Stolen rubber duck returns after odd globe-trotting mystery...An oversized rubber duck that was stolen from a New Hampshire family's home five years ago has returned, shrouded in a cloud of mystery and global intrigue.The Troiano family began receiving cryptic postcards and pictures of the duck in locations all over the world soon after its disappearance from their Hampton home.A Facebook page documenting the globe-trotting of "Gale Ducky" gained a large following that included the Troianos themselves, who were amused by their bath toy's new adventures and weren't put off by his abduction.But on Wednesday morning, Gale Ducky returned with a suitcase full of mementoes from his journey to 20 different countries and numerous cities across the United States.Jennifer Troiano says she hopes the abductor's identity remains a mystery.------------------------------
Who Let The Dogs In? More Companies Welcome Pets At Work...Millennials will surpass baby boomers as the largest pet-owning generation in about three years, according to Stifel Equity Research, and they'll make up almost half of the workforce by 2020. Now companies are looking to attract those younger employees by letting pets into the office. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 7 percent of employers now allow pets to come to work with their owners. That's up from 5 percent five years ago.Benefits managers say it's a nonfinancial benefit that speaks to the growing demand among workers for work-life balance.Studies show pets lower stress hormones, and some show that workplaces that allow pets see higher morale and productivity.Google & Amazon are two of the biggest companies in the country that have open door policies for pets.------------------
Big Brands Clorox & Smucker Invest in a New Breed: Pets...The humanization of pets has been a major boon for all pet-related industries as more people are treating their pets just like family members. Americans spent $60.28 billion on their pets in 2015 and that is expected to jump to $62.75 billion this year.Smucker completed its approximately $6 billion acquisition of Big Heart Pet Brands in March 2015. Big Heart's portfolio of brands includes: Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Kibbles 'n Bits, Natural Balance, Milo's Kitchen and more.In a 2016 investor presentation, Smucker highlighted several trends that are driving growth in the pet food segment. Approximately 63% of dog and cat households are child free. One in five people reportedly would prefer to spend Valentine's Day with a pet rather than their partner, showing a deeper bond. And, three quarters of pet "parents" say their pets should "get the best care possible, regardless of cost."Currently, Smucker's Big Heart Pet Brand contributes nearly a third (29%) of the entire company's annual net sales. Since the acquisition, the stock has grown more than 35%, and is up 25% for the calendar year so far. Then there is Clorox, which has two cat litter products: Scoop Away and Fresh Step. While the company does not break down the sales for its animal-related products, Vice President of Investor Relations Steve Austenfeld said during an Aug. 3 conference call with analysts that the cat litter segment grew in sales and volume for the quarter. The recent launch of Fresh Step with Febreze contributed to market share growth for the period. CEO Benno Dorer added that Clorox has "more innovation to come in fiscal year 2017 to support what is now a tailwind in cat litter." Analysts with KeyBanc said in an Aug. 4 research note that household volume growth hit 7% on new product innovation in cat litter.------------------------
Flight attendant adopts stray dog who wouldn’t stop waiting for her at Argentina hotel...A German flight attendant had her life veer into a Universal Studios movie territory when she adopted a stray dog from the streets of Buenos Aires.Olivia Sievers lives in Germany but as a flight attendant she regularly travels to Buenos Aires. During one visit earlier this year, one of Argentina's famous street dogs took a shine to Sievers and followed her around town. She tried to lose the pup because she didn't want him to get attached.No such luck. The dog won her over, and she spent some time feeding and playing with him.
Inevitably, the transience of flight attendant life called, and Sievers was again up in the air. Anyone would have thought it was the end of a brief, if beautiful little friendship. However, the threads of fate were already intertwined.The next time Sievers was in town, the dog was there, waiting for her. Every time she made the long trip, the dog seemed to find her, and greeted her hopefully outside her hotel. She documented their friendship on her Facebook page, which is now private. She named the dog Rubio, and decided to adopt him.Their love story officially began as so many do: With piles of paperwork. Sievers applied to transport him from Argentina to Germany. He now lives with Sievers and her other two dogs.Whatever the reason for his tenacity, Rubio seems very comfortable with his new life. Did he have some sort of secret motivation from the start? Who knows. He's a dog, and a very happy one at that.------------------------
In the cold waters of the Arctic, a denizen of the deep lurked for centuries. Now scientists calculate that this female Greenland shark was the Earth’s oldest living animal with a backbone.Scientists estimated that the gray shark, part of the species named after Greenland, was born in the icy waters roughly 400 years ago, and died only recently. That conclusion puts the entire species at the top of the longevity list.Using a novel dating technique, an international team of biologists and physicists estimated the age of 28 dead female Greenland sharks based on tissue in their eyes. Eight of the sharks were probably 200 years or older and two likely date back more than three centuries, according to a study published this week in the journal Science.Until now, that record holder was a bowhead whale that hit 211 years old, according to study lead author Julius Nielsen and AnAge, an animal longevity database .Some animals without backbones live longer. An ocean quahog, a clam, lived 507 years and two different types of sponges are said to survive for 15,000 and 1,500 years.---------------