A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

The Most Adorable Animal Stories in 2022

From alcoholic bears to cats on treadmills, why animals are seriously the best.

the most adorable animals of 2019
Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock

Cutest critters of the year

Novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder once wrote that “the best thing about animals is that they don’t talk much” but while he may have been technically correct we think animals actually have quite a lot to say—in their own way. Even better, everything they communicate is often hilarious and always adorable. Read on to see what these cute critters got up to this year. You’ll also want to check out these 12 incredible stories of animals acting just like humans.

Helper Dog Nala disney adorable animal stories
Courtesy @Helperdognala

Service dog helps Disney characters

Nala the service dog is an invaluable helper and friend to her owner, Megan Leigh, who trained the dog to help her with her autism and other health conditions. But Nala wasn’t content to just support Megan. The pair goes to Disney World several times a week where she’s well-known to the cast. In between riding the rides, she can be seen snuggling up to Donald Duck, Ariel the mermaid, Jack Sparrow, and other characters being played by actors in costumes. The pictures made absolutely everyone’s day. Oh, and yes, Nala is named after “The Lion King” lioness! Find out the most popular dog names for the most popular breeds.

the whale who was a spy

The whale who was a spy

Hvladimir, a Beluga whale, rocketed to fame when South African researchers found that he could play catch, as reported by The Guardian. How the whale, discovered off the coast of Norway, acquired such a, well, human skill is an even more interesting story. When he was found, Hvaldimir was wearing a Go-Pro camera on a harness imprinted with “property of St. Petersburg” causing people to surmise he was trained by Russia as part to be an underwater spy. Researchers are now trying to find a whale pod for him to live out his retirement with.

government house queensland dog
courtesy govehouse.qld.gov.au

Police dog gets a new job after being too nice

Gavel, a German shepherd was trained from puppy-hood to be a police dog, and his crime-fighting future seemed certain—until officers started taking him out in the field. The dog was super smart and good at the details of his job but he had one major “flaw.” He loved nothing more than to run up and greet strangers, all strangers, including criminals. So he was given a new job, as the Vice-Regal Dog for Queensland, Australia. He lives at the governor’s mansion and gives welcome tours to visitors, acting as a canine ambassador. Here’s what happens to service dogs when they retire.

James Middleton Dog on red carpet

James Middleton brings his support dog as his “date”

You don’t see a lot of dogs on the red carpet but Ella the cocker spaniel walked it in grand style. James Middleton—brother of princess Kate Middleton—brought Ella as his date to the GQ Men of the Year Awards in London. She wasn’t just there to look cute, however, she’s a trained therapy dog and Middleton has been very open about how she’s helped him with his depression. “I think I should win the award for the best date for the GQ Men of the Year Awards,” he said. We agree! Find out the real reason you shouldn’t pet service dogs.

bear in dumpster
Angel McNall Photography/Shutterstock

The things a bear will do for a good snack

It’s not just humans who find themselves in a predicament due to loving food a bit too much! T-Shirt the bear is known by California locals as being a pretty chill dude who likes to go through leftovers but the chubby bear took it to the next level when he was dumpster diving for a good meal and got stuck in the dumpster. Police were required to rescue the husky boy, a process he handled with his characteristic calm.

morris animal refuge Mr. B cat
Courtesy Morris Animal Refuge

Cat breaks the internet

“OMG, big boi Mr. B is a CHONK. He’s a chonk of a chonk. He redefines the term. Can you guess how much he weighs? More importantly, can you give him a home?” When the Morris Animal Refuge posted this message, alongside a picture of said Mr. B., they were unprepared for how viral the big boy would go. So many people were touched by the massive cat and wanted more information about adopting him that he crashed the shelter’s website. “Mr. B. apologizes for crashing our website. We have our team working to get it back up as we speak. Unfortunately, they’re all cats, so it may take a little while,” they wrote. Happily, he’s since found his forever home. If you’ve recently adopted a cat, make sure you know the 13 signs of a good pet sitter.

