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Don't try this at home -- or elsewhere!

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International

Among other things, don't try cremating your dog in your home or near your home ... or at least check the direction of the wind before you do.

In Dale City, Va., this week, a man tried cremating the remains of his pet dog at his home and ended up setting fire to the house, causing $70,000 worth of damage, the Manassas, Va., News & Messenger reported.

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To answer some of the most obvious questions: Rottweiler, wood and gasoline, 9:10 in the morning. Two-story home.

Question: What was he thinking?

Answer: He was thinking, "Whoops."

In New York, don't raise skinny cats.

The New York Daily News reported a woman's 15-pound cat was grabbed by a 4-pound, red-tailed hawk and given a lift, then dropped from a height of about five stories. The cat lived. The woman lived. The hawk dined later, presumably, on lighter fare.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said Eddie, the cat, suffered minor injuries. She also said, "I walked for hours all over the neighborhood … sobbing, looking for his body. I went to all the hawks' nests. I put up signs with Eddie's photo."

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It was not reported if any other hawks squealed on their cat-napping colleague -- birds of a feather and all that.

Novelists, poets, song-writers … anyone looking for a unique story line … In Chita, Russia this week, comes a story that sounds like a punch line waiting for a joke … or a joke waiting for a punch line. It's hard to say which.

As told in the Moscow Times, this week a ferret described as "a terrible glutton, idle to the core," and a parakeet and a monkey, as if setting up their own Disney movie, all ran away from a Russian circus.

Poor working conditions? Stale hay? The bears always get top billing? Oh, no. The art director of the circus said the three animals were suffering from depression due to recent rains, but the monkey did not get far, as it was found curled up with a dog after the escape.

In other snippets:

In Orrington, Maine, WABI-TV reported this week that a red fox had recently taken up life as a prankster, stealing golf balls off the Rocky Knoll Country Club.

The New York Daily News reported Tony, a regular on the Manhattan to Weehawken, N.J., ferry, has been living on crumbs for three years and "does more work cleaning than my partner," said senior deckhand George Schumpp.

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Tony is a pigeon who rides the ferry for about 2 hours each morning and returns for a few rides every evening.

In Newport, Tenn., authorities said they tracked down a bear that had a plastic jar stuck on its head for at least three weeks.

One tranquilizer dart later and it was a day to celebrate for authorities and the bear, which was estimated to be 85 pounds underweight, the Knoxville, Tenn., News Sentinel reported.

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