Category: Musings

There’s more to a dog’s whiskers than we imagined!

A fascinating article.

The following was sent to me by Chris Gomez, brother of Dan, who I have known for nearly as long as Dan (and that’s a long time)!

The article appeared on ZME Science was published on the 15th January. It contains material that I, for one, didn’t know and I suspect I’m not the only one.

Have a read.

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Why do dogs have whiskers?

Whiskers allow dogs to “see” things that are literally under their noses.

By Tibi Puiu

Credit: Pixabay

Many mammals, including canines, have whiskers. Some dog owners think these whiskers are just longer unruly hairs that can be groomed and even snipped off entirely — but this would be a huge mistake. The whiskers, technically known as “vibrissae”, serve important specialized functions that help dogs sense the world around them and coordinate their movement.

Humans sense touch through millions of sensory receptors that line the skin and deeper tissue. Unlike humans, the follicles of the coarse hairs protruding from a dog’s muzzle, jaw and above its eyes are also packed with nerves that relay sensory information.

Essentially, these whiskers allow dogs to sense objects and the world around them as humans do with fingers.

What are a canine’s whiskers good for

Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The tactile sensation is made possible thanks to Merkel cells, which are specialized skin receptors associated with nerve terminals. A dog’s mouth and snout are very rich in Merkel cells, according to a study published in the journal Veterinary Science.

According to researchers, these tactile hairs serve a variety of functions. For instance, the whiskers allow dogs to gather information from subtle changes in air currents about size, shape, and speed of nearby objects. Ultimately, this allows canines to see their surroundings better, even in dark. It’s well known that vision isn’t a dog’s strong point, so their vibrissae greatly assist them — especially when dealing with close objects (dogs are farsighted). Whiskers beneath the chin allow dogs to “see” objects obstructed by their snouts.

Whisker’s positioned immediately above the eyes are particularly important for vision. When an object or strong airflow causes these whiskers to flex, dogs will reflexively blink in order to protect their eyes.

It’s not clear whether dogs use their whiskers for food acquisition. However, if they’re anything like rats, seals, and walruses — all related species that have been shown to use their whiskers to find food — dogs might very well use their sensing hairs for this purpose, too.

A dog’s whiskers can also serve an important role in communication with other canines or other species. Like many other mammals, when a dog is threatened it will automatically flare its whiskers, pointing them in a forward direction. This signals to predators and other aggressive animals that the dog is ready to defend itself and respond with violence.

Dogs may use their whiskers to also disperse pheromones, keep their head upright when swimming, and monitor their environment.

About 40% of a canine’s visual cortex (the part of the brain responsible for processing vision) is devoted to mapping information from whiskers. They’re that important!

What you need to know about your dog’s whiskers

Credit: Pxfuel.

Although they might look similar, vibrissae are distinct from body hair. The main difference is that a dog’s whiskers are directed by the nervous system and contain nerves.

Unlike cats, which have four rows of whiskers on either side of a cat’s face, the placement of a dog’s whiskers is less predictable. Some have a multitude of vibrissae, others may have few or even none. You should find them above the eyes, on both sides of the muzzle, above the upper lip (pointing down) and beneath the dog’s chin.

According to scientists, there are no breed-specific differences in canine whiskers. An exception may involve hairless breeds, which have no whiskers at all.

That being said, you should never trim your dog’s whiskers. Some pet owners believe their dogs’ whiskers should be groomed and snip them for aesthetic purposes.

This practice won’t hurt the dog, because there are no pain receptors found in whiskers. However, given the multitude of functions they serve, a whisker-less dog will become confused, disorientated, and less able to navigate its spatial surroundings. If you cut your dog’s whiskers in the past out of ignorance, know at least that they will grow back naturally.

In summary, dogs use their whiskers as a sort of radar to detect objects that they cannot properly see with their own eyes.

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Apart from the fact that the photographs are gorgeous there is much material that is good to know. For instance, I never knew there were no breed-specific differences in canine whiskers. Just hadn’t thought about it before.

Thank you, Chris, for a great link!

Dog rescuers are a great bunch of people!

I was reminded of this earlier yesterday.

