Last month, on a chilly winter day in Nova Scotia, Canada, Bryan Thompson had a chance encounter he won’t soon forget.
While walking through a local park, Thompson saw this: a stranger making his way through the snow, pulling a cart containing the most precious cargo.
Inside, bundled up against the cold, was a cozy white pup.
Speaking to the stranger, Thompson came to learn that the dog has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a spinal cord disorder which can lead to paralysis in dogs. Because of that, she’s unable to get around on her own — but that hasn’t stopped the pair from still taking walks.
The dedicated dog owner crafted the cart to ensure it never does.
In a post online, Thompson described his reaction to that scene.
“I told him he was a great person for doing that, because I know there are many who wouldn’t. He just said that she would do the same for him,” Thompson wrote. “It’s hard to type this without tearing up.”
Afterward, the stranger and his happy dog continued on their way — slipping out of sight, but not out of mind.
Thompson’s account of that touching encounter has since gone viral, inspiring countless others with an example of true love at its finest.
This stranger, who is not named, is just a miraculous person. Plus a caring and loving man. It’s no surprise that the encounter, as described above, has gone viral.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Associate Professor of Outdoor Education, Montreat College
Today Americans live in a world that thrives on being busy, productive and overscheduled. Further, they have developed the technological means to be constantly connected to others and to vast options for information and entertainment through social media. For many, smartphones demand their attention day and night with constant notifications.
As a result, naturally occurring periods of solitude and silence that were once commonplace have been squeezed out of their lives. Music, reality TV shows, YouTube, video games, tweeting and texting are displacing quiet and solitary spaces. Silence and solitude are increasingly viewed as “dead” or “unproductive” time, and being alone makes many Americans uncomfortable and anxious.
We study and teach outdoor education and related fields at several colleges and organizations in North Carolina, through and with other scholars at 2nd Nature TREC, LLC, a training, research, education and consulting firm. We became interested in the broader implications of alone time after studying intentionally designed solitude experiences during wilderness programs, such as those run by Outward Bound. Our findings reveal that time alone in nature is beneficial for many participants in a variety of ways, and is something they wish they had more of in their daily life.
Reflection and challenge
We have conducted research for almost two decades on Outward Bound and undergraduate wilderness programs at Montreat College in North Carolina and Wheaton College in Illinois. For each program, we studied participants’ experiences using multiple methods, including written surveys, focus group interviews, one-on-one interviews and field notes. In some cases, we asked subjects years later to look back and reflect on how the programs had affected them. Among other questions, our research looked at participant perceptions of the value of solo time outdoors.
Our studies showed that people who took part in these programs benefited both from the outdoor settings and from the experience of being alone. These findings build on previous research that has clearly demonstrated the value of spending time in nature.
Scholars in fields including wilderness therapy and environmental psychology have shown that time outdoors benefits our lives in many ways. It has a therapeutic effect, relieves stress and restores attention. Alone time in nature can have a calming effect on the mind because it occurs in beautiful, natural and inspirational settings.
Nature also provides challenges that spur individuals to creative problem-solving and increased self-confidence. For example, some find that being alone in the outdoors, particularly at night, is a challenging situation. Mental, physical and emotional challenges in moderation encourage personal growth that is manifested in an increased comfort with one’s self in the absence of others.
Being alone also can have great value. It can allow issues to surface that people spend energy holding at bay, and offer an opportunity to clarify thoughts, hopes, dreams and desires. It provides time and space for people to step back, evaluate their lives and learn from their experiences. Spending time this way prepares them to re-engage with their community relationships and full work schedules.
Putting it together: The outdoor solo
Participants in programmed wilderness expeditions often experience a component known as “Solo,” a time of intentional solitude lasting approximately 24-72 hours. Extensive research has been conducted on solitude in the outdoors because many wilderness education programs have embraced the educational value of solitude and silence.
Solo often emerges as one of the most significant parts of wilderness programs, for a variety of reasons. Alone time creates a contrasting experience to normal living that enriches people mentally, physically and emotionally. As they examine themselves in relation to nature, others, and in some cases, God, people become more attuned to the important matters in their lives and in the world of which they are part.
