Born with a birth defect called Swimmer Puppy Syndrome, Mick wasn't able to sit, stand or walk by the time he was brought into the Mia Foundation in Rochester, New York. The condition meant Mick's legs were always splayed out. But with some help from a harness, regular exercise in a swimming pool and love from his caretakers, Mick eventually gained the strength he needed to trot along on his own, and now he's even running.
Bo was three years old and severely underweight when he was rescued from Toronto’s streets. The dog trainer who tracked him and brought him to a shelter soon found out something else about the Azores Cattle Dog — Bo was almost totally blind. Bo now has a new owner and has packed on some healthy pounds. A video of his journey to a new and happier life was uploaded to YouTube. Be warned: You may need to break out the tissues.
They do exist! In Vietnam, at least. The highly endangered saola, also known as the "Asian unicorn," was photographed by the World Wildlife Fund and Vietnamese conservationists for the first time in 15 years. A WWF conservationist called it a "monumental find," as only a few dozen to a few hundred are believed to be left. The two-horned mammals have been threatened by illegal snares and hunting.
Breeze the pony finds comfort in a big ol' teddy bear
Breeze, a pony abandoned by his mother at a national park in England, was found collapsed and suffering from shock and dehydration. Rescuers put him on a saline drip and began nursing him back to health, but they also brought him a giant teddy bear. Breeze took to his new companion quickly, and was filmed cuddling in the fuzzy toy's lap in a video released by the sanctuary that monitored his health. Altogether now: Awww.
The Ugly Animal Preservation Society asked voters to weigh in on what animal should be the organization's mascot, and the people were emphatic — the blobfish deserves its due. The miserable-looking, puffy deepwater creature, which has no muscle and is said to feel like jelly, was declared the "world's ugliest animal" by the organization. Despite the society's lighthearted name, organizers also wanted to draw attention to the plight of the blobfish, which is threatened by bottom-trawling fishing nets.
Sure, 2013 was the Year of the Snake, if you go by the Chinese zodiac. But judging by the animal stories we loved this year, 2013 also belongs to all manner of cuddly, endangered, frightful, hilarious or straight-up amazing creatures. Click through our gallery for a few of the year's highlights.