Yesterday and today are days where it’s my turn to do the neighborhood watch patrols. I left for the first patrol a little after 9am yesterday and when I was going up Livingston Drive there was a guy walking his Corgi. Now it’s the second time we have met and I stopped and let the sweet dog come up to my outstretched hand and sniff my fingers. John, not his real name, mentioned that he was slowly adapting to a life of love and affection in stark contrast to the beatings the dog received in his previous life. John was a real hero!

Here’s another example of goodness beyond description. Taken from The Dodo.

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Dog Found On Side Of Road Immediately Snuggles Her Rescuer

Photo Credit: Kris Lenker

Kris Lenker and her husband were driving home from work last week when they spotted something on the road ahead.

They assumed, being out in the country, that the small, tan animal was a baby deer — but as they got closer, they realized their mistake. “We slowed down and realized that it was a dog,” Lenker told The Dodo.

Lenker hopped out of the car and called to the dog, but the nervous pup took off down a pathway. Lenker followed close behind, tempted to turn around. “I couldn’t see her anymore and we almost left,” Lenker said. “I just had a feeling, though.”

Photo Credit: Kris Lenker

Lenker found the dog hiding behind a fence, and after a few minutes of gentle pets, the nervous dog decided to take a chance. “She wrapped her front paws around my neck and let me carry her back to the car,” Lenker said. “She was absolutely terrified, but I could tell she trusted me … It just felt like we were brought together for a reason.”

Shortly after the dog entered the car, her demeanor changed. It was as if she knew she was finally safe. “I just pet her and told her I had her,” Lenker said. “That is when she just collapsed into a ball in my lap. It’s like relief just hit her. She rode the rest of the way home in my lap like that.”

Photo Credit: Kris Lenker

While she decompresses and regains her strength, the dog, whom the couple has named Reba, is hanging out in a warm bathroom. When she’s up to it, she’ll get to meet her new dog siblings, who will show her the rules of the house.

And Reba is still just as affectionate as the first day they found her: “Belly rubs are her favorite, and she doesn’t hesitate to ask for them!” Lenker said. “She rolls on her back and paws at us until we give in.”

Reba was initially resistant to being rescued, but now she doesn’t want to leave — even to go outside for potty training. She demands that her mom carries her outside and back in every time.

Photo Credit: Kris Lenker

“I think she is still afraid she will be left out there,” Lenker said.

It’s only been a few days, but already Reba has been putting on weight and learning what it means to have a real family. “Her energy level is so much better and she is the biggest love bug,” Lenker said. “All she wants to do is snuggle us and give us kisses. It’s her favorite thing to do.”

Lenker believes they were truly meant to have Reba as part of their family. “She wouldn’t let anyone get near her, but she let us take her,” Lenker said. “She trusts us so much and we have fallen in love.”

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She trusts us so much and we have fallen in love.” What a fabulous end result.

There are so many loving people out there that would do the same. It’s an honour to present this account.

It’s amazing what your bladder will do for you!

This is a delightful story.

It was published on the Majestic Animals website and I hope republishing it is OK.

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Dog accidentally runs half-marathon after being let out for pee, finishes 7th

Sports are great for the health and running is the best way to keep you in a good shape. But I just can’t imagine to train hard for a 13 miles marathon, only to have a dog beat you. Well, that is exactly what happened with most of the Elkmont Trackless Train Half Marathon runners, in Alabama.

Ludivine, a 2 years old Bloodhound was out for a pee when she spotted all those guys running. And since there wasn’t any rule to say that only humans re allowed to participate, the quick thinker pup joined the marathon. Surprisingly, that wasn’t all as the doggy not just finished the run, but she even got a medal.

The adorable dog who finished seventh in the race, even had some pit stops!

She finished in just over an hour-and-a-half. Her owner April Hamlin said:

“All I did was open the door, and she ran the race on her own accord. My first reaction was that I was embarrassed and worried that she had possibly gotten in the way of the other runners. She’s laid back and friendly, so I can’t believe she ran the whole half marathon because she’s actually really lazy.”

Jim Clemens, who finished fourth in the half marathon said, “Every time I thought she had dropped off to go back home, I would hear her coming back up to me and she would race past me up to the two leaders. She would run off to romp through the streams and into yards to sniff around for a while.”

