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Top Heart-Warming Animals Stories From Colorado In 2014

DENVER (CBS4) - From frostbitten kittens to bomb-sniffing dogs, 2014 was quite a year for pets and animals in Colorado. Here are a few of our favorite furry tales (or is it tails?) from this year:

Happy Ending For Frozen Kitten

In December, the Dumb Friends League told the stories of several kittens suffering from frostbite. One of them, Kai, lost his two front paws.

When 10-year-old Miah saw him, she knew he needed to be her kitten saying, "They get cold like I do." She has an extremely rare genetic disorder that prevents her body from controlling its own temperature. The league agreed and now Kai is renamed "Mr. Darcy" and snuggling up with Miah.

Good Work Earns Turkey 4th Pardon

Tom the Turkey has learned the benefits of actually doing a job on the farm. Mark Guttridge, the owner of Ollin Farms in Boulder, gave Tom a Thanksgiving pardon for the fourth year. That's because he protects the flock of approximately 200 hens from foxes, coyotes, strangers -- basically any kind of danger.

"You can hear it anywhere on the farm when he starts going off," Guttridge said.

Now at 4, Tom weighs 40 pounds and truly rules his roost.

Steve the Dog Daniel Rosenow
Daniel Rosenow and Steve (credit: CBS)

Sharp-Eyed Nurse Reunites Patient And Dog

November brought a nasty cold snap, prompting many calls to animal control. Denver had to rescue a dog from under a porch and his story ended up on CBS4. A nurse saw the story and immediately thought of her heart patient, Daniel Rosenow. When he saw it, he immediately recognized his dog, Steve. Steve ran away as paramedics were rushing Rosenow to the hospital for a heart attack. The pair was reunited and both are doing well.

CBS4 Viewers Save Bomb-Sniffing Dog

Kay spent years in Afghanistan protecting the troops by sniffing out IEDs. He retired to Brighton with his handler. In September his owners, Brandon and Brandi Donahue, discovered Kay had a tumor on his heart and needed surgery. That surgery cost $6,000, more than the Donahues could afford. When CBS4 viewers heard about Kay's plight, they quickly raised the needed cash plus more.

"Really wish I knew who they were," Brandon mused. The surgery took about an hour and the extra money will cover his future appointments.

Pets Go To College At UNC

It's a painful part of the passage to college, leaving your pet at home. In 2014, University of Northern Colorado in Greeley changed the rules to allow students to bring along their four-footed friends. The cats and dogs took up residence in Lawrenson Hall as part of a pilot program. The animals are allowed in 16 rooms on two floors. Students have to go through a rigorous application process. If it all goes well, UNC hope to make more floors pet-friendly.

Surgery On A Bear At CSU
CSU vets take X-rays on Marley, a grizzly bear with a broken leg. (credit: John Eisele/CSU)

CSU Vets Get Grizzly Bear Back On Her Feet

Marla the grizzly bear is happily living out the rest of her life at the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, thanks to surgeons at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Marla was rescued from a park in Georgia and had two fractures in one leg.

"This is my first grizzly bear," said Dr. Jeremiah Easley, an orthopedic surgeon who usually operates on horses. The doctors asked: "Is treating a bear more like treating a dog or a horse?" and settled on both before the surgery. Vets say the surgery gives the 7-year-old bear a chance at another 20 years of life.

Couple Steals Chihuahua In Stroller

In May, surveillance cameras captured a couple stealing a teacup Chihuahua from a pet store in Thornton by putting it in the bottom of a stroller. The dog was returned to the store, slightly dehydrated. After widespread coverage, Thornton police were able to identify the suspects and they turned themselves. Police say the brother of one of the suspects was the person who returned the puppy.

Dog Protects Owner's Body From Predators

Robert Blake, 81, loved hiking and cross-country skiing with his dog, Buddy. In May, Robert and Buddy went missing on Lizard Head Pass. Robert's heart stopped beating when he stopped for lunch. When rescuers found him, they also found the golden retriever standing guard, keeping predators away. In fact, the rescuers had to put quite of bit of effort into winning Buddy over. They were able get him back to Robert's widow, Marlene.

"I couldn't make it without him. I could not," Marlene told CBS4.

A newborn tamandua baby is alive and doing well at Denver Zoo (credit: Denver Zoo)

Zookeepers Save Newborn Tamandua

Cayenne the tamandua is thriving at the Denver Zoo, thanks to the intervention of zookeepers. Cayenne is the first baby born to Rio, arriving in March, and vets noticed Rio left the baby alone. Zookeepers stepped in make sure the baby stayed warm and got enough food. It's not unusual for tamanduas to have a hard time caring for their first born. Tamanduas are a species of anteaters native to South America.

Happy Ending to Cat-Napping

A cat-napping rattled Fort Collins in March when three men snagged Oreo from the Armstrong Hotel. The 10-year-old Russian Blue mix disappeared during the St. Patrick's Day festivities but turned up just a few days later. Guests checking into the hotel saw the fliers Oreo was missing and recognized Oreo when they saw her.

Bonus Story

Just because we can't resist this dog's pic and name, we're including Squid on our list. Police in Boulder credited him with helping nab a burglary suspect in July. Squid woke up his owners leading them to the a window where they saw burglars breaking into her car. A call to 911 quickly brought police and one man was arrested. Tina Fuller had adopted Squid just five months earlier.

"Squid was looking out for us. He's got our backs," she said.

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