Solo, an integral part of Outward Bound wilderness trips, can last from a few hours to 72 hours. The experience is designed to give participants an opportunity to reflect on their own thoughts and critically analyze their actions and decisions.
For some participants, time alone outdoors provides opportunity to consider the spiritual and/or religious dimension of life. Reflective time, especially in nature, often enhances spiritual awareness and makes people feel closer to God. Further, it encourages their increased faith and trust in God. This often occurs through providing ample opportunities for prayer, meditation, fasting, Scripture-reading, journaling and reflection time.
Retreating to lead
As Thomas Carlyle has written, “In (solitary) silence, great things fashion themselves together.” Whether these escapes are called alone time, solitude or Solo, it seems clear that humans experience many benefits when they retreat from the “rat race” to a place apart and gather their thoughts in quietness.
In order to live and lead effectively, it is important to be intentional about taking the time for solitary reflection. Otherwise, gaps in schedules will always fill up, and even people with the best intentions may never fully realize the life-giving value of being alone.
I would modify that advice from Thomas Carlyle and that is to include a dog.
For in my experience when one is in the mood for a bit of solitary reflection your dog seems to sense it as well.
At only 9 days old, a foal named Tye lost his mother. But that same night he gained an unexpected friend — an Australian cattle dog named Zip.
Zip had never shown much interest in his horse siblings. “We raise foals every year, and he would kind of look in the door and just look at them,” Karla Swindle, Zip’s mom, told The Dodo.
But on that fateful night in March, it was as if the 5-year-old rescue dog could tell he was needed.
Tye’s mother became sick days after giving birth, and despite treatment, quickly went downhill. When things looked their bleakest for the mother and baby, Swindle stayed by their side. As always, Zip tagged along after his owner.
“I spent the night at the barn taking care of the mama horse, hoping that I could pull her through,” Swindle said. “Zip stayed with me in the alley of the barn all night — the foal was laying in the alley, and he just lay there beside the foal.”
“He was whining,” Swindle added. “You could tell that Zip knew something was wrong that night.”
The next morning, Tye lost his mother, but he wasn’t alone.
Zip insisted on keeping the newborn horse company, comforting the little animal with his presence. When Zip was around, Tye was relaxed and happy. “It seemed to me that the foal knew that the dog was trying to help him,” Swindle said, “which is so sweet.”
For six weeks, Zip wouldn’t let Tye out of his sight. Whenever Swindle went to feed the foal, Zip was first in line to greet the little horse. “Every time I would take off to the barn, Zip would run to the stall, and stand in front of the stall and wait for me to get there,” Swindle said. “He would beat me to the barn every time.”
“As soon as I opened the door, he would about knock me down before I could get in there,” she added. “If the foal was laying down, he would go over there and lay his head on him.”
As months passed, Tye quickly put on weight, growing into a healthy young horse — in part, thanks to his adoptive dad.
Now, Tye spends most days out in the pasture with his older sister, who is teaching him the ins and outs of being a horse. And while Zip still accompanies Swindle to the barn, he doesn’t beg to go in the stall with Tye anymore.
“The foal is a little rough now,” Swindle said, “raring up, trying to play, so Zip kind of stays away from him now.”
The proud dad understands that Tye needs to test his independence, and it doesn’t make their relationship any less special.
“You could tell that when the foal needed Zip, Zip was there for him,” Swindle said. “And now Zip knows that the foal is OK, so they kind of went their separate ways.”
But it seems the little horse has opened up room in the older dog’s heart — space that he has since filled with another baby.
“He loves my granddaughter,” Swindle said. “Whenever she comes over here, he goes directly to her. He treats her like he did the foal. He just loves to be around her.”
We have mentioned it time and time before. That dogs are so special. And then one comes across an account of something that is even more special.
All of the photographs are delightful but that third one shows the intimacy that is in the relationship. The caring that is being shown by Zip!
I have said it before and no doubt will say it many times more: Dogs are incredibly wonderful.
Sean Coughlan wrote a most delightful piece on the BBC News website the other day.
