The week's good news: September 21, 2017
It wasn't all bad!
Dog named Chewbarka rescues family from house fire
A chihuahua-dachshund mix named Sir LaRue Winnieschnitzle — aka Chewbarka — saved several lives when he alerted his family to a fire about to engulf their Florida home. James and Theresa Parsons woke up to Chewbarka yelping his head off. He wouldn't stop, so Theresa got up to see what was making him so upset, and saw the porch was on fire. "It was a wall of flames," James told the Tallahassee Democrat. The Parsons ran to the front door and escaped. While they were safe, the house was destroyed. Despite the devastation, the family is looking at the bright side — their dog is a hero. "Everything happens for a reason but we don't know what the outcomes are going to be," Theresa said. "But we stand firm in our faith."
8-year-old bug enthusiast co-authors paper in an academic journal
At the age of 8, Sophia Spencer has done something many scientists only dream of: She co-authored a paper published this month in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. Spencer loves bugs, and when classmates started making fun of her interest, Spencer's mom wrote a letter to the Entomological Society of Canada, asking if they could send words of encouragement. After the request hit Twitter, support started flooding in, and Morgan Jackson, an entomologist at the University of Guelph Insect Collection, decided to publish a paper on the importance of social media making science accessible to a greater audience, asking Spencer to be his co-author. The tide has turned at school, Spencer said, and now kids use her microscope to look at insects. "If somebody said bugs weren't for girls, I would be really mad at them," she said. "I think anything can be for anybody, including bugs."
Man tracks down couple after finding camera on the beach with their wedding photos
While walking along the water in Laguna Beach, California, Alex Noble stepped on something hard. He bent over to take a closer look, and discovered it was a camera, caked in sand. Noble brought it to his girlfriend's brother, who was able to recover 172 pictures from the battered device. The photos were of a wedding, and hoping to find the couple, they uploaded the pictures to Facebook. Soon, they heard good news from a friend of a friend: The pictures were of Heather and Kole, who married in Laguna Beach two months earlier. A big wave came in after the ceremony, pulling the camera into the sea. Heather and Kole were shocked when they heard it had been found. "There are not enough words to say how grateful we are," Heather told Inside Edition.
Drake University community comes together to build tiny houses for the homeless
As part of its national day of service, Drake University students, staff, and alumni, as well as other volunteers, grabbed hammers, nails, and wood and got to building tiny houses that will be used to shelter the homeless. Drake teamed up with Joppa, a nonprofit that assists the homeless in Des Moines, to build the tiny houses, which are just 100 square feet. The goal is to let a homeless person move in so they don't have to worry about living accommodations as they search for work. Drake's football team started things off by building the bases, and the homes were finished by the rest of the volunteers last weekend. "This feels like a very tangible solution," Alex Ghekas, a junior at Drake, told The Des Moines Register. "Each house we build will take someone off the streets and give them somewhere to go."
Book festival blossoms in battered Mosul
Mosul is coming back to life. Two months after Iraqi forces drove ISIS from the city following a brutal occupation, its residents have staged an impromptu book festival at the gutted Mosul University library. Once home to 3 million books, the building's interior was reduced to ashes by the militants. But volunteers managed to recover 36,000 volumes from the ruins — including a number of ancient manuscripts. They set them, along with books donated from around the world, on outdoor shelves for anyone to read. "I used to weep for what happened," volunteer Yomna Ebeid said. "Now I am confident [that the library] can return better than ever."