newton fire department saves raccoon
Courtesy Newton Fire Department

Baby raccoon makes a very human mistake

You’ve seen kids get their heads stuck in places they should never be? Well, it’s not just human children who misjudge an opening and become wedged by their ears, as shown by a baby raccoon found dangling from the underside of a storm grate. Her pathetic pleas caught the attention of a passerby who called the fire department. After trying everything to free her, they finally gave her a muscle relaxer and were able to slide her out. After two days of recovery, she’s back in the wild. “Although she probably has an extra-long neck,” joked one of her rescuers. Don’t miss the most amazing animal photos of 2018.

Courtesy @octolab_tv

Arnold the octopus and his beloved barrel

Arnold the octopus has a barrel. Arnold loves his barrel. Like really, really loves his barrel. Then one day his caretakers decided to give him a new fun box to play in as well. What did Arnold do? Well, for starters he broke off the bottom of a filtering device in his aquarium, wrestling it away from a researcher who retrieved it and then hiding it in his barrel. Then Arnold barricaded himself and the filter in the barrel with blocks and tiles. Apparently Arnold doesn’t like change, especially in his home—a feeling a lot of humans were relating to pretty hard!

floyd the mastiff
Courtesy Salt Lake County Sheriff's Search and Rescue

Pup demands to be packed out on a paladin

Some dogs love hiking. Not Floyd. The 190-pound mastiff decided halfway through a long hike in the mountains with his family that he was just done. Exhausted, he sat down on the trail and refused to move, no matter what his owners did. Finally, one person stayed with Floyd while the others hiked out to get help. Park rangers called in an emergency rescue team that carried him out on a litter. “He was just chill,” one of the rescuers said. “He knew he was getting carried out. He just laid there and enjoyed the ride.” Apparently mastiffs are known for just deciding they don’t want to use their legs anymore and many owners have commented on the Facebook post that this is why they always bring a wagon on walks. These 10 shelter dogs, on the other hand, rescued their owners.

abandoned calf
Courtesy Ron Sterbenz, YellowstoneVideo.com

Bison mom and baby have the happiest reunion

It started out like a nature documentary: A tourist in Yellowstone was videoing a bison giving birth. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when the cow walked away from her calf, leaving him stranded and alone on a road. Instead of intervening though, which could have been deadly for the calf, the tourist kept waiting and filming. After hours of watching the mama bison and her heard cross back and forth through the river looking for the little guy, finally, the two were reunited. If watching that calf’s happy little dance when he sees his mama come back for him doesn’t give you all the feels, we don’t know what will!

Courtesy Jill Hicks

Big cats are kitties too

Jill Hicks was driving home from work when she saw what she thought was a cat run towards the road. Worried that it was alone, she scooped up the little “kitten” and took her home, reports HuffPost. After making “Arwen” a cozy bed, she posted a picture on Facebook, asking if anyone would adopt the “bobtail kitten.” It didn’t take long before her neighbor helped her realize that it wasn’t just a kitten with a bobtail, it was actually a bobcat. “Thank the lord for her because I sure was about to put that baby in the sink and give it a bath and put it in bed with me!” Hicks joked on Facebook. Hicks took the soon-to-be-much-bigger kitty to a wildlife rescue who cared for her until she could be released into the wild.

cat on airplane cutest animals of 2019

The cat who snuck into first class

Cats need to be under 17 pounds to fly on the airline Aeroflot. Unfortunately, chunky boy Viktor weighed in at a hefty 22 pounds so the airline told his owner, Mikhail Galin, that he’d have to fly in the cargo hold, which isn’t very safe for animals. Desperate to get his feline friend on the flight, Galin devised an elaborate scheme, according to The Washington Post. He found a pet double for Viktor through Facebook and convinced that cat’s owner to bring Phoebe, a much svelter kitty, to the airport where he used her for the weigh-in before switching the cats back and sneaking Viktor on the plane. While the plan worked, when officials discovered the trickery on social media, they stripped Galin of his frequent flyer miles. Viktor was worth it, he says. Flying with pets? Here are the 10 best airlines for traveling with your furry friend.