No matter how many times dogs are referred to it always cheers me up to read about them, especially on a major news website.
Dogs ‘prevent stressed students dropping out’
By Sean Coughlan, BBC News family and education correspondent
July 2nd, 2019
Stress among students really can be reduced by spending time with animals, according to research from the US.
It has become increasingly common for universities to bring “therapy dogs” on to campus – but claims about their benefits have often been anecdotal.
Now, scientists say they have objective evidence to support the use of dogs.
Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress.
The study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted”, helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, she said.
“Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Dr Pendry.
It has also become more common in the UK, with Buckingham, University College London, Cambridge, Nottingham Trent, London Metropolitan and Swansea among those deploying dogs.
The University of Middlesex has even put “canine teaching assistants” on to the staff, to stop lonely students dropping out.
Humans have enjoyed a long history of canine companions. Even if it’s unclear exactly when dogs were first domesticated (and it may have happened more than once), archaeology offers some clues as to the nature of their relationship with humans.
The latest clue suggests that humans living in Southern Europe between 3,600 to 4,200 years ago cared for dogs enough to regularly share their gravesites with them. Barcelona-based researchers studied the remains of 26 dogs from four different archaeological sites on the northeastern Iberian Peninsula.
The dogs ranged in age from one month to six years old. Nearly all were buried in graves with or nearby humans. “The fact that these were buried near humans suggests there was an intention and a direct relation with death and the funerary ritual”, says lead author Silvia Albizuri, a zooarchaeologist with the University of Barcelona, in a press release.
To better understand the dogs’ relationship with the humans they joined in the grave, Albizuri and her colleagues analyzed isotopes in the bones. Studying isotopes—variants of the same chemical element with different numbers of neutrons, one of the building blocks of atoms—can reveal clues about diet because molecules from plants and animals come with different ratios of various isotopes. The analysis showed that very few of the dogs ate primarily meat-based diets. Most enjoyed a diet similar to humans, consuming grains like wheat as well as animal protein. Only in two puppies and two adult dogs did the samples suggest the diet was mainly vegetarian.
This indicates that the dogs lived on food fed to them by humans, the team reports in the Journal of Archaeological Science. “These data show a close coexistence between dogs and humans, and probably, a specific preparation of their nutrition, which is clear in the cases of a diet based on vegetables,” says study co-author Eulàlia Subirà, a biological anthropologist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
The archaeological sites all belong to people of the Yamnaya Culture, or Pit Grave Culture. These nomadic people swept into Europe from the steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. They kept cattle for milk production and sheep and spoke a language that linguists suspect gave rise to most of the languages spoken today in Europe and Asia as far as northern India.
The buried dogs aren’t the oldest found in a human grave. That distinction belongs to a puppy found in a 14,000-year-old grave in modern-day Germany. The care given to that puppy to nurse it through illness was particularly intriguing to the researchers who discovered it. “At least some Paleolithic humans regarded some of their dogs not merely materialistically, in terms of their utilitarian value, but already had a strong emotional bond with these animals,” Liane Giemsch, co-author on a paper about the discovery and curator at the Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt, told Mary Bates at National Geographic in 2018.
The fact that the researchers in the new study found so many dogs in the region they studied indicates that the practice of burying dogs with humans was common at the time, the late Copper Age through the early Bronze Age. Perhaps the canine companions helped herd or guard livestock. What is certain is that ancient humans found the animals to be important enough to stay close to even in death.
That last sentence is precious. “What is certain is that ancient humans found the animals to be important enough to stay close to even in death.”
A family was out riding their bikes one day in South Carolina when they suddenly heard what sounded like a puppy crying. They pulled their bikes over to the side of the road and went to investigate, and were shocked to find a little puppy trapped under a pile of dirt and concrete. Not knowing how else to help, they quickly called 911, and both the police and firefighters with the North Charleston Fire Department responded in hopes that they could free the trapped puppy.
“They showed us where the dog was located,” Captain Paul Bryant, of the North Charleston Fire Department, told The Dodo. “It was piles of concrete 4 foot by 4 foot, some smaller, some bigger. One of the police officers said he could see the dog so we got on our hands and knees to look and saw his nose sticking out of the pile of rubble.”
