Tag: Laura Goldman

Small miracles

It’s not just the rescuing of people that matters.

Last Thursday, the 26th January, the BBC News website published a short video under the heading of: Italian avalanche survivors tell how they stayed alive.

Colleen Barry and Eldar Emric of Associated Press reported in US News:

A couple among the nine survivors of an Italian avalanche that devastated a mountain hotel say they survived nearly 58 hours buried beneath feet of snow by sucking on glass- and mud-filled ice, comforting each other and those nearby, and praying.

Now there’s no way I am belittling that survival; far from it. But 58 hours is a tad under 3 days.

Now read the following that was published on the Care2 site.


Puppies Rescued 5 Days After Devastating Avalanche in Italy

3199461-largeBy: Laura Goldman    January 26, 2017

After an avalanche buried central Italy’s luxury Hotel Rigopiano and its guests Wednesday, Jan. 18, rescue workers spent days digging in the snow in a desperate attempt to locate any survivors.

About 120,000 tons of snow, 16 feet deep, slammed into the hotel at 60 miles per hour. It took a while for emergency operators to believe the avalanche had occurred. The first man who called to report it was told that everything was fine at the hotel.

When they finally realized a disaster had in fact happened, first responders had to ski to the hotel, which took 12 hours. It took another day until the roads could be cleared with snowplows so emergency vehicles could finally get through.

Despite these circumstances, 11 survivors, including three children, were somehow able to keep themselves alive for over 40 hours by using their cellphones as flashlights to find water. The children, trapped in a game room, ate packets of Nutella and drank bottled water.

By Monday, rescuers were only pulling bodies from the snow and rubble. Discouraged and depressed, they were ready to give up hope.

The rescuers were told there were three puppies at the hotel. They had no idea where they were until they heard a noise in a boiler room inside what remained of the building. It was the three fluffy, white Abruzzo sheepdog puppies, only six weeks old, who had miraculously managed to survive both the avalanche and being stranded for five days.

“They just started barking very softly,” said Sonia Marini, one of the rescuers. “In fact, it was hard to find them right away because they were hidden. Then we heard this very tiny bark and we saw them from a little hole the firefighters had opened in the wall. We expanded the hole and we pulled them out.”

The puppies, born Dec. 4, had survived in an air pocket by eating snow, Walter Milan, the spokesman for Italy’s elite Alpine rescue squad, told the Daily Beast. They are the offspring of Nuvola (Cloud) and Lupo (Wolf), who lived at the hotel and were popular with guests.

Like their lucky litter, Nuvola and Lupo also survived the avalanche, according to a Facebook post by Martina Rossi, who was a bartender at the hotel.

Lupo e Nuvola, i pastori abruzzesi nati e cresciuti all'Hotel Rigopiano, non so come, sono riusciti a raggiungere la mia contrada, una frazione di Farindola (Villa Cupoli) sani e salvi. Questo non può di certo colmare il vuoto e la distruzione che attraversa un paese in ginocchio ancora speranzoso, nell'attesa soltanto di notizie positive, me in prima persona. Ma questi due bellissimi cagnoloni, rivedendoli, di certo sono riusciti a farmi tornare a battere il cuore, almeno per qualche secondo, riportando la speranza.
Lupo e Nuvola, i pastori abruzzesi nati e cresciuti all’Hotel Rigopiano, non so come, sono riusciti a raggiungere la mia contrada, una frazione di Farindola (Villa Cupoli) sani e salvi.
Questo non può di certo colmare il vuoto e la distruzione che attraversa un paese in ginocchio ancora speranzoso, nell’attesa soltanto di notizie positive, me in prima persona.
Ma questi due bellissimi cagnoloni, rivedendoli, di certo sono riusciti a farmi tornare a battere il cuore, almeno per qualche secondo, riportando la speranza.

The three puppies raised the hopes and spirits of the rescuers. “If the puppies survived, humans could as well,” Milan told the Daily Beast. Firefighter Fabio Jerman agreed. “It’s an important sign of life, which gives us hope,” he said.

Sadly, no one else has been found alive. A week after the disaster, 24 bodies have been found and five people are still missing.

In addition to unusually heavy snowfall, the avalanche may have been caused by a series of earthquakes that struck the area the day before.

