(CNN)Are your pets smart? Mine isn’t. My dog Gustav once barked at a butterfly for 10 minutes. When a ray of sunlight comes through the window and illuminates little dust particles in the air, he will try to catch and eat them. Just the other day, I thought he was staring up at the heavens and crying softly for no reason at all, until I realized my phone was making a small reflection on the ceiling that he desperately wanted to play with. And you know what? I’m not ashamed. There is plenty of research about whether our beloved companions are smart, but let’s be honest: Even if your cat, dog, rabbit or raccoon were the most intellectually vacant animal ever to walk the earth, you would still adore them just the way they are.

Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week

Twinning — twice!

    How many coincidences can you handle at one time? Identical twins Tori Howard and Tara Drinkard work at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital in Athens, Georgia, and they recently worked together to help a mom deliver — surprise — a pair of identical twins! As if twins helping twins weren’t enough, Tori and Tara didn’t know they would be working together, or that their little patients would be so much like them, until right before the birth. Tori works in the neonatal intensive care unit and Tara recently made the switch from being in the emergency room to working in the labor and delivery unit. Nurses from both teams are usually present to assist with the delivery, and there must be at least one nurse per baby, so Tori and Tara turned out to be a perfect fit. The newborns’ mom and dad, Rebecca and Brannan Williams, say the twin nurses have been a huge source of advice and support as they navigate the new waters of twin parenthood.

    A hero in yellow

    Here’s a rule of thumb: If children think you’re someone really special, then you’re probably someone really special. Alec Childress is a crossing guard in Wilmette, Illinois, and when he turned 80, the kids in his neighborhood surprised him with a party. More than 100 people showed up with cookies, gifts and hugs to celebrate Childress and his kind, positive crossing-guard ways. Kay McBrearty, one of the party organizers, said Childress has been a remarkable person in the lives of many people. A great-grandson of a slave, Childress grew up on a Mississippi cotton farm and was left to tend it at a young age when his father had to go north to find work. When his parents didn’t have enough money to send him to school, he started washing dishes to help pay his way. Childress says his early hardships taught him responsibility and the importance of a positive outlook. Clearly, his young friends appreciate the message. “For me to be able to experience that kind of love tells me we have more good in the world than the bad,” Childress said. “It reaffirms my knowledge and belief in people.”

    A doll of a donation

    Chloe Newman lost her right leg when she was a baby, and now she’s helping kids like her see themselves in a new way. When Mattel recently released a line of diverse Barbie dolls, including one with a stylish prosthetic leg, Chloe, now 18, had an idea. She wanted to buy 100 of the dolls so her doctor at Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, Massachusetts, could give them to young patients when he made them a new leg. At first, they were hard to find in large numbers, but after a few posts on Facebook, friends started sending the dolls by the dozen. Chloe and her family wrote to Mattel to see if they could purchase the dolls in bulk, and the company ended up donating 200 of them to her cause. Chloe ended up with about 430 Barbies to share, and Shriners is making sure everyone gets to enjoy the doll haul. The hospital is giving them to orthotic and prosthetic patients in Springfield, and also plans to share them with patients at other Shriners’ facilities

    Raise a glass to…

    NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, who conducted the first all-female spacewalk outside of the International Space Station on Friday! (Bonus: The person talking to the pair from Mission Control was veteran astronaut Stephanie Wilson, who has spent a total of 42 days in space during her career.) Meir and Koch embarked on the six-hour spacewalk to replace a faulty battery unit. The pair aren’t the first women to walk in space: 12 pioneering astronauts and cosmonauts made that step into the final frontier before them. But an all-female mission is something special. “I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing and that in the past, women haven’t always been at the table,” Koch said. “It’s wonderful to be contributing to human spaceflight at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role and that can lead, in turn, to increased chance for success.”

    A bright idea

    No one likes to pay parking tickets. Well, statistically someone must, but that person is deeply disturbed and probably needs a hug. However, ponying up might not be so bad for Las Vegas residents this month: The city is accepting food donations in lieu of cash for citations issued between October 16 and November 16. The Las Vegas city council says the donations will be given to Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, a nonprofit that assists low income and disabled senior citizens, to bolster their efforts around the upcoming holidays. This isn’t the first time Las Vegas has offered a helpful payment alternative for naughty parkers. In July, the city accepted donations of school supplies instead.

    You gotta see this

    The prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards were given out this week by London’s Natural History Museum, and the winning photos are a feast for the eyes. This majestic image of a golden eagle surveying the wilds of Norway really spoke to us, but there are plenty of other photographic feats to enjoy. (We didn’t include the winning image of a marmot being surprised by a Tibetan fox because, well, things didn’t exactly look good for the marmot. It’s a great photo! Just not a Good Stuff photo, if you get our drift.)

    Heroes among us

    Afroz Shah, a lawyer in Mumbai, has been cleaning up beaches in India every weekend for four years. What does that feat look like in numbers? Well, it’s 209 weekends, with 20,000 volunteers joining him along the way. Together, they’ve cleared more than 60 million pounds of garbage — mostly plastic waste — from Mumbai’s beaches and waterways. It’s a sad situation, and that’s what motivated Shah to start his cleaning movement in the first place. He used to play at Mumbai’s Versova Beach as a child, and when he returned there in 2015, he said he was “repulsed” by all the trash. Now, Versova Beach is a LOT cleaner than it was a few years ago, and Shah and the army of volunteers he’s inspired are going to work on other areas. “This problem of pollution is created by us,” he says. “If this huge ocean is in a problem, we’ll have to rise up in huge numbers.”

    PS: It’s almost time to vote for the 2019 CNN Hero of the Year! Be sure to brief yourself on all the wonderful people we’ve celebrated this year before the Top 10 are revealed on October 30.

    Wanna get away?

    Moody stone castles, heather-hued moors, a climate most conducive to cuddling up and never leaving the house? No wonder so many romance novels are set in Scotland! I audibly gasped when I saw this photo of Edinburgh, which is one of CNN Travel’s picks for best Scottish travel destination. Time to start planning your next love affair … er, vacation.

    Who knew?

    Everybody loves Sriracha, but how much do you really know about the tasty, trendy condiment? Did you know, for instance, that it’s named after a small town in Vietnam? Or that the man who invented the most popular brand (the one with the green cap) is an immigrant who fled from Vietnam to the US by boat 40 years ago? Great Big Story reveals even more secrets of the sauce in this video, but be warned: You’ll have a serious craving going by the time it’s through.

    Shameless animal video

      There’s always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.

      My Washington Nationals are in the World Series! Just typing that feels so good. This season, Nats fans have been obsessed with “Baby Shark,” that viral children’s song that every parent on the planet probably hates by now. I won’t subject you to that, but I WILL subject you to the cutest video of sharks I could find. You know, for good luck. (Click here to view)

      Source: http://edition.cnn.com/


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