The Puppiness Project – Cuddle

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
Man and Dog on bed.


Dogs instinctively know about the therapeutic power of touch.

As puppies, they sleep on top of each other, clamber over each other, and eat cheek to jowl.

As adults, many will pick the spot closest to you on the bed or couch without any regard for personal space. And if that means leaving a toenail print in a sensitive body organ, so be it!

Research over many years has demonstrated both psychological and physiological benefits to infants who are regularly touched. That’s why premature babies are no longer left alone in incubators but are regularly massaged and caressed even with the constraints caused by their immature bodies.

Now I’m not as smart as a scientific researcher. I’m not even as smart as a puppy. And I don’t feel very comfortable being touched.

Golden Retriever in Man's Lap

I think I need to add "lap dog" to my job description.

The recent trend in the  U.S. where every stranger greets you with a hug gives me hives. The worst gift in the world for me would be a gift certificate for a massage. I don’t even like having my hair cut.

But I’m going to try to loosen up a bit.

So if you want to give me a new Year’s hug, I won’t fiddle with the coats in the closet and pretend I don’t see you. I may even try to instigate a few hugs myself. After all, those puppies (oh, and a few research scientists) can’t all be wrong.

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  1. It’s true, I suppose. Scientists are always talking about the power of touch. They even make artificial hugging machines for those who are isolated, the benefits we get from a hug are that important. I am not a big fan of touching strangers myself. And I prefer to sleep on my own side of the bed. While I love cuddling with my dog, there is a time and a place for it. Maybe I need to work on this as well.

  2. One of my clients has an excellent breeder of Chocolate Labradors. She makes sure al the puppies are touched regularly after they are born and even has her grandchildren sit down and play with them and hold them to get them used to children. I think touch can go such a long way with both people and animals. (BTW – I don’t mind hugs, but a body massage creeps me out too!)