities. You can contribute cash here or make a donation through the shelter's Amazon wish list.

[h/t Huffington Post]

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