2020: Top ten animal stories from the Border region

There's no doubt about it — this year has been a difficult one. Some of the only good news in Cumbria and the south of Scotland in 2020 came from our furry friends.

And there's no better way to celebrate those stories that put a smile on our face by looking back at the top ten.

From a dramatic RAF rescue of cow to a playful pod of dolphins spotted in Loch Ryan, scroll down for 2020's most heartwarming animal stories.

1. Neigh-cation: The hotel room that comes with its own horse

A farm in south Cumbria has found an unusual way to diversify their business, by letting guests bunk down with horses in their new self-catering accommodation.

At the Fresian Experience, at Carmel, visitors pay to share a converted stable for the night with either Hannes the horse or JB the Shetland pony. Yes, that's right an actual horse sleeping next to your bunk bed. Take a look...

2. 'Tropical bird' turns out to be a gull dyed blue

One of the funniest stories this year has to be the tale of a bird found in Carlisle that was first thought to be a tropical species - but actually turned out to be a seagull covered in blue dye.

The RSPCA came to the aid of the animal that was struggling to fly, at a car park in Carlisle. It spent its recovering in a nearby centre.

Credit: RSPCA

3. Playful pod of dolphins spotted in Loch Ryan

One of our most watched videos this year was from a viewer who captured the moment a playful pod of dolphins swam alongside his boat on Loch Ryan.

Three dolphins were seen jumping out of the water near Stranraer Harbour in Dumfries and Galloway.

4. RAF crew rescue cow stranded in Cumbrian gorge for five days

Not your average rescue! An unusual mission for the RAF in Summer after a cow became trapped near a waterfall in Cumbria.

Crews from RAF Spadeadam and RAF Benson had to airlift the animal that has been stuck on the muddy banks below Crammel Linn, near Brampton, for five days!

5. Stowaway cat travels from south Lancashire to Carlisle in a van

A black cat was the centre of attention in August after the kitty snuck on board a van heading from south Lancashire to Carlisle.

The driver was working in Lancaster, Preston and Chorley, and didn't notice the cat was inside his van until he arrived in north Cumbria. It's thought the friendly feline jumped inside whilst he was working.

Credit: Falcon Veterinary Group

6. The skunk kicking up a stink on his walks in Silloth

Another story that made us all smile this year was of a little skunk called Niffler. Animal lover from Silloth turned a few heads in his hometown after taking the unusual creature for a stroll on the high street.

Niffler is a rescued North American skunk and, despite his smelly reputation, seems very sociable on his walks around the seaside town in Cumbria. Have a watch!

7. Flock of sheep help mark historic moment for Pooley Bridge

After five years, a new multi-million pound bridge was opened in Pooley Bridge five years after the original was swept away during Storm Desmond.

In true Cumbrian fashion, a flock of 150 sheep was herded across the bridge by a local farmer and the footage was incredible.

8. Wasdale MRT rescue St Bernard Daisy on Scafell Pike

Remember this one? Daisy the St Bernard walked to the top of Scafell Pike with her owners, but decided getting down was too much for her.

Not knowing how to get their beloved pet off the fell her owners called for assistance from the Wasdale MRT who were happy to oblige. It took around twenty volunteers to stretcher the 55kg pooch down the mountain. After a very long day, Daisy made a full recovery.

9. Dramatic rescue for Stag after antlers entangled in barbed wire

The week before Christmas, the RSPCA responded to reports of a red stag entangled in barbed wire in north Cumbria.

The impressive animal was trapped by the metal fencing and, in a distressed state, had fallen into the River Lyne, near Longtown.

It took three RSPCA officers, a vet and a farmer to save the life of the deer, which was estimated to weigh around 150kg. The animal was safely released and made a full recovery.

10. Abandoned puppies 'left for dead' making positive recovery

And finally, ten puppies found close to death after being abandoned in the Scottish Borders are now on the road to recovery.

Some of the dogs, found matted and emaciated, were discovered roaming loose near the A68 while others were locked in a derelict building. The puppies settled into new life under the loving care of the Scottish SPCA.

Credit: ITV News