Category: Water

Mindfulness and health

What is it about mindfulness that delivers?

I have posted before about the role of mindfulness and do so again.

Simply because this article published by Mother Nature Network is both comprehensive and detailed.

In a world which seems crazier by the day it is good to remind ourselves how beneficial is mindfulness.

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Why is mindfulness beneficial for your health?

Practicing focus and acceptance can help with stress and more.

Rachel Pomerance Berl
March 16, 2020

By paying attention and listening to your body and feelings, you can get a sense of peace and calm. (Photo: andblank/Shutterstock)

Focus on your breath. Listen to your body. Notice your emotions, but don’t judge them.

These are a few of the cues routinely used to induce mindfulness, a meditative state of self-awareness and detached acceptance that promises practitioners a sense of peace and presence of mind.
By putting equanimity within arm’s reach, if even for a moment, mindfulness programs are quickly gaining steam throughout the country. And it’s perhaps no surprise. At a time when America’s huddled masses seem more wound up, stressed out and distracted than ever before, the call to calm down is a compelling one.

At issue is not only relief from stress but also the innumerable ailments related to it. And like yoga, mindfulness programs are proving to be powerful antidotes. From depression and anxiety to weight control and pain management, there’s a mindfulness treatment out there for what ails you. Fortune 100 companies are using mindfulness as part of leadership training, and the military is incorporating such techniques to reduce stress before deployment and to help ease post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s cultivating a general skill that can be applicable in lots of different circumstances,” says Vermont-based psychotherapist Arnie Kozak, who’s been using mindfulness in his clinical practice for nearly 20 years. “I think the place where it pays the biggest benefit is helping people to reduce reactivity,” he says. As Kozak explains, mindfulness won’t change someone’s condition, but it can change someone’s response to it and, in doing so, alleviate suffering.

How and why mindfulness works

Calming environments can help you accept and observe the chaos without judging it, part of the mindfulness approach. (Photo: Tejvan Pettinger [CC by 2.0]/Flickr)
In dealing with a difficulty — say, a crisis at work or a chronic disease — people often get mired in the narrative they create about the situation, perhaps chastising themselves about their feelings or behavior, envisioning catastrophic consequences or rehashing the incident ad nauseam. Mindfulness, however, teaches a healthy skepticism about the stories we tell ourselves, say Kozak, who likes to repeat a mantra: “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Fundamental to the practice is acceptance, rather than avoidance of a stressful situation. In a sense, it’s the opposite of the “Calgon, take-me-away” approach of yesteryear (commercials for the bath products featured a harried Mom pleading with Calgon to “take me away” from the cacophony of domestic life). Mindfulness, alternatively, would ask you to accept and observe the chaos, without liking or disliking what’s happening around you.

If that sounds challenging, it is — but the rewards can be profound. And they don’t require some sort of monastic discipline.

After an eight-week course of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness, participants changed their brain structure, according to a study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. Brain scans of the subjects, who meditated an average of 27 minutes a day, found a thickening of regions associated with learning, memory, self-awareness and compassion and a thinning of the region connected to stress and anxiety.

According to Psychologist Lindsay Sauers, there are two parts of the stress-response cycle, and though everyone knows the first part — the rush that comes when you system is flushed with adrenaline and cortisol — the second part doesn’t get as much notice, but it’s important. There must be an emotional and physical release in response or the cycle is “incomplete.”

“We often wait until the ‘breaking point,’ when addressing the impact of stress becomes an absolute necessity,” she told Dave Bellomo of NorthCentralPA.com. “The challenge is that in waiting, we often feel so guilty about the consequences of the breaking point that once the immediate distress has leveled off, we go right back to pushing aside stress until it grows to that ‘breaking point’ again. It becomes a ‘rinse and repeat’ situation. While the rinse and repeat might be tolerable if we know it’s going to happen … this all-or-nothing process has a cumulative, detrimental impact on the body.”

Bringing mindfulness mainstream

University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness is where MBSR — and much of the mindfulness movement in this country — got its start. That’s thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn, an MIT-trained biologist who founded the center in 1979 and developed the MBSR program, helping to bring meditation mainstream.

Today, there are some 520 MBSR programs across the country and about 740 worldwide, according to the center’s executive director, Saki Santorelli. The center has seen more than 20,000 people complete its eight-week course, with many of them referred by conventional medical centers.

Mindfulness programs have also become a fixture of many integrative health care centers at universities across the country such as the dozens of members that comprise the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.

