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B.C. year in review 2017: animals that stole our hearts

At left, a sea lion that pulled a girl into the water in Steveston. At right, Annette Poitras with a dog that helped keep her alive in the wild.
At left, a sea lion that pulled a girl into the water in Steveston. At right, Annette Poitras with a dog that helped keep her alive in the wild. Michael Fujiwara/Global News

Some of the most popular moments of the year revolved around animals.

From the story of three dogs who helped their dog walker survive two nights in Coquitlam’s backcountry, to the sea lion that pulled a girl into the water in Steveston, they shocked us, they made us laugh, and some of them warmed our hearts.

Here are the top animal stories of 2017:

March 14: Coquitlam couple has two close encounters with a trio of cougars

Trio of cougars caught on video in Coquitlam
Trio of cougars caught on video in Coquitlam

A Coquitlam family found itself facing down three cougars after two wild cats ran from Noons Creek on to their property.

They banked on the windows and their Australian shepherd barked at them before they left.

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But then they came back — one sat on their fence, another perched in their tree.

One of them was particularly stubborn it growled and bared its teeth as the couple used a bear horn to try to scare them off.

The cougars’ behaviour wasn’t considered “abnormal” enough for the Conservation Officer Service to intervene.

April 5: Deer jumping and headbutting a man outside Smithers hotel goes viral

Caught on camera: Surprise headbutt from deer outside B.C. hotel
Caught on camera: Surprise headbutt from deer outside B.C. hotel

Cary McCook had just hopped out of a co-worker’s truck at the Stork Nest Inn in Smithers when a deer leapt, headbutted him and knocked him down in a surveillance video that drew many thousands of views.

The deer was apparently being chased by a dog.

“I find it more hilarious the more I watch it,” McCook said.

April 21: Pair of cougars spotted on SkyTrain tracks in Port Moody

Security camera captures cougars walking on Port Moody Skytrain tracks
Security camera captures cougars walking on Port Moody Skytrain tracks

Another day, another cougar encounter in the Tri-Cities Area.

SkyTrain surveillance video showed two adult cougars walking along the tracks through an Evergreen Line station in Port Moody at about 4:10 a.m.

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Officials weren’t immediately certain of how the cats ended up on the tracks.

May 5: Rare golden sturgeon caught in the Fraser River

B.C. fisherman catches rare sturgeon
B.C. fisherman catches rare sturgeon

Two fishermen who were scouting the Fraser River for a new fishing business came upon a stunning discovery: a sturgeon covered in “vivid, golden spots and golden plates on its skull.”

Normally, sturgeons are gray or white.

The fish was just under six feet long, meaning it was approximately 20-years-old. Sturgeon are known to live for over a century.

The discovery was released back into the river.

May 21: Sea lion pulls young girl into water off Steveston Wharf in Richmond, B.C.

Caught on camera: sea lion pulls girl into water in Richmond, B.C.
Caught on camera: sea lion pulls girl into water in Richmond, B.C.

One of the most shocking animal stories of the year happened at Steveston Wharf, where a girl was pulled into the water by a sea lion.

And it was all caught on tape.

As the girl sat down on the dock, the sea lion reached up with its mouth and dragged her in before a member of her family jumped in to fish her out.

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The girl had a “superficial wound,” according to the Vancouver Aquarium.

June 15: Bear casually opens door of parked van in Whistler

Video captures B.C. black bear opening van door
Video captures B.C. black bear opening van door

Just as the raptors learned to open doors in Jurassic Park, bears appear to have learned how to open vehicles in Whistler.

That was certainly true of a black bear that was seen opening a van door and then spent about 12 minutes inside.

June 26: Canuck the Crow visits East Vancouver McDonald’s, helps himself to people’s meals

Canuck the Crow pulls off new stunt in restaurant
Canuck the Crow pulls off new stunt in restaurant

He’s been a fixture at Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), and his face adorns a t-shirt.

But earlier this year, Canuck the Crow added to his fame when he visited a McDonald’s on Hastings and Cassiar Streets, where he walked on tables and helped himself to diners’ food.

July 5: Swimmers scramble out of the way of orcas at West Vancouver’s Whytecliff Park

Up close and personal with orcas in West Vancouver
Up close and personal with orcas in West Vancouver

Swimmers at Whytecliff Park had a bit of a surprise in July when a pod of orcas approached them.

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The swimmers hopped out of the water and on to the rocks as fast as they could.

July 11: Behold, a pink horse: mom in B.C. wildfire zone laughs hysterically after son’s paint job

Horses are seen on a hobby farm in Likely, B.C. in this undated handout photo.
Horses are seen on a hobby farm in Likely, B.C. in this undated handout photo. Cindy Roddick

Wildfires were raging. Communities were being evacuated.

Amid the chaos, Likely, B.C. resident Cindy Roddick thought that everyone could use a good laugh.

So she shared the story of how she told her son to spray-paint her phone number on the family’s two horses in case they had to be released during an evacuation.

Her son didn’t quite follow instructions — he painted their horse Rosie pink from head to hoof, prompting Roddick to exclaim, “What the hell happened to my horse?”

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Luckily, the paint could be washed off with water.

July 20: Eagle swoops down and grabs hen, neighbour’s cows try to help

In Deroche, a community east of Mission, an eagle was spotted swooping down and grabbing a hen right off the ground.

The hen had some help. A neighbour’s cows appeared to corner the eagle and chase it off.

But that wasn’t enough in the end. The eagle made off with its prey.

July 24: Baby beavers recovering after getting covered in illegally dumped motor oil

Baby beavers found covered in oil
Baby beavers found covered in oil

A video circulated by the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley showed two beavers grooming themselves after they were doused in motor oil.

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The oil was eventually washed out of their fur.

But the video served as a reminder of how not to dispose of oil.

Nov. 23: 1 cuddled close, 1 was on guard and 1 looked for food: how 3 dogs helped Annette Poitras survive

Missing dog walker found alive after two days in Coquitlam backcountry
Missing dog walker found alive after two days in Coquitlam backcountry

One of the most emotional stories of the year involved the rescue of Annette Poitras, a dog walker who spent over two days lost in the Coquitlam backcountry.

Poitras was walking three dogs in a watershed area when she fell and lost her cellphone.

It would be days before search and rescue personnel found her. And in the meantime, collie Chloe, boxer Roxy and puggle Bubba stayed by her side, cuddling with her, standing on guard and ultimately helping to keep her alive.

“We can learn a lot of things from dogs,” Annette’s husband Marcel Poitras said.

Nov. 25: Impatient Vancouver Island dog leans on horn to tell owners to get moving

This dog is not impressed.
This dog is not impressed. Elizabeth Herman/Facebook

Not. Impressed.

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The only way to describe the expression on the face of a dog that waited for its owner in a vehicle at Nanaimo’s Beban Park.

A video posted on Facebook showed the dog leaning on a horn, as if to rush its owner back from whatever else was being attended to.

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