Mature Red Deer Stag with Big Antlers
Sergej Razvodovskij/Shutterstock

A deer who is a real dear

It almost sounds like the opening to a fairytale: A lonely old woman who lives in a secluded cabin in the woods is visited every day by a magnificent stag who rewards her for her unselfish deeds. But this is 100 percent real life! Mette Kvam, 81, of Norway, had recently suffered the loss of her husband and was trying to adjust to living alone when one day she noticed a deer at her window, according to Caters TV. She fed him a piece of bread and immediately a friendship was born. “Flippen” now comes to visit her daily. She makes sure to always keep his favorite bread on hand and he keeps her company. She says he has saved her from loneliness and she loves nothing more than to feed and visit with him. Jealous of this animal friendship?

Dog tail on wood floor

Narwhal the unicorn puppy

All puppies are adorable but Narwhal, a 10-week-old pup, has something that makes him extra cute: An extra tail… in the middle of his forehead, reports HuffPost. It doesn’t cause him any pain or disability but does give him a rather unicorn-like appearance. He’s currently in foster care but is reportedly fielding adoption offers from around the world. There are no plans to remove the bonus tail and, no, it doesn’t wag. Whether your dog has one tail or two, you’ll want to know the secrets it’s trying to tell you.

kitten with beautiful eyes , muzzle kitten closeup cat closeup on the blurry background

Kitty jailbreak

Quilty, a 6-year-old shelter cat, is as kind as he is smart. He learned how to “liberate” his fellow kitty compadres from their enclosures by opening the doors, a trick he did several times a day but particularly liked to do at night while shelter staff was gone. While the cats enjoyed their nighttime parties, the staff did not enjoy having to repeatedly wrestle all the cats. “Quilty will not be contained. And he has no shame,” the shelter wrote underneath an incriminating picture on its Facebook page. “Come meet him. Take him home. Please!” Good news: It appears that the rascally cat may have found his forever family. These 21 before and after cat adoption stories will melt your heart.

Close up big brown bear in spring forest
Volodymyr Burdiak/Shutterstock

This bear is the life of the party—the frat party, that is

Bears love human food, that’s no secret, but it turns out they love our beverages too, including the alcoholic ones, as some unlucky campers discovered when a bear broke into their campsite and guzzled 36 cans of beer. How did they know it was a bear? Because he had passed out in a drunken stupor right next to his empties. “He only drank the Rainier and wouldn’t drink the Busch beer,” noted one camper, according to Animal Channel. Thankfully, rangers had a smart idea to get the bear out of the campground before his hangover turned him into an angry monster—they lured him out with another can of beer. Love hilarious animals? Check out 50 funny animal stories you need in your life.

Nailia Schwarz/Shutterstock

Cat on a treadmill is all of us, really

An obese gray cat, aptly named Cinder-block, is doing what many people are this time of year: Embarking on a journey to lose weight and get fit. She’s currently 22 pounds and her vet would like her to get down to 12 pounds, to help with her “joint issues.” Even though it’s for her own good, you can see the seething hatred on her face when placed on her kitty treadmill. She squishes herself into a corner and “walks” one paw on the belt while yelling at her humans. “Are you doing your workout?” the vet coos and she gives him a death glare. It’s a feeling that so many of us can relate to, honestly. Cinder is pretty obvious but not all kitties are—do you know the 15 signs your cat is mad at you?

Hummingbird sitting on a branch
Digital Masters Imaging/Shutterstock

Birds can be buddies too

Tough, tattooed, and burly, Mark Cardenaz is probably the last person you’d describe as “Dr. Doolittle” but that’s exactly how friends describe the ex SWAT officer. So no one was surprised when he took in an injured hummingbird he found on his back porch, nursing “Buzz” back to health with Pedialyte and sugar for six weeks. But that’s not where the story ends. After he released Buzz back into the wild he thought he’d never see his little buddy again but every year the bird flies from South America back to Cardenaz’s home in Georgia and lands in his hand. This year, Cardenaz worried something had happened when Buzz didn’t show up at his usual time but several weeks later, there he was, flitting around his head and begging for pets. Find out about the man who only adopts “unrescuable” dogs—he now has 21 pets!