After the week I’ve had, I so needed this story! Check the video below!

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Again and again our love for dogs comes across!

Those eyes!

Now to the wolf’s eyes!

I have written quite a few times about the eyes of dogs but never the wolf.

This was sent to me by Julie Thomas-Smith, the wife of my best friend, Richard Maugham, and it is just beautiful.

It comes from the Wolf Conservation Center and when one goes across to that website then one reads:

A wolf’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. Did you know that wolves possess certain ocular characteristics that allow them to communicate with other members of their species using their eyes alone? One can guess that this gives a new meaning to the common phrase “puppy-dog eyes!”

Enjoy your weekend.

A New Start!

This has nothing to do with dogs.

Well not in a direct manner.

But all dog owners know that the odds of anxiety or depression if you have a dog or two around one are greatly reduced.

I’m chairing a discussion on depression at our local Humanists and Freethinkers group in eighteen days time; on January 18th, 2020. The core of my talk is a TED Talk given journalist Johann Hari in July of 2019.

This is how the talk is introduced.

In a moving talk, journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world — as well as some exciting emerging solutions. “If you’re depressed or anxious, you’re not weak and you’re not crazy — you’re a human being with unmet needs,” Hari says.

There are sufficient numbers of people who follow this blog that it is likely that this talk will really engage a few of you. It’s twenty minutes long and very interesting!

I hope you find it engaging!

A Very Happy New Year to you!

The early beginnings.

Science has maybe found a clue to the ancestor of the dog and the wolf.

For an animal that means so much to us humans, the origins of the dog are still uncertain. Indeed, as this interesting article shows, the origins of the wolf are uncertain.

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Was This 18,000-Year-Old Puppy Frozen in Siberian Permafrost the Ancestor of Wolves, Dogs or Both?

DNA tests on the well-preserved remains can’t determine whether the little canine was wild or domestic

(Sergey Fedorov/NEFU)

By Jason Daley, smithsonianmag.com
Dec. 3, 2019, 10 a.m.”>December 3, 2019

Meet Dogor, an 18,000-year-old pup unearthed in Siberian permafrost whose name means “friend” in the Yakut language. The remains of the prehistoric pup are puzzling researchers because genetic testing shows it’s not a wolf or a dog, meaning it could be an elusive ancestor of both.

Locals found the remains in the summer of 2018 in a frozen lump of ground near the Indigirka River, according to the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk. Parts of the animal are incredibly well-preserved, including its head, nose, whiskers, eyelashes and mouth, revealing that it still had its milk teeth when it died. Researchers suggest the animal was just two months old when it passed, though they do not know the cause of death.

The pup is so well-preserved that researchers at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Sweden were able to sequence the animal’s DNA using a piece of rib bone. The results found that Dogor was male, but even after two rounds of analysis the team could not determine whether he was a dog or a wolf.

“It’s normally relatively easy to tell the difference between the two,” David Stanton, a Centre for Palaeogenetics research fellow, tells Amy Woodyatt at CNN. “We have a lot of data from it already, and with that amount of data, you’d expect to tell if it was one or the other. The fact that we can’t might suggest that it’s from a population that was ancestral to both—to dogs and wolves.”

The find is exciting, regardless of whether Dogor turns out to be a common canine ancestor, an early dog, or an early wolf. Hannah Knowles at The Washington Post reports that Dogor comes from an interesting time in canine evolution, when wolf species were dying out and early dogs were beginning to emerge.

“As you go back in time, as you get closer to the point that dogs and wolves converge, [it becomes] harder to tell between the two,” Stanton tells Knowles.

(Sergey Fedorov/NEFU)

The history of just how and when dogs split from wolves is unresolved. There’s a general agreement among scientists that modern gray wolves and dogs split from a common ancestor 15,000 to 40,000 years ago, explains Brian Handwerk previously for Smithsonian.com. How dogs became dogs, however, is contested. Some research suggests that dogs were domesticated by humans once, while other studies have found dogs were domesticated multiple times. Exactly where in the world wild canines became man’s best friend is also disputed. The origin of the human-animal bond has been traced to Mongolia, China and Europe.

