New Yorkers meet therapy reading dogs, friendly tortoise

In this week's animal news, a pet tortoise goes on a stroll through Central Park and non-judgemental dogs encourage young children to keep reading.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - "He's kind of the perfect New Yorker, you know, up for anything and very into meeting people from all walks of life," said Ms Amanda Green, owner of tortoise Henry.

And it doesn't talk back.

Ms Green says she knows it's weird having a tortoise take strolls through Central Park, but she says people like it, including her current tortoise walker who beat out hundreds of job applicants.

And so Henry the tortoise will continue to roam in the city that never sleeps.

Izzy isn't sleeping either. It's hanging onto every word, supporting young readers as they practise their skills.

A literacy programme in New York City has invited therapy dogs to lend their furry ears and encourage reading in a non judgmental way.

"I love reading to Izzy because it listens to me and doesn't make fun of me when I make a mistake," said Aelane Vasquez, 9, whose parents are from Mexico.

Educators say so far so good.

Here's some more feel good stories. An Iraqi cat was flown overseas and reunited with its Navy veteran pal back in California, and Ms Jessica Winkle's beloved pets are saved from a fire.

Firefighters say 12 second-floor units were gutted by the Houston fire, but they did manage to save a cat and one lucky dog.