Deaf puppy learns sign language
Picture used for illustrative purposes only. (AGENCIES)
ESSEX: A deaf puppy is being taught sign language by her owners.
Three-month-old Alice, a black and white springer spaniel, is learning non-verbal commands including sit, come and roll over.
She was dumped by a breeder in Ireland at just eight weeks after he realised she couldn't hear — and was taken in by animal charity The Blue Cross.
Staff were worried no-one would want her because she could not respond to an owner's calls.
But Alice has found her perfect match in couple Marie Williams, 41, and her partner Mark Morgan, 43 — who are both deaf.
Miss Williams, from West Mersea, Essex, said: "She was so beautiful and the fact that she was deaf just made us fall in love with her even more — we knew that she would fit right into our family.
"When we went to visit her at the centre I had tears in my eyes, because she was so cute and we bonded straight away."
Less than a month after being rescued, Alice was rehomed with the couple and their three sons Liam, 16, Lewis, 13, and Owen, five.
Miss Williams said: "I feel so angry that someone abandoned her because in their eyes she was not 'perfect'.
"It goes to show with a little effort it is easy to cope with a deaf puppy. She has already learned the signs for several basic commands."
Couple’s Mills & Boon obsession
LONDON: These two love getting between the covers - of a slushy novel. Alex Holder and boyfriend Ross Neil have re-created soppy images from the front of Mills & Boon books.
The pair dressed like the characters and copied their hair and make-up, before apeing their poses in front of backdrops painted by advertising chief Alex at their London home.
She joked in a commentary for the pictures: "Sometimes we sit for hours staring at a sea shell. But there's nothing we like more than nearly kissing near some horses. I always try to look hot in front of him so he doesn't leave me."
'Sorry, you are too late'
AUSTRALIA: Prince William's tour of New Zealand continued with a visit to Victoria, where he left at least one broken heart in his wake.
As the royal met scores of well-wishers outside the Memorial Hall in Kerang, a town of 3,800 that was cut off from the outside world by floodwaters for seven days, he passed Tiana O'Brien (17) and her schoolmate Ayla Fenton (17), who had made a sign for the event reading: "I'll be your princess." When he got close enough to hear him, O'Brien called out "Marry me."
"Sorry, you're too late," he replied with a smile. O'Brien was likely to be one of the only people to have met the Prince during his trip to Australia and leave disappointed.
After he toured Queensland towns hit by deadly flash floods on Sunday, the Courier Mail declared "he came, he saw, he charmed their bloody socks off."
The story was the same yesterday, when the Prince moved on to the south-eastern state of Victoria, where dozens of rural towns were inundated by slowly rising floodwaters earlier this year.
Inside a marquee on the Murrabit sports field, the Prince sat down with locals whose farms had been flooded.
As he listened to the story of the Griffiths family, whose pig farm was inundated for weeks, he said the images were awful.
"It's so sad you're having to show me pictures of your houses in the water, rather than happy family snaps," he said to Rod Griffiths (43).
12-year-old escaped tsunami by running up hill
FUKUSHIMA - The evacuation order around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has held up the search for the parents of two local children, as the troubled power station lies just south of their hometown of Namiemachi, Fukushima Prefecture.
Yuki Nabeshima, 12, and her brother Yusuke, 7, were brought to their paternal grandparents' home outside the prefecture after Namiemachi was destroyed by the tsunami that surged ashore following the March 11 earthquake. More than 10 days after the quake, the siblings still do not know what has become of their parents and maternal grandparents.
As the nuclear crisis surrounding the plant intensified, the government ordered residents within a 20-kilometer radius of the power station to evacuate and those within 20 to 30 kilometers to stay indoors.
The children's home lies within the 20-kilometer evacuation zone, and with the local police station closed, the search for missing people in the town has been put on hold.
Yuki is a sixth-grader and Yusuke is a first-grader at Ukedo Primary School in Namiemachi.
When the quake struck, Yuki and about 90 second- to sixth-graders who were in class at the time evacuated to a small hill near the school. Yusuke and his first-grade classmates were not at school when the earthquake struck. The entire area surrounding the school was swallowed up by tsunami. The waves washed away most of the buildings, leaving only the school's main building and its gymnasium behind.
From the hill, the students walked several kilometers along a mountain path and were eventually given a ride in a back of a large truck, which took them to a town office that was being used as an evacuation center.
The school's assistant principal, Michihiro Moriyama, 57, rushed to tell the students' parents their children were safe, but was not able to contact Yuki's parents.
Yuki's father, Akinori, 46, works at the ancient Kusano Shrine. It seems that he and his wife, Yayoi, 43, initially escaped by car, but then returned to the shrine to try to rescue Yayoi's parents and were swallowed up by the tsunami.
Moriyama brought Yuki to a shelter to wait for her parents to be located. But after the evacuation order was given, they had to move to several different shelters and acquaintances' homes in the prefecture.
After a short while, they confirmed that Yusuke was safe. He had been at an after-school care center when the earthquake hit. When the siblings were reunited, Moriyama saw Yuki smile for the first time in a long time. "She must have been feeling so helpless," he said.
But he worried about Yuki, who seemed to be putting on a brave face and did not ask about her parents. Moriyama told her: "I heard your mom and dad went to help to your grandpa and grandma. That was really great of them...I'm sure they're somewhere cheering you." Hearing this, Yuki wept for the first time since the quake.
Yuki and Yusuke have still not heard anything about their parents. Later, they were sent to live with their grandparents in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on March 15.
Yuki's school has decided not to hold a graduation ceremony, but Moriyama promised her that he would send her a diploma. "If there hadn't been any trouble at the nuclear plant, we could've kept searching for their parents," Moriyama said. "There's still hope, but not much. I hope they're alive somewhere."
Yuki and Yusuke's grandfather, Mitsuhisa Mukuno, 72, said the two siblings have been helpful around the house and have not cried.
After hearing about the rescue of two people nine days after the earthquake in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Yuki said: "They're lucky. I hope the same thing happens to us."
Yusuke was worried about his mom. "She was sick and had a fever. I wonder if she's OK."