It's time to get nostalgic as we look back on the stories that moved us in the last 12 months — the ones that made us smile or maybe even get a little teary and reminded us there truly are a lot of good people doing good things in the world.
Here's a look at many of the tales that made us feel good in 2018:
A different kind of signing day
In spring, high schools typically celebrate athletes signing letters of intent and seniors waving college acceptance letters. But one Virginia school system wanted to celebrate a different life-changing event for students who weren't heading to college. In Henrico County, public school administrators held a ceremony honoring students who were getting jobs or apprenticeships right after graduation. The students met with representatives from their future places of employment and signed letters outlining what they and the employers would expect from each other. The unusual signing day hit a chord with students, parents and readers.
A snowy nighttime meeting
In surveillance footage captured at a marina in Cobourg, Ontario, a young fox had an unusual encounter with a snowy owl. The video shows the unlikely duo meeting on an untouched stretch of snow. The fox was very excited, twirling and leaping around the owl, who didn't seem to share his new friend's enthusiasm. Readers were moved by their brief but memorable meeting.
Entranced by the galgo
There's an ancient dog breed called the galgo that captivated the attention of several rescuers and travelers. We told the story of Tina Solera, who moved to Spain where she had an instant connection with the noble, gentle dogs that wander the streets. She created a rescue for them and found homes for many of these "ghost" dogs. After meeting a galgo on the streets of Atlanta, Scott Gulledge and George Knott brought four of the dogs home to the U.S. They have since formed an advocacy group for galgos and podencos, a similar breed.
Secrets in the ice
A ski with a leather binding was recovered from an ice patch in the Norwegian mountains. Analysis later determined that the artifact dates back to the year 700. (Photo: Secrets of the Ice/Oppland County Council)
As mountain ice melts in Norway, ancient artifacts that had been preserved and hidden for hundreds of thousands of years have become uncovered at an unprecedented rate. Due to climate change, archaeologists have been working to round up finds including tunics from the Iron Age, arrowheads dating back 1,500 years, and even the remains of a wooden ski dating to the year 700. The fascinating discoveries have been unearthed in the ice, which has acted as an unusual time machine. Some of the oldest objects were dropped more than 6,000 years ago.
A musical delivery surprise
When pizza delivery driver Bryce Dudal showed up at a Detroit front door, the teen saw a baby grand and asked if he could sit down and play. The family agreed and the self-taught Dudal trotted out some impressive Beethoven. Fortunately the family recorded the performance and we all got to watch.
Cleaning up ocean plastic
We've closely followed the story of Boyan Slat, who was just a Dutch teen when he first came up with a way to clean up ocean plastic. In October, Slat's trash-collecting booms started picking up plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. According to Slat's estimates, his booms will collect about half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within five years, and should collect about 90 percent by 2040.
A coyote encounters a wily deliveryman
An urban coyote was caught stealing newspapers. (Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch/Urban Coyote Initiative)
Urban coyotes aren't usually welcome visitors; they often have unpleasant encounters with their neighbors. When one newspaper deliveryman was called about missing papers, he found a curious coyote was to blame. The coyote picked up the papers and tossed them about, having fun with her daily delivered toys. So the smart delivery guy came up with a clever solution to keep everybody happy.
Angry dog grudgingly finds love
When his owner dumped him at a shelter, it was no wonder little Pomeranian mix Negra didn't want anything to do with people. The angry pup snapped at the rescue worker who tried to snuggle him but eventually gave in, putting his head on her shoulder and asking to be loved.
Spectacular trail across Chile
Chile thrilled those with serious wanderlust — whether in person or just admiring from afar — by opening an incredible 1,740-mile hiking trail, connecting the country's 17 national parks. Called the Route of Parks, the trail offers travelers access to the Andes Mountain, forests and even a few volcanoes.