Scientists disagree about how dogs ended up paired with people, too. Some suspect humans captured wolf pups and actively domesticated them. Others suggest that a strain of “friendly,” less aggressive wolves more or less domesticated themselves by hanging out near humans, gaining access to their leftover food.

Dorgor’s DNA could help unravel these mysteries. The team plans to do a third round of DNA testing that may help definitively place Dogor in the canine family tree, report Daria Litvinova and Roman Kutuko at the Associated Press.

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This is incredibly interesting, don’t you think?

Hopefully I will hear of that third round of DNA testing and, if so, will most definitely share it with you.

It’s a New Year!

Well we have passed the Solstice!

Each year I try and promote the fact that we are in a New Year.

This year’s December Solstice took place at the moment this post was published: 20:19 PST .

Or in the words of EarthSky.org:

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All you need to know: December solstice

Posted by in | December 15, 2019

December solstice 2019 arrives on December 22 at 4:19 UTC.

That’s December 21 for much of North America. High summer for the Southern Hemisphere. For the Northern Hemisphere, the return of more sunlight!

Ian Hennes in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, created this solargraph between a June solstice and a December solstice. It shows the path of the sun during that time period.

Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Meanwhile, on the day of the December solstice, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day and shortest night. The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (That’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time).

No matter where you live on Earth’s globe, a solstice is your signal to celebrate.

When is the solstice? The solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. In 2019, the December solstice comes on December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST. That’s on December 22 at 04:19 Universal Time (UTC). It’s when the sun on our sky’s dome reaches its farthest southward point for the year. At this solstice, the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day and longest night of the year.

To find the time in your location, you have to translate to your time zone. Click here to translate Universal Time to your local time.

Just remember: you’re translating from 04:19 UT on December 22. For example, if you live in Perth, Australia, you need to add 8 hours to Universal Time to find out that the solstice happens on Sunday, December 22, at 12:19 p.m. AWST (Australian Western Standard Time).

Day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the December 2019 solstice (December 22, 2019, at 04:19 UTC). Image via EarthView.

What is a solstice? The earliest people on Earth knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. They built monuments such as Stonehenge in England – or, for example, at Machu Picchu in Peru – to follow the sun’s yearly progress.

But we today see the solstice differently. We can picture it from the vantage point of space. Today, we know that the solstice is an astronomical event, caused by Earth’s tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.

Because Earth doesn’t orbit upright, but is instead tilted on its axis by 23 1/2 degrees, Earth’s Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the sun’s light and warmth most directly. The tilt of the Earth – not our distance from the sun – is what causes winter and summer. At the December solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is leaning most away from the sun for the year.

At the December solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that the sun stays below the North Pole horizon. As seen from 23 1/2 degrees south of the equator, at the imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun shines directly overhead at noon. This is as far south as the sun ever gets. All locations south of the equator have day lengths greater than 12 hours at the December solstice. Meanwhile, all locations north of the equator have day lengths less than 12 hours.

For us on the northern part of Earth, the shortest day comes at the solstice. After the winter solstice, the days get longer, and the nights shorter. It’s a seasonal shift that nearly everyone notices.

Earth has seasons because our world is tilted on its axis with respect to our orbit around the sun. Image via NASA.

Where should I look to see signs of the solstice in nature? Everywhere.

For all of Earth’s creatures, nothing is so fundamental as the length of daylight. After all, the sun is the ultimate source of all light and warmth on Earth.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you can notice the late dawns and early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. You might notice how low the sun appears in the sky at local noon. And be sure to look at your noontime shadow. Around the time of the December solstice, it’s your longest noontime shadow of the year.

In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s opposite. Dawn comes early, and dusk comes late. The sun is high. It’s your shortest noontime shadow of the year.

Around the time of the winter solstice, watch for late dawns, early sunsets, and the low arc of the sun across the sky each day. Notice your noontime shadow, the longest of the year. Photo via Serge Arsenie on Flickr.
Meanwhile, at the summer solstice, noontime shadows are short. Photo via the Slam Summer Beach Volleyball festival in Australia.

Why doesn’t the earliest sunset come on the shortest day? The December solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. But the earliest sunset – or earliest sunrise if you’re south of the equator – happens before the December solstice. Many people notice this, and ask about it.

