Watercooler Stories

Jan. 16, 2008 at 6:30 AM
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Exercise video aimed at people with pets

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A Beverly Hills, Calif., fitness trainer known for helping celebrities shape up has created a program designed to help people and their pets work out together.

Gunnar Peterson teamed with pet food maker Hills Pet Nutrition Inc. to create "PetFit -- People and Pet Fitness Video with Gunnar Peterson," which will be free for download starting Jan. 22 at www.petfit.com.

Hills approached Gunner, who owns four English Mastiffs, to help create the video as a way of drawing attention to the issue of pet obesity.

Thirty-five percent of cats and dogs in the United States are considered obese and it's hoped the video can help people and their pets have healthier lifestyles together.

Bears' lives spared after controversy

NEWBERRY, Mich., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Three bears that took up residence beneath a Minnesota cabin for the winter have been transported to a sanctuary near Newberry, Mich.

The mother, nicknamed Solo, and her two cubs arrived Sunday at Oswald's Bear Ranch, bringing a close to a public debate that arose after the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made plans to kill the mama bear, the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Tuesday.

Despite the agency's warning that the bear was becoming too accustomed to humans and could pose a public health risk, residents opposed plans to kill Solo and the public outcry led the DNR to choose relocation over execution.

However, the situation became further complicated when a resident used pepper spray to scare the bears away from their chosen hibernation spot before officials from the Forest Lake-based Wildlife Science Center could capture them. A chase ensued that ended with all three bears being apprehended -- but not before a tree was cut down to recover a cub that refused to come down.

The bear family arrived Monday at Oswald's Bear Ranch.

Magazine spread angers North Dakotans

BISMARCK, N.D., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A National Geographic article featuring photographs of abandoned farm houses and rusting cars has infuriated many North Dakotans, especially the governor.

Critics say the story National Geographic tells is only partly true and has been told over and over, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Others are just plain mad.

"They could have done the same thing in Minnesota. Pick any state, find an abandoned building or house or a car sitting in a field, take a picture and say that represents the state -- come on," North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven said.

High wheat and oil prices have been good for North Dakota, but National Geographic's "The Emptied Prairie" by Charles Bowden focuses on arid western North Dakota, where low rainfall has been killing the hopes of farmers for decades.

Clay Jenkinson of Dickinson State University said that explorer John Wesley Powell pointed out the problems of western North Dakota in 1878.

"Someone is always coming out here and discovering that the plains are emptying out," he said. "This is yet another in a long, long series of dying town stories and we all need to take a deep breath."

Calif. Nordstrom's oldest employee retires

COSTA MESA, Calif., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The oldest employee at a Nordstrom's store in Costa Mesa, Calif., has retired at 81-years-old after 21 years with the store.

Yvonne Dutton said she found herself searching for a new career at age 60 when the financial strain of raising three children on food stamps was further exacerbated by the end of her 37-year marriage, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Dutton said she found a rewarding career at Nordstrom's concierge desk.

"One of the reasons I wanted to work in customer service," Dutton said, "is to help people, especially older women. My message to them, and to married mothers, is that they have lots to offer and it's never too late to make a change."

The octogenarian's co-workers said her tenure will be fondly remembered at the store.

"Yvonne will be missed," said Scott Colunga, assistant manager at Nordstrom's. "Her (presence) speaks to people. We have customers who grew up with Yvonne; when she's on vacation, they ask where she is."

Dutton said she now plans "to start taking piano lessons again, go back to my Bible study and whatever else comes."

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