Santorelli attributes the interest in mindfulness primarily to research and access. “From the very beginning, research has been a critical part of this process,” he says, adding that “society, in many ways, trusts science.” The growing body of literature on mindfulness fuels further interest.

Also, mindfulness work has a low bar to entry, Santorelli says. It doesn’t require renouncing one’s faith. It doesn’t necessarily cost anything. And it enables people to take an active role in their own healing.

He argues that the optimal approach for health care incorporates both the Western discipline, in which practitioners do something “to” or “for” a patient, with the self-care inherent in mindfulness.

While the former is critical if a patient requires surgery, the latter can bring about a sustained approach to well-being, Santorelli says. How so? He explains that through mindfulness, observation gives way to self-awareness — the point at which it becomes possible to change habits and behaviors.

That’s especially important, he adds, since so many of today’s maladies are related to lifestyle — from obesity to smoking.

Practical applications

Eating slowly and thinking about every bite may help you make healthier eating choices. (Photo: KPG Ivary/Shutterstock)

As director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Frederick Hecht is using mindfulness techniques to disrupt the automatic eating behavior that so often derails efforts to lose and maintain weight.

“The idea is to chew our food a little more carefully, to really savor both the texture and the taste of the food, to be aware of all the sensations you’re feeling as you eat,” with the goal of getting greater satisfaction from less food, he says. By paying close attention to how they feel before and after eating, participants may be more likely to make healthier choices.

“There’s promising data for things like mindful eating, but it’s preliminary data,” says Hecht, who is training in internal medicine and clinical epidemiology. “More research and better research is really key, and its particularly key for health professionals when we’re called on to really recommend this, and we need a stronger evidence base.”

At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, pulmonologist Roberto Benzo is using mindfulness techniques to help patients manage conditions such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). “Health is far beyond fixing an organ, having a transplant, getting a coronary fixed — that is just a piece of the story,” Benzo says, referencing his yet-to-be-published research showing that quality of life and self-care hinge on one’s emotional state.

The many benefits of mindfulness training.

Gratitude and an appreciation of nature can help a stressed person tune into the moment. (Photo: vvvita/Shutterstock)

With that in mind, Benzos work as founding director of Mayo’s Mindful Breathing Lab is to help patients see past their disease and appreciate life.

“To embrace life, we always embrace what we like … It’s difficult to embrace that sometimes we’re sad, sometimes things are not going in the direction we want,” he says. “Mindfulness is the ability to be here and now even when one has a condition like a lung disease or a heart disease or something like that.”

Using techniques like breathing, moving and gratitude, Benzo has found that patients tune in to the moment and feel better. “They start to look at the good that is in front of them,” he says.

But getting to that stage requires switching gears.

To that end, Los Angeles-based psychologist Elisha Goldstein and author of “The Now Effect” reminds his patients to simply “STOP.” The acronym stands for: Stop, take a few breaths, observe your experience and proceed. As Goldstein puts it, the exercise “pops them out of autopilot” and into a position to ask “what really matters in life” at that moment. From that place of calm, we are better poised to make the best choice and the most of the moment.

As those moments build up, they may amount to a lifetime of living in the midst of them.

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I can do no better than to repeat the advice of Elisha Goldstein in that penultimate  paragraph.

Stop, Take a few breaths, Observe your experience, Proceed.

We most certainly need this help. All of us!

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.

A most beautiful animal

From a discussion on Ugly Hedgehog

As regular readers know, I subscribe to Ugly Hedgehog, a photography forum.

Once again, I want to share with you all a most stunning photograph.

It is this:

So what animal is it?

Back to that item on Ugly Hedgehog:

Whistletown Wilds, the author of the post, said:

Good boy! Call it what you will; Coydog, Eastern Coyote, or Coymolf. Up close and personal, Taken in East Lyme Ct.

Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Javier Monzón analyzed the DNA of eastern coyotes and found the genes contain all three canids — dog, wolf, and coyote.

According to Monzón’s research, about 64% of the eastern coyote’s genome is coyote (Canis latrans), 13% gray wolf (Canis lupus), 13% Eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), and 10% dog (Canis familiaris).

Later on he added:

All my bird and nature photos are taken in South Eastern Ct. most with a Canon 7D Mark II or 5D Mark IV and Canon 100 to 400II THANK YOU. About 20 yards.

Then followed in response to my request for permission to republish:

Feel free, no problem!

Whatever happens to me in the next year, I truly hope I can continue to share such incredibly photographs with you.

Nature in all her glory!

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and I will be taking a short break, probably back on December 27th.

You all have a wonderful, peaceful holiday.