Last year, devastating quakes killed more than 300 people in Italy. Another fortunate four-legged survivor, a border collie pulled from the rubble two days after an earthquake struck in late October, is being trained to pay it forward as a rescue dog.

Photo credit: YouTube


Well done the team, as in Walter Milan the spokesman, and the rest of Italy’s elite Alpine rescue squad!

Stories like this put a real smile on my face!


You will adore this

We can never have too many heroes. Especially if they are dogs!

Just read this gorgeous story that appeared on the Care2 site on January 14th.


Shelter Dog Nobody Wanted Alerts New Owners to Gas Leak

3198309-largeBy: Laura Goldman   January 14, 2017

Loyalty, as only a dog can do it!

This is too wonderful.

Slowly getting back to normal although yesterday morning saw the water supply fail from the well. (Now restored!) Perhaps not surprising as overnight Thursday-through-Friday the outside temperature went down to 8.6 deg. F. or in ‘new money’ -13 deg. C.  (In fact I’m writing this at 10am yesterday waiting for the well engineer to arrive!)

On January 4th, the Care2 site published what has to be one of the most remarkable examples of the loyalty of a dog. This is about as perfect an example of what we humans can learn from our dogs as it gets!


Loyal Dog Protects Buddy Stuck on Tracks From Speeding Train

3197731-largeBy: Laura Goldman   January 4, 2017

About Laura

If you’ve ever had the slightest doubt about just how loyal dogs can be – not only to people but to other dogs – a pup who’s been named Panda really proved it on Christmas Day.

Panda and his pal, now named Lucy, apparently escaped from their home in western Ukraine and somehow ended up on railroad tracks in the town of Uzhhorod. Lucy had an injury and was unable to stand or move. Panda remained right by her side, warming her with his body in the freezing cold.

A train engineer contacted a group of animal rescue volunteers including Denis Malafeyev, telling them he’d seen the dogs on the tracks for two days. Malafeyev and the others took off to try to save them.

“I saw a train approaching and felt sick,” he wrote on Facebook. “The male dog heard the sound of the approaching train, came close to the female dog and laid down next to her. Both of them pushed their heads toward the ground and let the train pass.”

A viral video Malafeyev posted shows the dogs being run over by the speeding train. It’s chilling to think that this wasn’t the first time this happened to the dogs.

The video is disturbing and difficult to watch, but amazingly, both dogs survived with just minor injuries. It may also seem disturbing that, knowing a train would be approaching, Malafeyev didn’t put down his camera and save the dogs. He wrote in his Facebook post that he and the group had tried, unsuccessfully, to move them, but Panda would bark at them and refuse to let them get close to Lucy.

“Think about it. He was keeping her warm,” Malafeyev wrote. ” I don’t know what to call this: instinct, love, friendship, loyalty? One thing I know for sure is that not all people would do the same as this dog!”

The video has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, with many commenters agreeing with Malafeyev that humans have a lot to learn from this dog.

15697205_1203415936406516_7707205456893868670_nFour days later, Malafeyev posted new videos of Panda and Lucy on Facebook. The dogs were taken to an animal shelter and have been reunited their owners, UPI reports. (There are conflicting reports that the dogs were adopted and given the names Panda and Lucy by their new owners. Either way, the two dogs are in a forever home together.)

(Note: there was another video on that Care2 page that I can’t find on YouTube.)

Lucy had no fractures, but only severe bruising, The Sun reports.

“Lucy lives in a house in a warm room! It’s really warm in here!” Malafeyev wrote. “The animals are on the mend!”

Hopefully Panda will be rewarded with treats for his heroic actions, and the owners will make their home more escape proof.

Photo credit: YouTube


 I am going to close this post by including another YouTube video of this incredible act together with the text supporting this video.

Incredible Story of Devotion Dog! 2017

Published on Jan 4, 2017
Incredible Story of Devotion Dog! The dog two days guarded wounded friend on the rails!
On Sunday, December 25 near the village of Uzhgorod in the district of Tyyglash a touching story took place in Ukraine. Two dogs spent about two days on the tracks, one of them was injured, and the other kept the injured dog warmed and protected from the passing trains.
The story was posted on his page on facebook user Denis Malafeev. His friends noticed two dogs lying on the tracks, one of them was injured. Later, the man himself arrived on the scene.
Several attempts to remove the animal from the rails were in vain, because the dog strongly defended her friend from the people!
When the animals heard an approaching train, the healthy dog lay next to a wounded dog and together they were pressed to the ground between the rails. This moment Malafeev managed to capture on video.
The dog did it for two days in a row! Just think! He warmed it for two days, so that it did not freeze and put himself in danger every time! I do not know how to call it: the instinct, love, friendship, loyalty? It is instructive for us!
Together with his friends, they took dogs and took them to the shelter. The Post reports that they are now waiting for their owners.

