Dolphins Save Swimmers From Shark

Man's best friend swims in the ocean, at least in New Zealand.

Four lifeguards were in the water 100 yards off Ocean Beach in New Zealand's semi-tropical far north Oct. 30 when a pod of seven dolphins suddenly surrounded them.

"They started to herd us up," lifeguard Rob Howes told the New Zealand Press Association. "They pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us."

Howes tried to break out of the group, but two big dolphins pushed him back.

It soon became clear why — a 10-foot great white shark (search) was heading right for them.

"I just recoiled," said Howes. "It was only about two meters [six feet] away from me. The water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face."

Howes didn't tell the other lifeguards, who included his 15-year-old daughter Niccy, about the shark right away. To them, it was the dolphins that were scary.

"They just started circling us and banging their tails on the water," said lifeguard Karina Cooper. "It freaked me out."

A fifth lifeguard, Matt Fleet, came up in a patrol boat, dove in — and also spotted the shark.

"Some of the people later on the beach tried to tell me it was just another dolphin," said Fleet, "but I knew what I saw."

Eventually, the shark swam away, and so did the dolphins.

The lifeguards waited three weeks to go public with their story because they did not want the shark to be hunted down and killed.

Dr. Rochelle Constantine of Auckland University (search) wasn't surprised at the dolphins' behavior.

"They like to help the helpless," she said.

— Thanks to Out There readers Dennis R. and Marty S.

Utah City to Allow Cross-Species Cohabitation

PROVO, Utah (AP) —The truth about cats and dogs in this city is that they aren't allowed to live in the same house. But that's about to change.

Current city law allows residents to own up to two dogs or two cats at the same time — but not a dog and a cat together. After getting complaints, the City Council is expected to change the law next month.

The problem was discovered when Susan Sewell and her family went to the Utah County Animal Shelter in Spanish Fork to adopt a kitten in August. The family already has a cat and a dog.

They chose a kitten and began filling out the adoption paperwork.

But when shelter staff learned of their existing pets, the family was told they couldn't have the new animal, because Provo only allowed residents to have cats or dogs, not cats and dogs.

"I know people can't be having five, six, seven animals running around," Sewell said. "But if you are a responsible pet owner, why limit it to two? If you have two dogs, your kid can't ever have a cat."

Fake Cop Car Does the Job

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) — Rick Pyburn was sick and tired of lead-footed motorists speeding past his home. Already, he had lost five chickens to hit-and-run drivers passing by at speeds well above posted limits.

Pyburn tried calling the police about his troubles — but with a strapped budget, the Benton County Sheriff's Office couldn't do much to help him out.

"They're so busy patrolling, they don't have the time to sit there," he said.

Then, one day, as he watched a sheriff's car cruise by his house, Pyburn got an idea.

With the help of a local sign company, he built the front half of a two-dimensional plywood Benton County sheriff's car, and set up the decoy in some bushes near the road, in plain view of oncoming drivers.

"Once I placed that on the highway, it was amazing," he said. "The traffic immediately slowed down."

Pyburn knows that some motorists may have figured out that the car is a fake, but swears they still slow down when they see the car, which is complete with a cut-out of Pyburn's face in the "window," warning them to slow down.

"I didn't want it to be exactly like a police car, so there's a little humor there" he said. "But it's enough like a police car that it puts a little bit of doubt in people's minds."

Pyburn and his neighbors have appreciated the effect of the cut-out car so much that a newer, better faux sheriff's car is in the works.

This time he's shooting for more realism in size and shape, Pyburn said, and the updated model will be made of a weatherproof composite material. He plans to market copies of the car for residents in both city neighborhoods and rural areas.

The Benton County Sheriff's Office doesn't mind the imposter, though they would like to have more deputies on duty so that residents did not have to resort to such ingenuity, said Benton County Undersheriff Diana Simpson.

Conductor Misses Own Train

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Even employees of the famously punctual Swiss railroads can miss a train.

Last week, a train left the station at Aigle, in the French-speaking west of Switzerland, without its conductor and with its doors wide open, the Swiss railroad company confirmed Tuesday.

The conductor, an unidentified woman, hailed a cab and was finally able to rejoin the train at Bex — some 6 miles further down the track — where it had stopped to wait for her, the Swiss daily Le Matin reported.

The taxi driver said he laughed when the conductor explained what had happened.

"This pretty young lady with curly blonde hair was still carrying her machine for selling tickets," Joel Gillieron told Le Matin. "In 10 years of taxi driving, I've never seen anything like that!"

Gillieron said he charged the conductor $29.15 for the journey to Bex.

Just What the World Needs

HOUSTON (AP) — As if a plain old thong wasn't enough to accentuate what isn't covered, a Rice University (search) MBA student has shed some neon light on the skin with a glow-in-the-dark version.

Beau Carpenter, an avid runner who also works at NASA, initially thought of creating glow-in-the-dark jogging clothes, but practicality evaporated when thongs captured his attention during his Internet research.

He enlisted Chris Harris, an electrical engineering student at Rice, and Marcus Brocato, a chemistry lab manager at the Houston private university, to develop the GloThong.

"Being guys, it didn't take us long to gravitate to them," Carpenter told the Houston Chronicle in Sunday's editions. "My co-workers find it endlessly entertaining."

The thongs have lightweight, water-resistant batteries that, when fully charged, illuminate the straps for two hours in various neon colors, including blue, pink and yellow.

Wearers can use a wall adapter to charge them up, but car chargers are available for those on the go.

They were a hit when the team recently took their invention to a topless bar in Dickinson.

"The women liked the product so much that they lined up to give us their real names and cell numbers," Carpenter said.

The thong will be available for $49.95 by mid-December, but the group intends to expand their offerings to include luminescent bras and bikinis.

"We're selling attention," Carpenter said. "You kind of feel like Cinderella until the Glo runs out."

A Marriage Made in Heaven

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — There may not have been room at the inn, but they'd better make room at the altar.

Shortly after a Friday performance of the Nativity at the Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma, Dan Larson, portraying Joseph, got down on one knee and asked Amanda Thaut, "Will you marry me?"

Thaut, who played Mary, quietly gasped, "Yes."

The audience at the Pantages Theater was stunned. One of the wise men pumped his fist in the air and the shepherds and angels could barely contain their enthusiasm.

"I started planning it more than a year ago," Larson, 25, said later. "I wanted to make it something very special. Every part of my life is better because of her."

Despite her surprise, Thaut had an inkling some weeks earlier he was close to popping the question.

"I had a dream about it," said Thaut, 26.

Larson kept his plan from all but a trusted few, but their affections were no secret.

"It's been blossoming for a while," artistic director and choreographer Damaris Caughlan said. "They've been dating for at least two or three years."

And, there was a special chemistry at work on stage, Caughlan said.

"They've both danced that role separately but with different partners," she said. "This is the first time they've done it together. Everybody was really excited about that."

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to