The key to understanding the earliest sunset is not to focus on the time of sunset or sunrise. The key is to focus on what is called true solar noon – the time of day that the sun reaches its highest point in its journey across your sky.

In early December, true solar noon comes nearly 10 minutes earlier by the clock than it does at the solstice around December 22. With true noon coming later on the solstice, so will the sunrise and sunset times.

It’s this discrepancy between clock time and sun time that causes the Northern Hemisphere’s earliest sunset and the Southern Hemisphere’s earliest sunrise to precede the December solstice.

The discrepancy occurs primarily because of the tilt of the Earth’s axis. A secondary but another contributing factor to this discrepancy between clock noon and sun noon comes from the Earth’s elliptical – oblong – orbit around the sun. The Earth’s orbit is not a perfect circle, and when we’re closest to the sun, our world moves fastest in orbit. Our closest point to the sun – or perihelion – comes in early January. So we are moving fastest in orbit around now, slightly faster than our average speed of about 18.5 miles per second (30 kilometers per second). The discrepancy between sun time and clock time is greater around the December solstice than the June solstice because we’re nearer the sun at this time of year.

Solstice sunsets, showing the sun’s position on the local horizon at December 2015 (left) and June 2016 (right) solstices from Mutare, Zimbabwe, via Peter Lowenstein.

The precise date of the earliest sunset depends on your latitude. At mid-northern latitudes, it comes in early December each year. At northern temperate latitudes farther north – such as in Canada and Alaska – the year’s earliest sunset comes around mid-December. Close to the Arctic Circle, the earliest sunset and the December solstice occur on or near the same day.

By the way, the latest sunrise doesn’t come on the solstice either. From mid-northern latitudes, the latest sunrise comes in early January.

The exact dates vary, but the sequence is always the same: earliest sunset in early December, shortest day on the solstice around December 22, latest sunrise in early January.

And so the cycle continues.

Solstice Pyrotechnics II by groovehouse on Flickr.

Bottom line: The 2019 December solstice takes place on Sunday, December 22, at 04:19 UTC (that’s December 21 at 10:19 p.m. CST; translate UTC to your time). It marks the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day (first day of winter) and Southern Hemisphere’s longest day (first day of summer). Happy solstice, everyone!

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Well for many in the Northern Hemisphere the worst of the winter weather is yet to come.

But at least the days are drawing longer.

Welcome to the start of a New Year!

Into Diamonds

A rare post about a commercial concern.

On December 1st, David Miller emailed me with this:

Hi Paul
We feel honored that you mentioned us in your 2017 article titled “Let Us Always Remember Them”! https://learningfromdogs.com/2017/12/05/let-us-remember-them/

“Susan Combs” has published this post for us, but I was wondering if we could have a new guest post and pay the fees for that post directly to you? We would ghostwrite this, so it would have to published under your name.

Do let me know what you think and what you would charge for this!<

David

I then replied:

David,

I write my blog purely for pleasure, there is no charge.

Having said that, I also try hard not to promote commercial concerns and I’m unsure whether or not this applies to your goodself, I suspect not.

Please give me some further details about your intended article plus some information about yourself.

Regards,

Paul

Well the article came through a couple of days ago and it is a commercial, profit-seeking, company. I’m also in the unknown as to whether there are others in the same vein out there.

But I decided to publish it anyway because, who knows, there may be some out there who are interested in the service.

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A company turns people and pet’s ashes and hair into diamonds

By Melodie Beattie, a motivational author.

These powerful words ring true for the staff at Heart in Diamond (HID), where they make the impossible happen by taking cremated ashes or hair from a loved one or pet and turning it into diamonds.

Heartache led Anita to work with Heart in Diamond to help others

In particular, there is one employee at Heart in Diamond that can personally attest to this quote, and that is Anita Bolton. In 2011, Anita suffered the loss of her beloved husband. She was completely devastated following his death and Central England Cooperative Funeral Care was there to help her make the necessary plans for a memorial service and cremation for him.