Eye of a black horse

Horse rescues her grand-foal from a fire

The recent California wildfires have provided numerous examples of human heroism but it turns out that animals have been superheroes too, including a black mare named Prieta. People saw the grandmother horse heading back towards the flames, into a stable, to find two other horses, including her two-month-old grand-foal, Onyx, reports Inside Edition. Once she’s found them, she herded them back towards the road, to safety. “It’s just a natural instinct for a mother to want to go back for their child and animals have the same instincts that we do,” noted one touched observer. Prieta isn’t alone, read up on 28 ways animals show their love.

Beautiful loyal german shepherd dog looking up at the camera with trusting eyes, overhead closeup portrait

“This is how you do stairs!”

A German shepherd was caught on camera patiently trying to teach a kitten how to go upstairs at their home. After watching and demonstrating the technique several times, finally, the dog decides to take more action. She gently lifts the kitten in her mouth and carries it up the stairs. At the top, she gives it a nudge as if to say “you’re welcome.” Hearts = melted. P.S. Attention and care are two of the 19 things your dog actually wants from you.

Labrador mouth close-up.

If dogs could talk…

No, seriously, Stella, a blue heeler, can talk—thanks to an ingenious “speech” board created by her human Christina Hunger, shares Inside Edition. The speech-language pathologist created a large board with 29 different buttons, each meaning a different word. She trained Stella to “speak” by pressing the buttons and was surprised to discover how complex the dog’s thoughts were. For instance, after pacing in front of the door, Stella pressed the buttons for “Jake” (Hunger’s fiance) and “come,” showing that she was waiting for her friend. When Jake arrived, Stella pressed “happy” before asking for belly rubs! Here’s how to decode all the different sounds your dog makes.

Puppy and Blanket

From death’s door to superdog

Out for a walk, a man found a dog lying down and chained up in front of a home. He was so skeletal that he assumed the dog was dead but when he realized the pup was breathing, rushed him to the vet who said the poor boy wouldn’t have survived another few hours. Police officers found the woman who had left him so cruelly to die and she was arrested for animal cruelty. Once he was stabilized, Rescue Dogs Rock picked up the dog, whom they named Champ, and after months of rehab and medical care, he beat all the odds and blossomed into a beautiful, happy boy. He’s now been adopted by his forever family and enjoys playing fetch and rolling in the grass, shares Little Paws. These 19 before and after dog adoption photos will make you go, “aah!”

White Grey, Dark Brown Wolf Fox Fur Natural, Animal Wildlife Concept and Style for Background, textures and wallpaper. Close up Full Frame.
Tei Sinthip/Shutterstock

Dog owners help out a blind man in the sweetest way

Stephen Shkuratoff is a huge dog lover. He’s also blind. So he asked members of The Dogspotting Society to describe their dogs. He wrote on a Facebook post: “I am blind and was hoping to ask for more dog descriptions. Personality traits are more helpful than colors. Like how soft the dog is, for example. Bonus as always for dogs full of kisses and snuggles.” In just five days, over 2,000 people responded with the sweetest, funniest, cutest stories about their beloved pets. Need a day brightener? Just read a few.

Cat and kitten hug and sleep in compassion
Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

Who would you trust with your baby?

Mary the cat befriend humans Ivie and Jason earlier this year and they would feed her when she showed up. Then suddenly her visits stopped and the couple wondered what had happened. Suddenly disappearing is one of the subtle ways cats show they’re depressed. One day their feline friend returned—bedraggled, sick, and toting a newborn kitten. The couple was so touched that Mary would trust them with her baby that they took them in. They took Mary to the vet for surgery and it was touch-and-go for days but the cat was a fighter and she pulled through. Now both cats have been adopted by the California couple.