After moving the concrete slabs out of the way with a pry bar, Captain Bryant attempted to pull the puppy, later named Rocky, out from the remaining dirt and rubble, but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough room. He then took a shovel and started digging, and finally was able to create enough space to pull the confused puppy out to safety. The whole rescue only took about 11 minutes, but no one has any idea how long Rocky had been stuck under there before everyone arrived.
As soon as he was free, little Rocky couldn’t stop licking Bryant’s face in gratitude. The puppy clearly had so much energy and lots of love to give, and everyone immediately fell in love with him — especially Bryant. The family who had initially found Rocky said they would take him to a nearby animal hospital to get checked for a microchip so he could hopefully be reunited with his family, but after he was gone, Bryant just couldn’t get Rocky out of his head.
“I wanted to know if his owner was found, or if the person who found him was going to keep him,” Bryant said. “Once I found out he did not have an owner and the family who found him could not keep him, I knew he was coming home with me.”
Bryant felt connected to Rocky from the second he rescued him from underneath that concrete, and it was as if the pair had always been meant to be together.
Once Rocky had been given a clean bill of health and was ready to head off to his new forever home, Bryant headed over to Charleston Animal Society to pick him up …
… and as soon as Rocky saw his rescuer again, he could barely contain his excitement.
Rocky is now all settled into his new home and couldn’t be happier with how things turned out. He went from being trapped and alone to having the world’s best dad, and everyone involved is so thrilled that Bryant and Rocky ended up together.
“He is a very energetic dog and loves to play fetch with his new toys,” Bryant said. “He is always by my side, never letting me leave the room without following me.”
Time and time again people from all walks of life know something instinctively when it’s in front of them. The love that we humans give to our dogs and the love that they return to us.
In Neolithic times there was an important relationship, as there is today. Maybe our dogs have become more of the ‘pet’ rather than the working dog that they are assumed to be then.
But here’s the article.
Thanks to Facial Reconstruction, You Can Now Look Into the Eyes of a Neolithic Dog
The collie-sized canine was buried in a cavernous tomb on Scotland’s Orkney Islands around 2,500 B.C.
Some 4,500 years ago, a collie-sized dog with pointed ears and a long snout comparable to that of the European grey wolf roamed Scotland’s Orkney Islands. A valued member of the local Neolithic community, the canine was eventually buried alongside 23 other dogs and at least eight humans in a cavernous tomb known as the Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn.
Now, 118 years after archaeologists first chanced upon its resting place, the prized pup’s image is being reimagined. As Esther Addley reports for the Guardian, experts believe the dog is the first canine to undergo forensic facial reconstruction. Its likeness, commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the National Museum of Scotland, is set to go on view in Orkney later this year.
“Just as they’re treasured pets today, dogs clearly had an important place in Neolithic Orkney, as they were kept and trained as pets and guards and perhaps used by farmers to help tend sheep,” Steve Farrar, interpretation manager at HES, explains in a statement. “But the remains discovered at Cuween Hill suggest that dogs had a particularly special significance for the farmers who lived around and used the tomb about 4,500 years ago.”
It’s possible, Farrar adds, that the Neolithic group viewed dogs as their “symbol or totem,” perhaps even dubbing themselves the “dog people.”
Cuween Hill dates to around 3,000 B.C., Sky News reports, but radiocarbon dating places the dog’s actual interment some 500 years later. It remains unclear why the animal was buried so many centuries after the tomb’s creation, but archaeologists posit the timing may point toward the ceremony’s ritual value within the community. As HES observes, the fact that the Orkney residents placed canine remains alongside those of humans could also speak to their belief in an afterlife for both parties.
According to the Scotsman, forensic artist Amy Thornton drew on a CT scan to create a 3-D print of the animal’s skull. After layering clay approximations of muscle, skin and hair onto this base, she cast the model in silicone and added a fur coat designed to mimic that of the European grey wolf. Interestingly, Thornton notes, the process played out much as it would for a human facial reconstruction, although “there is much less existing data” detailing average tissue depth in canine versus human skulls.
