TULSA, Okla. — A stray dog that survived a veterinarian's attempts to euthanize him in Oklahoma became a canine celebrity and a red kangaroo that wears clothes hopped into the national headlines in 2011.
A local veterinarian tried to euthanize an abandoned puppy named Wall-E — twice. But the pup got a new, er, leash on life in February, after he was discovered abandoned in a trash bin by a veterinarian technician.
Within days of hearing Wall-E's resurrection tale — he was featured on "Good Morning America" — thousands of folks expressed interest in adopting him and hundreds of dollars in donations rolled in to help him with his medical care.
By late May, the shelter announced that it had finally placed Wall-E in a new home with out-of-towners who wanted to remain anonymous. Amanda Kloski, the veterinarian technician at Arbuckle Veterinarian Clinic in Sulphur who had been caring for the dog, said Wall-E's story made more people aware of shelter overcrowding and the need to find homes for stray animals.
Overcrowding at the local shelter in Sulphur, about 80 miles south of Oklahoma City, still remains a problem.
Like Wall-E, Irwin the kangaroo came with a hard-luck story. He fractured his neck and suffered brain damage when he ran into a fence. Broken Arrow resident Christie Carr stepped forward to take the exotic beast in and nurse him back to health. Soon, Carr and Irwin formed a strong bond, with Carr lobbying the Tulsa suburb to create an exotic animal ordinance exemption that allowed the red kangaroo to stay within city limits.
"Irwin is my life," Carr told the Broken Arrow City Council. "My life centers around him. Irwin has brought me out of my shell."
The marsupial rides in a car seat and wears a shirt and pants. Carr feeds him salad, raw veggies, kangaroo chow, popcorn and the occasional Cheez-Its or a handful of Cheetos.
Oklahoma also had its share of quirky political tales this year, starting with Mary Fallin, the state's first female governor. As she was sworn in outdoors on a cold January day, Fallin told Oklahoma Chief Justice Steven W. Taylor that she would "support, obey and offend" — instead of defend — the U.S. and state constitutions.
"She dropped the 'd'," Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said. "I was amazed that anyone was able to speak at all or get any of their lines right considering how cold it was outside."
About 100 or so miles up the turnpike, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett clashed with city councilors over how to clean up the snow from a massive blizzard that buried the city for days.
Bartlett, an oilman and son of a former governor who took office in 2009, said his administration did enough to help dig Tulsans out. The council said the city didn't have enough snow plows or road salt.
"Just with the fact we are in Tulsa, Oklahoma, first of all, this kind of event is very unique for us to experience," Bartlett told AP in an interview. "There were no deaths, no major accidents, really no minor accidents of any consequence."
But plenty on the council had a beef with how the storm cleanup was handled.
Then-councilman Roscoe Turner, a retired city employee, said he was told by some city workers that they were ordered by supervisors to "get out and drive their lanes but don't do anything."
"Just get out and be seen, but they didn't give them any salt," Turner said.
In Tahlequah, there was plenty of political bickering in the race to become the next principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, the state's largest American Indian tribe. Things got especially tricky after a June election and separate vote counts that declared incumbent Chad Smith and longtime Cherokee councilman Bill John Baker the winner — twice. Another election was ordered by the Cherokee Nation's Supreme Court, and Baker cruised to victory by nearly1,600 votes in the October contest.
Oklahoma also found itself injected into several national storylines in 2011, including the FBI's search for the mysterious airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper and the last days of explorer Amelia Earhart.
In March, researchers at the University of Oklahoma said that even though tests failed to prove bone fragments found on a remote South Pacific island were the remains of Earhart, that didn't mean the search was over. Scientists at OU attempted to detect human DNA from three bone fragments, but the tests were inconclusive.
In August, Oklahoma City-area resident Marla Cooper said her late uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, was D.B. Cooper — the man who hijacked a plane in November 1971 and parachuted with $200,000 in ransom cash into a rainy night over the Pacific Northwest. He has never been found.
Cooper said she recently recounted for the FBI her recollection of a Thanksgiving holiday in 1971 at her grandmother's home in Sisters, Ore.
While federal investigators say solving the hijacking is a low priority because present-day criminals pose a greater threat, the case holds a prominent place in American folklore because it features a guy who pulled off an incredible heist and got away with it.