All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Cuddling with Pets

Dear Marie, 
Help!  Help! 
My name is Eric.  I really enjoy your columns.  You advocate letting your dog on your lap to cuddle with you, but I have people who tell me that this is not right.  I will explain:

I used to have a dog, named Boomer.  She's no longer with me, but the one thing that I loved to do with her, was cuddle with her.  I would let her come up on my lap, and I would hug her, and she would give me a kiss.  After that, she wagged her tail to tell me, "I love you."  I miss that!

I have been getting wrong information, so, would you please explain to your readers, the mindset of a dog while they cuddle with their owner?  Is it wrong to cuddle? 

I've lost a few friends because of this, Marie.  I don't know how to get them to understand, that this is therapeutic.  I want a guide dog someday, and the next "pet" dog I want, should be a Labrador, or Golden retriever (good, cuddling dogs).  Please!  I'm needing answers, before I blow my top!

Eric C.

Dear Eric,
Please don’t blow your top!  I don’t know why your friends are giving you a hard time for cuddling with your dogs.  Obviously, they don’t know what they are missing out on.  You are absolutely correct in your statement that snuggling with a pet is therapeutic.  In fact, many convalescent hospitals, Alzheimer’s facilities, and children’s hospitals welcome visits from animals specifically because cuddle time leads to better health, both physical and emotional, on the part of the patients.  (And the pets really love it too!)

Occasionally, dogs with dominance related behavioral problems need to have limits set for what they can and cannot do.  For example, you would not want to let dogs prone to aggression and/or dominance sleep on your bed or participate in other activities that send the message of being equal, or even greater than you in the home chain of command.  But clearly, this is not the situation that you are discussing.

Quite simply, dogs crave affection from their people.  They love to sit in laps – even if they ten times too big.  All of the German Shepherds I have had over the years have tried their best to be lap dogs, to the point of scrunching up as much as possible to fit.  Sometimes watching TV was a little difficult, but that was OK.

Domesticated dogs are not as sophisticated as their wolf cousins and tend to be like little children for the duration of their lives.  Getting attention from you is like getting hugs from a loving parent, and there is nothing wrong with that. 

It sounds to me like you need to meet some new friends who share your love of animals.  I understand that you are looking for a guide dog and may have some disabilities that limit what you think you can do.  Nevertheless, I would suggest getting down to your local animal shelter and volunteering a few hours a week.  You will find many like-minded people there who donate their time (and love) to the homeless pets living at these facilities.  I suspect that you’ll make lots of good friends in this setting and that they will never tell you to stop snuggling with your pets.  You may also find that special Labrador or Golden Retriever who needs a home like yours.  It would be a perfect situation all the way around.

Dogs are companion animals.  This means they are our friends.  Sometimes, many folks forget this basic fact, leaving dogs in back yards or turning them into security devices.  This is no life for a sentient being that craves a social existence.  All one needs to do is look into the eyes of any dog to see the longing for contact and affection.  I believe that anyone who takes a moment to do this will never deny their pets the love and attention that every dog wants and needs. 

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