The model is the latest in a series of technologically focused initiatives centered on Orkney’s Neolithic residents. Last year, HES published 3-D digital renderings of the chambered cairn on Sketchfab, enabling users to explore the tomb’s four side cells, tall central chamber and entrance passage. First discovered in 1888 but only fully excavated in 1901, the impressive stone structure held 24 canine skulls and the remains of at least eight humans.
In an interview with the Guardian’s Addley, Farrar explains that the reconstruction aims “to bring us closer to who [the dog’s owners] were and perhaps give a little hint of what they believed.”
“When you look at a Neolithic dog, it somehow communicates human relationships,” Farrar concludes. “… I can empathise with the people whose ingenuity made Orkney such an enormously important place. When this dog was around, north-west Europe looked to Orkney.”
“When you look at a Neolithic dog, it somehow communicates human relationships,” Farrar concludes.
Built between 3000 and 2400 BC, this is an excellent example of a Neolithic chambered tomb. It has four cells opening off a central chamber, which is accessed down a passage. Entrance into the tomb today is through the original passage.
Secondary burials at the Cuween Hill could reflect a continued reverence for the site. A recently discovered settlement nearby is probably contemporary with the cairn, and would likely have been connected.
Tomb of the dogs
Exploration at the tomb in 1901 found:
Remains of at least eight humans – five skulls on the floor of the chamber, one at the entrance and two in side cells
The skulls of 24 dogs on the chamber floor
The dog remains suggest the local tribe or family perhaps had a dog as their symbol or totem, or there may have been a belief in an afterlife for animals.
The tomb is completely unlit, which serves to both add to the atmosphere and discourage vandalism and graffiti. It also means the tomb is largely free of green algal growth.
The stonework at Cuween Hill is of particularly high quality. The roof of one of the cells is likely to be original, elsewhere the walls and corbelled roofs have survived to a considerable height.
The first guest post from Holli Why dogs are so good for us was during a period where I had quite a few guest authors and I ended up losing track. Thus I didn’t attribute the guest post to Holli. Something that I can correct in today’s post.
What is a spirit animal? How to tell if yours is a dog!
By Holli, February 2nd, 2019.
Many cultures believe there are spirit animals that guide and protect us during this physical journey we are on as humans. It is also said that we embody their characteristics and vice versa. The Shamen call it a power animal.
When a dog chooses to act as your spirit guide you will always have trust, courage, loyalty, protection, familiarity, a best friend and unconditional love.Just don’t abuse them or treat them badly…they may bite.
Here are the signs pointing to the dog as your spirit animal. Does it sound like you?
You feel like your dog saved you. Your dog came at a time where you were calling out for aid.
You give unconditional love
You may be a protector that will go above and beyond to take care of the people you care about
You like to help those in need and seem to sense what they need
You are easy to devote and also forgive
You are happy hanging back and letting others you care about take the spotlight
You are perceptive and can sense negative energy people
You have an infectious energy that people like to be around, and you bring it out in others
You may feel like you get burnt out because you put forth a lot of energy; therefore needing to be lazy for a while
Did a dog come into your life at just the right time? Do you always have dogs around?
Human spiritual connection with dogs is nothing new and not many people can argue with that because you can feel and see it! Through the years the dog has evolved to be so much closer with the human. They are therapy dogs, dogs in schools, service dogs, dogs are becoming more popular to have at work, there are police dogs, the list goes on.
They sleep in our beds, follow us around the house and come for car rides with us. The closer they get to us, the more human like they become.
In reply to my question about sending me a short bio, this is what Holli sent:
My name is Holli Burch, and I live in Wisconsin. I have had dogs all my life and love everything about them.
Currently I have 4 labs, a yellow, black, chocolate and most recently a silver!
I started a dog blog because of my passion for dogs and wanting to be my own boss! Along with my dogs I have 4 children, horses, goats and 2 cats!
My typical dream day would include taking my kids to school, blogging and walking my dogs bare feet on the beach!