Picture Parade Three Hundred and Eighteen

Enjoy

This was seen on the photographic forum Ugly Hedgehog and I just loved it.

It is fully republished with permission.

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I took our little dog for a woods walk after the snow.

We went for a walk in the woods behind our house this afternoon. We got about 3 inches of snow that stuck to the trees. Norah loves to run in the new snow!

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By the stream. She doesn’t like to get her dainty paws wet.

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I think these are wonderful.

The dog’s name is Norah as you may have gathered and she is a tailless dog. As was said on the forum: ” Her name is Norah. She’s the best (only) tailless dog we’ve every had! Our best guess is that she may be part Jack Russell but we don’t know. She’s a rescue dog.”

For next Sunday I’m going to repeat a few of these but using my Luminar photo-editing software. I have a feeling that a few of these wonderful photographs can produce some great edits.

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.

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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!

Murmuration!

Alex and Lisa have put together a remarkable video

Yesterday, in came an email from my son, Alex, about an amazing starling murmuration at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Lisa took the video and together they uploaded it to YouTube.

Enjoy!

Having watched the amazing video I then did a little bit of research. I came quickly across the science of murmuration and have included it below.

Murmuration refers to the phenomenon that results when hundreds, sometimes thousands, of starlings fly in swooping, intricately coordinated patterns through the sky.

Maybe you’ve seen a murmuration video before. But this one is especially beautiful. It was shot earlier this month in Wales, at Cosmeston Lakes in the Vale of Glamorgan, and posted on Facebook by the BBC Cymru Wales. (It’s not included, Ed.)

It’s all about science. Just how do the starlings manage to fly in such an amazingly coordinated way?

A few years ago, George F. Young and his colleagues investigated starlings’ “remarkable ability to maintain cohesion as a group in highly uncertain environments and with limited, noisy information” — a nice description of what goes on in a murmuration.

Going in, Young et al. already knew that starlings pay attention to a fixed number of their neighbors in the flock, regardless of flock density — seven, to be exact. Their new contribution was to figure out that “when uncertainty in sensing is present, interacting with six or seven neighbors optimizes the balance between group cohesiveness and individual effort.”

Young et al. analyzed still shots from videos of starlings in flight (flock size ranging from 440 to 2,600), then used a highly mathematical approach and systems theory to reach their conclusion. Focusing on the birds’ ability to manage uncertainty while also maintaining consensus, they discovered that birds accomplish this (with the least effort) when each bird attends to seven neighbors.

Wonderful!

Our trip to Utah, part five

And yet more of the photographs.

Yet another one of this fascinating rock face.

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The picture below is primarily of the different rock type that is laid crossways on the top of the ridge. It was the closest that we could get without a major climb.

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I think this is Zion National Park. The pillars above and the stream below.

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A much-photographed site!

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The final set maybe the day after tomorrow.

Our trip to Utah, part three

We are very close to the point of this trip.

Friday, September 27th.

As soon as we were on our way, first thing was to find a bed for the night in the area of the Capitol Reef NP. This was a popular time of the year and so many places were full. Our ‘fall-back’ position was to sleep in the truck but I really hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

Eventually we found a room for just tonight in The Flute Shop and Motel in Torrey, just 10 miles from the National Park. Run by Vance and Elaine Morrill it was more than just a motel, it was a scene of much fascination. For Vance made flutes the American Indian way.

But more of that later.

Oh, and there’s a dog story as well. Again, I’m writing that up as a separate post.

On to the Capitol Reef Park.

Or rather a pause before we descended off the heights that surrounded this part of Utah down to the park.

The pause was to take a photograph of an intense rain storm that had a spot quite close where the remnants of a rainbow could just be made out. It’s hardly visible in the above picture.

It was simply stunning.

Beyond words.

I promised you a little more about Vance Morrill and his flutes. But apart from the photograph I will delay that for a while (until the draft of the post has been approved by Vance).

Here is Jean looking at them.

Finally, Vance promised to draw some routes in the morning to some of the lesser known spots in Capitol Reef.

Waterfalls!

Another one to share with you while we are away!

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Taken from here.

Chasing Waterfalls

Posted on

Written by I recently returned from a research sail through the Denmark Straits and I couldn’t be more in awe of mother nature.

We sailed aboard the gaft-rigged ketch Tecla out of Isafjordur, Iceland, bound for Greenland. We were thirteen women and men on a hundred-foot steel-hulled sailing vessel.

As we cleared the steep-sided fjord and sailed out into the bay past towering headlands, we saw a humpback whale breach. It rose straight out of the water, extended enormous knobby flippers, rotated and fell on its side with a large splash.