Yellow labrador retriever is waiting on field.
Jaromir Chalabala/Shutterstock

Woman quits job to look for missing doggo

When Katie the border collie went escaped during a vacation trip to Montana, her owner Carole King was devastated. Carole and husband Vern looked everywhere for her but eventually had to go home to Washington state. But where many people would have moved on, Carole wasn’t ready to give up on her pup yet. She quit her job as a postal worker and went back to Kalispell, Montana, looking for Katie. She posted flyers, made pleas on social media, and just walked up and down streets calling her name. After 57 days, her hard work paid off and locals helped her be reunited with her beloved dog. “I just bear-hugged her,” she said. “I never gave up.”

Scottish Fold cat stands on its hind legs leaning on the wall. Animal portrait

Cats vs. invisible walls

One of the big trends of the year was to put up a “wall” of clear, plastic cling wrap and see what cats and dogs would do. One owner put her seven cats behind the “wall” and then tried to tempt them out with a toy. The first cat figured out how to break through the plastic pretty quickly. But the others? Those poor, confused kitties. One got his paw stuck in it and had to be liberated. Another took a running leap only to get squashed face-first into the plastic. Yet a third just made a strange, pathetic whimpering noise. But, no fear, they all made it out eventually! This is all fun and games but make sure you’re avoiding these 16 pet products vets would never buy.

the breed of dog, the Beagle looks out the window through the glass with rain drops
Alexey Androsov/Shutterstock

One storm, one house, one person, nearly 100 dogs

When hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, it wasn’t just humans who suffered. Chella Phillips rescued 97 dogs from the category 5 monster storm, keeping them safe in her home until it passed. Fortunately, Phillips runs The Voiceless Dogs Of Nassau, Bahamas nonprofit so she knew what to do. It wasn’t all snuggle piles though: “It has been insane since last night, poop, piss non stop but at least they are respecting my bed and nobody has dared to jump in,” she wrote on Facebook. Yep, she’s a saint.

Beautiful black lab puppy lying on the porch of a house. Room for your text.
Michelle D. Milliman/Shutterstock

Rescued dog pays it forward

Birds getting trapped in Jennifer Ahlberg’s screened-in porch isn’t an unusual occurrence but how her dog, Gus, reacted was a surprise. “I didn’t see the bird until I had already let Gus out and he grabbed the bird before I could stop him and went outside with it. I followed him out thinking I could get him to drop the bird and possibly save it. When he gently placed the bird on the ground and it flew away unharmed, I was stunned,” she said. Gus, a rescue himself, seems to want to rescue other animals as well. Dog lovers, make sure you’re avoiding these 14 things you do that your dog secretly hates.

Duck close up on a background of green grass
Pavlo Burdyak/Shutterstock

Small duck does a big, very human kindness

A small boy dropped his sandal down a steep embankment. A passerby returned it. It was such a small act but onlookers were amazed and touched. Why? Because the helper was a duck. “I was dumbfounded. The duck is kind. He really helped, even though he doesn’t know the child,” wrote Myla Aguila, who captured the tender moment on video. “There is a feeling like a person, I will feel mercy on them because of what I saw.”

a cute chihuahua with his tongue hanging out (shallow DOF)
Annette Shaff/Shutterstock

The weirdest, cutest dog you’ll ever see

Mrs. Flans is a very unique looking dog, the result of an illegal backyard breeder. She has the snout of a chihuahua with the tongue of a doxie so her tongue is way too big for her mouth and lolls out one side. Her eyes are unevenly spaced and one is blind. On paper, it sounds strange but when you see the “diva” in action at home, it all comes together to make a hilariously cute lil’ pup. But perhaps the thing that makes her most adorable is her memorable way of communicating. It’s a variety of squeaks, pops, and yelps that sound like a cross between singing and a baby crying. Her doting mom says, “I would say ‘supermodel’ best describes her.” Next, read on for 12 strikingly beautiful animal photos you need to see.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.