P.S. Shortly after the publication in social networks there were dog owners. It was learned that the Pandas and Lucy – so call the animals – there are no serious injuries, only bruises and hematomas. I found out that shaggy live in the home side’s S. Tseglovka in Transcarpathia for several years and are committed to each other from puppyhood. Dogs run away from home when someone from the house forgot to close the door on the site. They searched all over the village. But when the owners heard the story of “Romeo and Juliet” on track – immediately rushed to pick up pets from the shelter. Now dogs are at home, and their life is not threatened.

For two days that one dog protected the other. It is beyond imagination to think how frightening a speeding train would have been for those two precious dogs. Not just once but numerous times before rescue came to them.

Such a privilege to be able to share this with you.

Dogs, Goodness and People.

This makes my heart sing!

We woke yesterday on the first day of the New Year to a classic Winter’s scene: Snow!

Ben and Ranger enjoying a winter's breakfast.
Ben and Ranger enjoying a winter’s breakfast.

Not long after we were washed and dressed I let the dogs out. Typically, while all of them were quick to return to the warmth of the house, Brandy went off on one of his ‘walkabouts’. It was probably the first time he had seen snow.

Twenty minutes later, I started walking down our driveway (just visible in the photograph above running alongside the far tree line) because I knew that Brandy had walked down to the (closed) front gate to check everything out.

I saw Brandy coming back up the driveway and called to him. He looked up, wagged his tail, and I then crouched down holding my arms apart. Brandy started a wonderful, bouncy run that continued until he came right up to me and he then buried his wonderful, furry head between my thighs.

We walked together back to the house and went inside. As we walked together I was aware of a feeling of joyous happiness, a magic that was flowing from the way that Brandy chose to relate to me.

It really did make my heart sing and as I write these words some three hours later I hope you can pick up the gift of goodness that dogs, and so many other animals, offer us humans.

Plus, it couldn’t make a better introduction to a story that was published on the Care2 site on December 31st.


Meet the Arizona Deputy Who Saved a Dog’s Life – Twice!

3197435-largeBy: Laura Goldman  December 31, 2016

 About Laura

On his way to a call Dec. 17, Deputy Brian Bowling came across a dog stumbling down the middle of an Arizona road.

The pit bull mix named Ginger had been shot in the head by a neighbor who said he felt threatened after the dog dug a hole under her backyard’s fence and wandered into his yard.

Ginger was alive, but not for long.

“She was bleeding profusely from her head and neck,” Bowling told ABC15. In addition to being a deputy with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Bowling also happens to be a trained paramedic and a veteran who served in Afghanistan. He knew he had to act quickly.

“I had a little flashback, because we had seen military working dogs over there who were blown up by IEDs and shot, and that’s what went through my head,” he told ABC15. “I thought I had to do anything to save its life.”

When he approached Ginger to move her out of traffic, Bowling wasn’t sure how the injured dog would react. “But instead of running away from me or trying to bite me, she ran right up to me and started wagging her tail,” he told FOX 10. She then tried to climb up into the driver’s seat of his patrol car.

Bowling applied combat gauze to her wound, helping to stop the bleeding, and rushed her to a local emergency animal hospital.

His quick actions saved Ginger’s life. She was also fortunate that the bullet bounced off her skull instead of penetrating it.

Ginger and her hero, Deputy Brian Bowling. Photo credit: YouTube

Foster Mom Couldn’t Afford the Surgery

But Ginger’s luck seemed to be running out. When her foster mom, Hailey Miller, was told Ginger still needed surgery that would cost thousands of dollars, she made the difficult decision to have the dog euthanized. “If I had [the money], I wouldn’t even hesitate,” she told ABC 15.

Just as Bowling had saved Ginger from dying in the middle of the road, he decided he would save her from being put down.

“It just didn’t seem right for a dog that survived so much to die because the owner didn’t have the money to pay for it,” he told ABC15. He paid for her surgery himself, putting it on his credit card.

