In a year that seems to have been jam packed with stresses and everyday horrors, it’s important to seek out all the good and life affirming bits that slipped through the cracks.
2018 was just one of those years. An interminable blend of major dramas and baffling events that seemed to both melt by, and drag along. 12 months with a decades worth of stuff to unpack.
Thank goodness then for the animals that provided some light relief. From new born baby wombats, to the Messi the pet puma and beyond- it’s been a vintage year for good boys and interminably cute critters.
And here’s 12 of the very finest to get you reminiscing on the year that was.
Knickers, the big cow
You didn’t seriously think he wouldn’t make the cut, did you?
Knickers burst into all of our lives this November, standing at 6ft 4in tall and 1,400kg.
And while he isn’t the world’s largest – that accolade belongs to an Italian cow called Bellino – he is still an extremely large chap.
So large in fact, that it may well have saved his life. Meat processors say that he’s just too large for them to deal with.
Which is just as well, considering the depth of feeling and good cheer the oversized beast has attracted online.
Knicker will live out the rest of his days on Lake Preston feedlot in Myalup, Australia, if you fancy posting him some fan mail.
Tango the horse
Ah yes, Tango. He was dubbed by all and sundry the ‘stupidest horse’ in the world this month, for his seeming inability to do anything non-memable, or without tripping into a light comedy of his own making.
Whether that was sleeping on his back, grazing freshly bare grass patches or eschewing a warm barn for the dubious shelter of a winter tree.
It’s all in good spirits, we think.
We’re all rooting for you Tango, you gormless fellow.
Moose, the four-year-old ferret
We can’t imagine it’s that crowded a field – but we’re pretty sure that Moose might well be the breakout Ferret of 2018 (and quite possibly 2019, as well).
The four-year-old fur ball from Nebraska is brother to fellow ferrets Newt and Albert – and the three have been picked as the faces of a 2019 calendar dedicated to undiluted cuteness.
Not bad work, if you can get it.
The Pikachu possum
Oh boy. This critter doesn’t actually have a formal name.
Not that it stopped the adorable Australian possum from collecting viral fame as a dead ringer for iconic Pokemon, Pickachu.
The ‘vanishingly rare’ golden possum was discovered at the start of December in Melbourne, at the side of the road.
Thankfully, he got all the care he needed after a traumatic morning, before staying under assessment at a local vets.
A highly unusual genetic mutation accounts for the gold, by the way.
The drunk Kereru
‘Classy, gluttonous and glamorous’ in the words of the official campaign to have the New Zealand bird declared the best in the country.
Well, it worked and all. The clownish Kiwi sky botherers lapped up a whopping 48,000 votes.
Not bad for a group that frequently get ‘so drunk they can’t stand’.
Boo the dog and Mike the magpie
Wouldn’t be an end of year round-up without the obligatory odd couple.
Boo the pooch bumped into Maggie on an evening walk back in the autumn, in his hometown of Sabden, Lancashire – with the latter tending injuries, having fallen out of a tree.
Now, the two have proved to be inseparable, with a bond formed during Mike’s slow recuperation at Boo’s family home.
The two even share food, walks and occasionally, the same bed.
We smell a buddy movie in the works.
Toothless the snake
The dentist is a necessary evil for many, however uncomfortable.
And there’s no good reason why that shouldn’t apply to our reptilian friends as well.
Toothless the Australian snake, had a rather interesting year.
The pet snake saw a normal meal turn into a protracted ordeal when her left lower jawbone folded and got stuck in her throat when she swallowed.
Her owners rushed her to the vet who, instead of operating a risky surgery to correct the problem, decided to get creative.
Hence the braces.
Mimi the bunny
Mimi has never had it easy.
Born with only three legs and no ears, it would have been too easy to consign the bunny to a life of hardship and pain.
However, her owner Rodajia Welch, 22, decided to take matters into her own hands.
Now, Mimi stands out for a different reason: her vibrant knitted ears, which slot on her head whenever it’s safe to do so.
‘[Though not when] the other bunnies aren’t around, they would probably try to chew on them’, as Welch explains.
Fred the pigeon
Turns out the concept of ‘couch potato’ isn’t confined to the human race.
But a TV loving pigeon might well be a first.
61-year-old Mike Roberts probably didn’t have companionship in mind when he adopted ‘Fred’, who he found as a baby bird in his driveway.
However, young birds ‘imprint’ on humans – meaning that Fred now sees Mike as his parent, going as far as to ride about on his shoulder.
The Swindon based duo are pretty much inseparable and can usually be found watching tv together in the evenings.
Though Fred has since been taken into a specialist sanctuary, the memories remain.
Asha the Golden Retriver
Not content with being a very good boy, Asha also proved something of a hero in September.
The five-year-old from Victoria, Australia saved a baby koala bear from a freezing night on the porch.
The marsupial snuggled into Asha’s fur, most likely saving its life.
Owner Kerry McKinnon found them both nestled on the porch the next morning.
See, not all heroes wear capes.
The Thames whale
Yeah, this one was mad.
The mammoth creature was spotted in Gravesend, Kent by a local ecologist who took to social media with some snaps.
Fascinating it may have been, but not particularly good news for the whale involved.
Beluga whales usually inhabit the Arctic Ocean – so a detour to the comparatively sunny climes of south-east England could have proved disastrous.
However, news reports from November indicate that the whale is still thriving – even if it’s unsure if they’ll ever make it home.
Britain’s biggest puppy
Forget your typical Great Danes or bog standard Alsatians.
Arnie trumps them all.
As of 2018, the award for Britain’s biggest puppy goes to the South Lanarkshire based pooch.
Julie and Colin Reid adopted him from Dogs Trust back in the autumn, although they weren’t quite prepared for the scale of the new family member.
The Great Dane stands at 6ft on his hind legs and weighs at over 43kg, making him the semi-official ‘biggest puppy in the UK’.
It’s said he could potentially double in size in adulthood, though for Julie it’s still a case of ‘bigger means better’.
It was, she says, ‘love at first sight’- even if their already existing litter of French Bulldogs and Dougue De Bordeaux took a bit of time to get used to their new housemate.
Todd, the official Dog of the Year
Ultimate good boy Todd shielded his owner from a rattlesnake, and came out with a swollen face.
As well as being a hero, Todd kept smiling and luckily he was on the mend 12 hours later.
He was (quite rightly) crowned Dog of the Year by biscuit brand Milk-Bone in October for his ‘bravery, overcoming obstacles, and strong personality and loyalty traits’.