2017 had its highs and lows. There were devastating wildfires and massive hurricanes. Two different earthquakes hit different parts of Mexico. There were mass gun shootings, war, displaced refugees, and so much more. But in the midst of all that, there were people who ran into the devastation to help.

People ran on empty to get animals to safety and to help other people in need. Frida the rescue dog helped to find those trapped after earthquakes. There have been collections and fundraisers to help those impacted by the numerous natural disasters. All the bad news in the world can be overwhelming and disheartening but as Mr. Rogers once said: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”.

This year has been tough but there have been some good things and so I thought I’d make a list of some of my favorite things from 2017.

Favorite film: Kedi

This film had a limited theater release around the US in the spring of 2017 but you can now find it on different online platforms. It follows several street cats that call Istanbul home, as the city has had hundreds of thousands of street cats for centuries. These cats have become an integral part of the city’s culture and this film highlights just how much many of the people in Istanbul love these cats.

Find Kedi online at YouTube Red, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, and more.

Favorite place: Tropical Butterfly House at Pacific Science Center

The butterfly house at the Pacific Science Center recently celebrated its 19th birthday and it’s still an amazing way to learn about the different butterflies around the world. The Pacific Science Center, in general, is a great way to do hands on learning for all ages and the butterfly house is a great way to get up close and personal with different kinds of butterflies.

Winter hours: 10am to 5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat-Sun, holidays; plan your visit ahead of time by going online!

Favorite walk: Lake Padden off leash trails

This park is located in south Bellingham, Washington and in addition to the 2.6mile loop around the lake, there are some off leash trails for dog owners and their pups. The start for the off-leash trail starts near the fenced off leash park at the end of the east entrance and is a slight hike. There are many different ways to walk around these trails and often, you’ll come across many other dogs and their people while walking!

These trails are a relatively easy hike compared to many other hikes around the Pacific Northwest but might not be the best for senior dogs or those with arthritis or other issues. The good news about Lake Padden is that there are other flat trails to walk with senior dogs! As mentioned, there is a 2.6 mile loop around the lake and there’s an additional 5.1 miles of multipurpose trails south and east of the lake.

I do recommend going in the middle of the day and not around dawn or dusk, as coyotes have been spotted in the area around those times.

Favorite Twitter account: WeRateDogs

WeRateDogs is, at least in my opinion, a staple of the internet. Started in November of 2015, this account soon gained popularity as the top place for numerical ratings and comical commentary of cute dogs. Since its start, WeRateDogs has rated numerous dogs, started a store with perfect beanies, sweaters, and more for dog lovers, wrote a book, and helped support several rescue organizations around the United States.

Favorite Instagram: APupNamedSquish

This was both a difficult and very easy decision. That sounds confusing but in reality, there are so many Instagram accounts that I love following and came up with a long list of ones that are just so much fun. But when I was thinking about which one was my favorite this year, Squish came to mind. This pup (and his brother Weasel) live in Ohio with a wonderful vet. His owner shared his story with The Dodo recently and I definitely recommend reading it! (Although, maybe have some tissues on hand. It’s such a wonderful story!)

Favorite Dog (other than Rooster!): Frida the Rescue Dog

Rooster is definitely my all time favorite dog but in 2017, Frida the rescue dog is definitely a close second! She works with the Mexican navy (SEMAR) in the event of natural disasters and gained popularity and praise for helping to find people after two different earthquakes struck Mexico. She’s a 7 year old yellow lab and according to Time, she’s helped find 52 people over her career (12 are still alive!).

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