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.
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.
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.