The week's good news: May 25, 2017
It wasn't all bad!
Teen's service dog gets its own adorable yearbook photo
If you ever get your hands on the 2016-2017 yearbook for Virginia's Stafford High School, turn immediately to page 220. All the way at the bottom left, nestled in the rows and rows of standard headshots of teenagers, you'll spot a little pair of innocent black eyes and a wet nose poking up into the camera frame. (Click here to see the photo.) This is Alpha Schalk, a service dog for 16-year-old Andrew 'AJ' Schalk. AJ has diabetes, and Alpha has the distinguished job of alerting him when his blood sugar reaches a dangerous level. The dog has gathered a bit of a following at the school. When AJ asked the yearbook team if the dog could be featured alongside him in the album, they agreed without hesitation. "The only thing they changed was the camera height," he said. "They just had to lower it a little."
17-year-old earns master's degree before graduating from high school
After conquering algebra in kindergarten and geometry in the second grade, Stephanie Mui, 17, earned multiple college degrees — all before receiving her high school diploma. The Virginia resident learned the basics through flash cards, and by the time she was in fifth grade, she had signed up for community college courses. After earning her associate's degree, Mui went to George Mason University, where she received her bachelor's of science in math, and this weekend, she was awarded a master's degree, also in mathematics. Throughout her college career, Mui was also still enrolled in high school, and she will graduate in June; her plan is to go to New York University this fall for her Ph.D. "Everybody else may see it as weird," Mui told NBC Washington. "But, you know, it's just life."
Designers create stunning floral arrangements in NYC trash cans
New Yorkers used to walking by overflowing garbage cans are doing double takes, thanks to a group of floral designers who are transforming trash receptacles into vases. Lewis Miller and his design team mix beauty with grit by taking gorgeous flowers and arranging them in trash cans. "They're our flowers to New York," director of special projects Irini Greenbaum told Today. "That's really the message — to gift flowers to New Yorkers for no other reason than to make them smile." They also place flowers on New York landmarks, like John Lennon's "Imagine" memorial in Central Park. "People actually took some of the flowers and turned the installation into a peace sign," Greenbaum said. "Which is something that we didn't do. ... It's nice to see it take on a life of its own."
Ohio now has its first pit bull K-9 officer
Leonard the pit bull is proof that with training, a misunderstood dog is capable of doing new things. Leonard was rescued last October, and almost euthanized because the shelter didn't think anyone would adopt him. He liked to take things that weren't his and had a one-track mind, and the Union County Humane Society realized those traits would make him a successful police dog. Leonard joined the Clay Township Police Department on May 19. His job is to find narcotics, and when he's off duty, he lives with Police Chief Terry Mitchell. "He would just as soon climb on your lap and give you kisses and go to sleep as he would do anything else, but he's really taken to the vest," Mitchell told WTOL. "When you put that vest on him, he's all business. It's like he knows it's time to go to work."
After 16 years of infertility, southern white rhino gives birth to first calf
Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park believe a change in diet could be behind a southern white rhino baby boom. On April 30, Kiazi gave birth to her first calf, following 16 years of regular breeding. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research discovered after nine years of research that southern white rhinos born in zoos are often infertile, likely due to compounds, called phytoestrogens, that are found in the soy and alfalfa they are fed. In 2014, the zoo changed their diets, and two years later, two female southern white rhinos, which are a near-threatened species, were pregnant. "The birth of Kiazi's calf gives us a great deal of hope that by feeding low phytoestrogens at our institution and others, we can once again have a healthy, self-sustaining captive southern white rhinoceros population," said Dr. Christopher Tubbs, senior scientist in reproductive sciences at the Institute.