Not only did the organization take care of all the arrangements for her, but they also informed her about Heart in Diamond, which is a company that allows people to pay tribute to the deceased by having a diamond created from some of their cremated ashes or a lock of hair. Anita talks about her first introduction to HID:

“I went to collect the ashes and that was when I was given a Heart in Diamond leaflet. I thought it was a beautiful way for me to remember my husband. I had never heard of the process at all. I had a white diamond created and my young son had a blue diamond.”

Anita also said that the beautiful white diamond ring has filled her with love, happiness, and it has created an everlasting bond. She believes that clients who reach out to the company to have their very own cremation diamond made will look at it and be reminded of their eternal love and it will become a treasured keepsake for many generations to come.

The company made such a great impact on Anita, that she decided to work with Heart in Diamond and became the business operations manager. In this role, she actually works very closely with the good people at Central England Cooperative Funeral Care, who are the same ones who helped her in those very dark and dreary days in her life. When talking about the work she does for Heart in Diamond, Bolton says:

“I’m very proud that Heart in Diamond has given me the opportunity to share my experience in a product I truly believe in and work within a dedicated professional caring team.”

If you would like to learn more about Anita, feel free to visit her employee page at the Heart in Diamond website.

HID is committed to providing personalized service

With an incredible combination of genuine love for people and an unerring passion for doing a good job, the team of dedicated professionals at Heart in Diamond was formed in 2005 when it set out to provide an extraordinary experience to every client they serve. According to the company’s About Us page:

“We pride ourselves by offering a personal service for your commemorative diamond.”

All the individuals that make up the HID team share a common vision and passion to demonstrate real care and love, inherent in each and every diamond they create. Some of the guiding principles of the company include:

  • We treat all samples with respect
  • Every customer is an individual and not a number
  • We provide personal service to each customer
  • We are committed to delivering a product of the highest quality
  • We are committed to delivering the best price on the market
  • We are committed to providing the shortest production time
  • We guarantee a genuine product through our unique authentication program.

Creating everlasting bonds worldwide since 2005

Heart in Diamond is a UK-based company that is also recognized as a world-renowned manufacturer of laboratory diamonds. If you or a loved one is dealing with grief from the loss of a close friend, spouse, family member, or even a pet, Heart in Diamond can provide you with unique tribute gifts that last a lifetime.

Carbon is extracted from either the ashes or hair of pets or people. Then, it is exposed to a laboratory-controlled environment that mimics the natural processes deep within the earth in order to grow the sample into a diamond. Lab-grown diamonds from HID are identical to mined diamonds in terms of physical, chemical, and optical properties, but they cost 20 to 30 percent less on average and they are a more ethical choice than conflict diamonds.

When you buy a commemorative diamond from HID, you not only receive a high-quality gem, but your cremation jewelry also serves as a living memory you can pass on to generation after generation.

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I then went across to the website hoping to get some pictures to share with you but they are not clear enough to view here.

But there’s a great deal of information that you may want to consider.

And, to state the obvious, I did not receive any compensation for publishing this.

This is a gorgeous story, and it’s true!

Piper lost and found!

There’s something almost beyond the world of words, pictures and blogging. That’s when a dog goes missing and then is found. Especially if the lover of the dog is a young boy who fears the worst.

Dogs bring out so much that is good in us. Dogs cross gender, age, country and ethnic boundaries.

This is what struck me with some force I will admit when I read this article on the Daily Dodo yesterday. It is republished for your own delight!

Oh, and welcome to Friday the 13th!

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Family Surprises Boy At School With His Lost Dog

So many happy tears 😭❤️️🐶

Photo Credit: Facebook/April Licata

The holidays aren’t about what’s under the tree; it’s who you’re with that matters. And no one understands that better than Carter Licata and his dog, Piper.

The 2-year-old pug loves everyone in her family, but her bond with her brother is special. “It was love at first sight for the two of them,” April Licata, Carter’s mom, told The Dodo.

But the family’s holiday season was nearly destroyed when the unthinkable happened — Piper went missing.

Photo Credit: April Licata

Last month, Licata let Piper and her other dog outside to use the bathroom. But when she opened the door to let them back in, Piper was nowhere to be seen.

The family searched everywhere, posted on social media, and reached out to neighbors and community groups. They prayed for Piper’s safe return, but as days turned to weeks, they feared that they would never see their pug again.

