Tag: Dan Gomez

If dogs could talk!

Sharing the ups and downs of life with your dog.

Yesterday I used the phrase, “A number of domestic circumstances are taking priority at the moment …” and I wasn’t overplaying that. I can’t say anymore at this stage other than to say that a very close family member has been diagnosed with a terminal illness (and it’s not Jeannie, my son or my daughter.)

Naturally, it has been dominating my thoughts and emotions these last 72 hours but my ability to comprehend what has happened and to weep from time to time would have been impossible without the love of my sweet, dear Jeannie and the emotional sensitivity of our dogs.

For example, yesterday morning when I swung myself out of bed a little after 5:15am, the room still dark, and then sat on the side of the bed wondering what the diagnosis would be from the consultant in London, Brandy came up to me and just buried his head in between my slightly opened legs. With his head held down he pressed himself into my crutch and I then bent my own chest and head down and buried my face in the warm fur of Brandy’s neck just behind his ears.

So on to a short film that has been shown before here on Learning from Dogs but is still worth seeing again.

Published on Mar 27, 2015

Thanks for watching my film. I really hope you share and comment as we love your feedback also feel free to email your thoughts as well. www.ShawnWellingVisuals.com for more info and my email.
The Director
-Shawn Welling
Full Synopsis:
A friend to share the ups and downs of life with him — and, soon, his family. “If I Could Talk” gives this dog the one chance he wants to share his thoughts.
Director: Shawn Welling AXI
Story: Mark Galvin / Shawn Welling
Screenplay: Shawn Welling
Max Welling / The White Lab
Shawn Welling / Shawn Welling
Michelle Simmons / Michelle Welling
Grace Calabrese / Grace Welling
Kalyssa Lauer / Kalyssa Welling
Phillip Glass
Shawn Welling
Art Giraldo
Scott Budge

Thinking of every one of you and what your dogs mean to you!

Don’t stop hugging your dog.

Two views on a recent science news item.

Last Wednesday, dear friend Dan Gomez sent me an email that was headed Going to be controversial. It simply contained a link to a recent ScienceAlert item: You need to stop hugging your dog, study finds. I have to admit that my response was a rather rude one! Here’s how that article opened:

With their sweet faces, soft fur, and huge dumb grins, dogs were basically born to be hugged. As a species, they evolved over thousands of years with one clear path – to garner our attention and affection, and profit from all the benefits awarded to ‘Man’s best friend’. But along the way, they’ve had to make some serious trade-offs.

A family dog will never be the leader of the pack. It will be closed in, told when and where to pee, and now, preliminary data from a new study suggests that in return for room and board, our dogs suffer through our hugs.

I know, I know, it’s tough to hear, but bear with us, because it’s not all terrible news. Maybe your dog is cool with hugs. Maybe it finds your hugs annoying, but affection is affection, so it’ll take what it can get. Or maybe it freaking hates hugs and you’re stressing the crap out of it. All dogs are different, you just need to know how to read them.

Anyway, I was delighted to see the Care2 blogsite put out a slightly different assessment. I have great pleasure in republishing that Care2 article in full.


No, We Don’t Really Need to Stop Hugging Our Dogs

3175758.largeBy: Laura Goldman, April 28, 2016

About Laura

On the feel-good scale of one to 10, tenderly wrapping your arms around your dog and giving your pooch a gentle squeeze rates a solid 10, am I right?

But for dogs, the feeling apparently isn’t mutual, at least according to research by dog-training expert Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.

Coren examined 250 images on Google and Flickr of people hugging dogs. In his blog “The Data Says ‘Don’t Hug the Dog!’” on Psychology Today, he noted that 81.6 percent of the dogs showed some symptoms of stress, anxiety or discomfort.

“I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” Coren wrote.

The reason dogs dislike hugs, Coren explained, is because when they are threatened or otherwise under stress, their natural instinct is to run away, so being wrapped in our arms prevents them from doing what comes naturally. This can raise their stress levels.

