Come to think of it, 2022 did have a few bright spots.
Dog balancing a baby chick on his nose so gently; best feel-good stories in 2022
Credit: Courtesy of von.jakoba / TikTok

Not to be Debbie Downer, but 2022 was yet another rather crummy year for many of us. But amidst the continuing pandemic woes, war, climate chaos, and global civil unrest, there were loads of heartwarming animal stories to give us all a little hope.

We sorted through our files this year and came up with a list of our 10 favorite stories. It includes tales—tails?—of unlikely friendships, a fighter plane, and a monkey named for a beloved star.

So, hey, maybe there were a few bright spots this year.

Rescued Bulldog and Special Needs Chicken Share Adorable Bond

We're suckers for interspecies friendships, but this special relationship between a bulldog named Gus and Lucky, a special needs chicken, makes us melt. The pair's adoptive pet mom, Chandler Coate, says she introduced the pair without much forethought, and at first, both were a bit unsure of one another. But as soon as Lucky realized Gus posed no threat to her, their relationship bloomed.

Gus and Lucky's favorite things to do are eat and sleep (amen), and Lucky follows Gus wherever he goes. Lucky has even taken to mimicking Gus's behavior, clucking when he starts barking. Trust us, this story is something so cute you have to see it for yourself.

Blind, Elderly Dog Reunited With Family After Being Lost in Rural Alaska

When Lulu, a blind, elderly golden retriever went missing in rural Alaska this June, the pup's clan, the Kubacki family, feared the worst. But early in July, a construction crew spotted Lulu and after some R&R, she made a full recovery. To top this amazing story off, local residents helped foot the bill for Lulu's vet care.

Feral Kittens Rescued From Cold War Fighter Jet

cat sitting in cockpit; cats born in plane cockpit
Credit: Courtesy of Hickory Aviation Museum

Felines tend to cuddle up in the most unusual, seemingly uncomfortable places. But these feral kitties, dubbed the T-33 kittens, were holed up with their cat mom in a decommissioned Cold War-era T-33 Shooting Star fighter jet housed at the Hickory Aviation Museum in North Carolina. Luckily, a detachment from the local humane society was able to catch the stowaways and help put them on the path to finding their furever homes.

Fake Titanic Trailer Leaves Cat Lovers Wishing It was Real

Even the cynical among us have a hard time not shedding a tear when Kate is forced to let her beloved Jack sink into the Atlantic near the end of Titanic. But what if Jack had another chance at love, this time, with an adorable, wide-eyed feline beauty? Titled "Titanic with a Cat" and posted on OwlKitty's YouTube, the trailer depicting this would-be romance has been viewed more than 13 million times and earned a whopping 580,000 likes. Just try and watch this video without wishing it was real.

Pack of German Shepherds and Baby Chicks Take Over TikTok

This really was a magical year for canine and avian pals. When a German shepherd breeder decided to hatch some chicks, their six-pack of German shepherds chose to, well, shepherd them into the family. Videos of the chicks and doggo duos went viral, with one video amassing an astonishing (maybe not, given how cute it is) 5 million views. So if you've never seen a dog with a chick balancing on its snout, now's the time.

Baby Betty White Gets Hands-on Care To Help Her Survive

On the last day of 2021, the world lost the iconic Betty White. But her legacy, and enduring love for animals, lives on in the slew of baby animals named after her in 2022.

A severely underweight baby Goeldi's monkey at the Houston Zoo was one of them. Baby Betty needed round-the-clock, hands-on care from the diligent zoo staff to ensure she made it through her first few months of life. While she may have been tiny, baby Betty captured the hearts of thousands of people and went from underdog to social media star overnight.

Hero Dog Ruby Honored in Netflix Movie

Ruby, an Australian shepherd and border collie mix, had a rough start in life, bouncing back and forth between several homes and being deemed "unmanageable." But all Ruby needed was a way to channel her focus and energy and a human willing to help her achieve greatness. Enter Cpl. Daniel O'Neil of the Rhode Island State Police. With extensive training and consistent, gentle guidance, O'Neil helped transform Ruby into a super trooper.

Over the last 10 years the dynamic duo saved three lives, solved murder cases, tracked down numerous criminals, and helped find countless missing people. Ruby even helped rescue the teenage son of an animal welfare volunteer who had rooted for Ruby since she was a troubled pup.

Sadly, Ruby passed away in May. But her story and legacy are documented in the Netflix film Rescued by Ruby.

Cat Comforts Golden Retriever Pup in Heartwarming TikTok Video

Every new mom needs a break sometimes, and golden retriever Olive was no exception. After giving birth to an especially large litter of pups, the fur mom needed an extra paw or two, and Fig the cat was ready and willing. In an adorable TikTok video, one of Olive's pups suddenly becomes distressed, and Fig immediately jumps into action, soothing the distraught pupper. The video, which has now been viewed over 30.1 million times, is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Penguin Parade Hits the Streets in Cincinnati Zoo

Who doesn't love a good parade? But have you ever seen a penguin parade? Earlier this year, the Cincinnati Zoo's king penguins were set free (under supervision, of course) in the zoo's walkways on weekends, much to the delight of the humans they strolled alongside. And in case you weren't able to experience the sheer joy of chilling with these penguins, feel free to join the people who took into the scene 23.7 million times on TikTok.

Ukrainian President Awards Extraordinary Terrier with Service Medal

It's hard not to get behind the story of Patron, a Russell terrier who was awarded a service medal for his work sniffing out hundreds of explosive devices in war-torn Ukraine. By some accounts, Patron identified more than 200 explosive devices in the first few months of the war. Patron also helps educate Ukrainian children about safety in areas that may contain land mines, does charity work, and helps put a furry face to Ukraine's fortitude in their ongoing struggle.