“We were all sick,” Licata said. “The older kids wanted nothing to do with decorating the Christmas tree and it was a very somber Thanksgiving for them.”

Then, Licata received a Facebook message from the Genesee County Animal Shelter. A dog matching Piper’s description had been dropped off at the shelter by a person who wanted to remain anonymous. “My husband and I were going out to dinner and honestly, there was an outcry of joy in the truck,” Licata said. “We were shocked and elated!”

Carter was out of town when they learned about Piper, so they decided to keep it a secret and surprise him with a special reunion when he returned. Piper, meanwhile, wandered around the house looking for her brother, until finally, their reunion day arrived.

Photo Credit: Facebook/April Licata

When Carter saw Piper in the front seat of the truck, decked out in bows, he immediately broke down in tears.

Piper’s tail went crazy at the sight of her brother and as soon as he stepped in the truck, she jumped in his arms, showering him with kisses.

The family couldn’t be happier to have Piper back again — and just in time for Christmas.

“My son loves his dog so much, was sick while she was gone, and tonight she’s sleeping next to him again,” Licata wrote on Facebook. “What a Christmas miracle for our family.”

You can see the heart-warming video below.

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I know that for the main part I just republish the work that others do. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not affected by the articles. This one in particular had me in tears.

Dogs mean so, so much to us!

Out playing in the cold

Another fascinating article.

Indeed, this article from Mother Nature Network has no fewer than six YouTube videos of dogs out in the cold.

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Why dogs love the cold and playing in the snow

By Mary Jo DiLonardo , December 5, 2019

Snow turns your dog’s world into a brand new playground. (Photo: Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock)

When temperatures drop or snow starts to fall, many of us hibernate inside under warm blankets — after stocking up on bread and milk, of course. But not our dogs.

Cold? They love the cold! They run around the yard with heads held high and tails streaming, bucking like frisky foals.

What is it about the cold and snow that makes our canine friends so absolutely bonkers?

“I think it’s just fun. It’s something new. Plus snow is like a brand new toy,” says certified dog trainer and behaviorist Susie Aga of Atlanta Dog Trainer. “They have fur coats on, and they’re warm all the time so they feel good when it’s cold.”
But it’s even more amazing when it snows. That baffling, stupendous, chilling white stuff is for catching, rolling around and racing in. Like this:

Dogs have fun in the snow for probably the same reason little kids have fun in the snow: It changes their usual playground.

“It’s really no different than us humans (particularly children), who find many different forms of entertainment in the winter,” says certified professional dog trainer Katelyn Schutz in Wisconsin Pet Care.

“We toss snowballs, build snow forts, and hurdle ourselves down snowy hills on sleds, skis, and snowboards. It’s no wonder our dogs follow our lead!”

This newness isn’t just what they see, of course, but it’s what they smell and what they feel when they’re outside romping in the snow.

“More than anything, I suspect that the very sensation of snow on the body is engaging for dogs,” Alexandra Horowitz, PhD, author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs, See, Smell, and Know,” tells Scientific American.

“Have you ever run through the shallow waves of the sea? Why does kicking up sand and seawater make us happy? I can’t say. But it is clear that it does.”

Not all dogs love the snow and cold, Aga points out. Hairless breeds shiver and get too cold when exposed to frigid temperatures. (Above all, just pay attention; your dog will let you know if he’s not enjoying the weather.) They might need doggie sweaters or jackets before heading outside to play.

But cold-weather breeds like Siberian huskies, Newfoundlands and great Pyrenees have dense coats and were bred to withstand winter’s wallop.

“For snow dogs, that’s when they come alive,” Aga says. “They become more energetic. It allows them to run and play without getting overheated. They just feel freer in it.”

When your dog is racing and bounding around in the snow yelling, “Wheeeee!” it’s obvious he’s having fun.

“Dogs will play with something that is interesting and moves in a different way — it feels interesting,” Dr. Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist, told the Dodo.

“It’s about novelty and creating different movements — they’re trying to learn what is this thing and what to do with it.”

Plus, snow is really fun to catch.

ooOOoo

That’s a really fun post and a delightful collection of videos.

It’s a truism I know but it still needs saying out loud: Dogs are amazing!