“Save your hugs for your two-footed family members and lovers,” Coren wrote. “It is clearly better from the dog’s point of view if you express your fondness for your pet with a pat, a kind word and maybe a treat.”

I think it’s important to note that Coren’s study was not peer reviewed (i.e., it has not been approved by other scientists as being legit), nor was it published in any scientific journal, but only on PsychologyToday.com. “This is a set of casual observations,” Coren told the Washington Post in regard to all the recent media attention to his findings.

With this in mind, I decided to conduct my own non-peer-reviewed study for Care2.com. (I’ve been writing professionally about dogs for years and have had them as pets for most of my life, so that makes me kinda-sorta an expert, in my humble opinion.)

For my research, instead of passively Googling photos, I actively hugged two very willing study participants: my dogs, Leroy and Ella.

Leroy (that’s him getting hugged in my profile picture) seemed to enjoy the hug; he wagged his tail and the corners of his mouth curled up in what could be interpreted as a smile. Although Ella, who is a nervous dog, tensed her body at first, she relaxed after a few seconds and calmly rested her chin on my shoulder.

My conclusion: Dogs don’t hate hugs. While I wouldn’t recommend walking up to a strange dog and giving him a big ol’ bear hug, I don’t think there’s any need to stop hugging our own dogs based on Coren’s casual observations.

Neither does Corey Cohen, a companion animal behavior therapist. He told the New York Times the dogs in the photos Coren studied may have appeared anxious because they didn’t like having their pictures taken, or perhaps they were being forced to pose.

“My dogs love being hugged,” Cohen said, probably speaking on behalf of many of us dog owners. “I can definitely tell. Their facial expression changes: ‘Oh, give me more!’”

How to Tell if Your Dog Enjoys Hugs

If you’re not quite sure whether your dog likes to be hugged, here are some of the signs that he’s not into it, according to Coren and Erica Lieberman, a New York City dog trainer and behavior consultant.

  • Your dog turns his head away as you hug him.
  • He closes or half-closes his eyes. “Alternatively, dogs will often show what is commonly called a ‘half-moon eye’ or ‘whale eye,’ which is where you can see the white portion of the eyes at the corner or the rim,” Coren wrote.
  • He lowers his ears.
  • He licks his lips.
  • He yawns.
  • Lieberman told the New York Times that people should look for what she called “cutoff signals” when hugging their dogs. If dogs “shake off” after the hug, just as they shake off water after a bath, it means they didn’t enjoy it.

If your dog shows none of these warning signals, I say go ahead – hug it out.

Photo credit: Stephen Depolo


 I shall be hoping that Dan Gomez gets to read today’s post!

In celebration of new dogs

An introduction to Lexi.

Yesterday, my good friend of over 40 years, Dan Gomez, left a reply to our introductory post for Brandy. Despite how long I have been blogging it’s rare for Dan to drop in. Indeed, yesterday may well have been his first comment in this place: “Beautiful animal, Paul and Jean! He’s going to have a wonderful country home too!”

Well it wasn’t that long ago that Dan’s previous dog, Bella, died tragically and about a month ago Dan sent me a couple of pictures and a short video of their new dog: Lexi.

So staying with the theme of new members of our respective families, here are a few glimpses of Lexi.

Lexi at Rancho Mirage.
Lexi at Rancho Mirage.



Lexi at two months old - 26th March, 2016.
Lexi at two months old – 26th March, 2016.

As Dan said in his covering email:

What a fine animal! Sweet, adventurous, obedient, beautiful and loves the wet!
Saved our life and Bella would be proud.
May all those across the world that welcome and treasure their dogs live happy, safe and peaceful lives.

Picture parade one hundred and twenty-eight.

More of those fabulous ice photographs.

(The first set were published a week ago.)







And the last one this week is a photograph of the full moon taken Christmas Day evening shortly after 9pm PST.

Note: The next full moon to be seen on December 25th will not be until 2034!

P1150851That’s the last Picture Parade for 2015. See you in the New Year!