We sailed on, and another wheeled before us.

Further out, white-beaked dolphins streaked, exhaled, and splashed in the bow waves at the front of our boat.

Gray and white fulmars with outstretched wings carved the sky and nearly scratched the sea. And then there were icebergs.

The natural beauty of Mother Earth never ceases to take my breath away, no matter how many times I see it.

We traversed the threshold between the Atlantic and the Arctic Oceans. The south-bound East Greenland current squeezed between the craggy coasts of Iceland and Greenland to become a “superhighway” for turbulent water. Here, the denser Arctic water mass crashes into the bulwark front of warmer Atlantic Water. Arctic water plunges downwards into the Denmark Strait Cataract. This is the world’s largest waterfall. Yet, skimming the surface of immense water all we see are waves that crest white tumble and stream like the tossed manes of charging horses.

Unfortunately, we also saw the threats to nature.

First, a quick science lesson: When seawater freezes at the ocean surface, the ice is actually made of freshwater; the salt gets rejected back into the surrounding water. That surrounding water then becomes denser and sinks. This happens on a massive scale, which results in ocean currents around the world. Think of it like an organic engine that circulates the oceans’ water.

Now, because global warming exposes more of the surface every summer than it used to (about twice as much, in fact) that means more surface ice each winter. That means that our ocean circulation engine is twice as big, which radically alters the seascape, threatens not only the ocean ecosystem – from tiny algae to those humpback whales – but life worldwide.

We caused global warming. Now we must come together to decrease carbon emissions and increase carbon capture. For the Denmark Strait, for the humpback whales, and for our own places of habitation.

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I will do no better than to repeat that last paragraph.

We caused global warming. Now we must come together to decrease carbon emissions and increase carbon capture. For the Denmark Strait, for the humpback whales, and for our own places of habitation.

Here! Here!

Now this is what I call survival!

A Vancouver, Washington dog survives a month in the wilderness.

Niko is a Vancouver family’s dog. He is also adventure partner to 16-year-old Caden Alt.

On July 26th, Niko went camping with Caden’s father, David Alt, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Located in South-West Washington it encompasses well over a million acres.

But I’ll let the KGW-TV blogsite tell you the full story.

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Dog Survives 31 Days In Woods After Being Hit By Car

By LINDSAY NADRICH, KGW-TV

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Niko, a Vancouver family’s dog, survived 31 days in the wilderness after getting hit by a car.

Niko is 16-year-old Caden Alt’s adventure partner.

“He’s always fun to have around,” Caden told KGW-TV. “He’s right there at your side walking around and yeah, he’s just awesome.”

On July 26, Niko went camping with Caden’s father, David Alt, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Later that night, Niko wandered over to the road and got hit by a car. David ran from the campsite just in time to see Niko sprint off into the woods.

“A lady jumped out of the car immediately and said, ‘I don’t know how he could’ve survived that,'” he said.

He searched all night, but could not find Niko. He said it was devastating.

For the next 31 days, he and Caden spent as much time as they could going back to look.

“Every weekend we went up there, we searched, that was pretty hard, coming back every day not finding anything,” Caden recalled.

Then last weekend, they got a call from two men who had seen a post about Niko on Facebook and spotted him about 100 yards from where he disappeared.

“That was, just like, my heart dropped for a second, like, is this happening?” Caden asked.

The Good Samaritans canceled their own trip and drove Niko straight to Vancouver.

“So, yeah, my son and I were just crying, it was, it was unbelievable, yeah, and then of course when we’re in the driveway and they bring him up, Caden and I are crying, those two grown men are crying, four guys crying, it was great,” David said.

Niko lost about 15 pounds but is otherwise doing well.

“Skin and bones and one eye shut, he had lost 30% of his body weight, but he immediately was eating and drinking,” David said.

Niko seemed pretty happy to be back by Caden’s side.

“It’s been amazing,” Caden said. “I’m so glad to have him back. He’s not like perfect, energetic back up to himself, but he’s getting there, better every day. He’s just as cute as ever, the house is filled again.”

So what did Niko do for 31 days alone in the woods?

“As far as trying to recap, only Niko knows the story right, too bad he couldn’t tell it,” David said.

During the month Niko was missing, David and Caden said they got a lot of support from people on social media, as well as a lot of tips that helped with the search. They said they are so thankful for everyone who kept them going.

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Information from: KGW-TV, http://www.kgw.com/

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And it was very easy to close with a photograph of Niko. (And apologies, I didn’t make a note of the journal that published the photo.)

He is a gorgeous dog!