Miller, who runs the Miller Mutt Motel & Sanctuary pet rescue, was overwhelmed by the deputy’s generosity.

“If this man has this kind of empathy and love for a dog, imagine what he has for people and the rest of the world,” she told ABC 15. “There is such a lesson that can be learned from him.”

Ginger is recovering, Miller wrote on Facebook. She’s now able to walk and eat, and is “so sweet as usual.”

To reimburse Bowling, Miller has launched a GoFundMe campaign that has raised over $6,000.

“It is my Christmas wish that with the help of all animal lovers around the world, I can pay this deputy back,” Miller wrote. “Any remaining funds will go toward law enforcement charities, animal rescues and future rescue dogs that are always coming through my rotating door. Of course the officer will be involved in choosing these charities!”

With so many heartbreaking reports about police officers shooting pet dogs, it’s heartening to know there are compassionate law enforcement officers like Bowling out there who truly do care about animals.

Photo credit: YouTube


Deputy Brian Bowling, I, and many, many others, salute you for the goodness you have in your heart.

Let 2017 be the year that promotes the goodness in people.

More rescue tales.

Or should that be rescue tails!

I have another guest post for you tomorrow that, as with Maria’s story yesterday, will be appreciated greatly by you.

But for today I’m going to republish an item that appeared on the Care2 site that isn’t a million miles away from Maria’s theme about her Ellie finding lost persons.


3 Rescued Dogs Who Saved Their Family Members’ Lives This Year

3187860.largeBy: Laura Goldman

August 25, 2016

Celebrated on August 26 every year, National Dog Day encourages pet adoptions and honors dogs who save lives, keep us safe and bring us comfort. Created in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, the holiday falls on the date her family adopted their first rescue dog. Among the ways you can celebrate are by adopting a dog of your own or donating $5 to your local animal shelter.

In honor of National Dog Day, meet three rescued dogs who really “pawed” it forward this year by saving the lives of their forever family members.

Leon Alerts Family to Home Intruders

As Theresa Lero was feeding her horses outside her Gulfport, Miss., home early one April morning, two armed and masked men entered her house.

When she went inside, her rescue dog, Leon, was growling at the door to the sunroom. Peeking through a window, Lero saw a man with a gun.

She ran to wake up her husband. Grabbing a gun, she ran back to the sunroom with her dog by her side. “Get ‘em, Leon,” she told him.

The men began shooting. They missed Lero, but shot Leon in the head. “You shot my dog. I’ll kill you myself,” Lero yelled at them. A neighbor heard her and called 911.

The intruders ran off and were later caught by police. In the meantime, the Leros rushed Leon to the veterinarian. Amazingly, the bullet skimmed his skull and exited out his ear. He was able to walk in and out of the animal hospital.

For saving his family, Leon was given a framed certificate of bravery from the county sheriff.

When the Leros adopted their dog from a shelter two years ago, they thought he was a redbone coonhound, so they named him after the singer Leon Redbone. As it turns out, Leon may actually be a red nose pit bull. One thing is certain: Leon is definitely a hero.

Haus Saves Girl from Rattlesnake

In May, 7-year-old Molly Deluca was playing in her Tampa backyard with Haus, the German Shepherd her family adopted in March from a rescue organization, when her grandmother noticed Haus jump in front of the girl and then rear up.

He was protecting her from a venomous Eastern diamondback rattlesnake that had slithered in from a habitat at a nearby state park. Haus “had every opportunity to run but he didn’t,” Molly’s mother, Donya Deluca, told the Associated Press.

Molly was unharmed, but Haus was bitten three times in the leg. He was successfully treated at an animal hospital for kidney damage, and was given a blood transfusion and anti-venom. A week later, Haus was well enough to return home. His expensive veterinary bills were covered by generous donations from an online fundraising campaign. Haus received a Heroic Dog Award from PETA.

“He just exceeded our expectations all the way around,” Molly’s dad, Adam DeLuca, told the Associated Press. “He’s the type of dog that when you want to go buy a dog, you pay thousands of dollars and that’s the dog you get. But we adopted him and got him for free.”

Earl Wakes Up New Owner as House Burns

Barely a week after he was adopted from Petco’s Stray Animal Adoption Program in July, a pug named Earl rescued his new dog mom by alerting her to a house fire in their Erlanger, Ky., home.

“He just fell asleep with me on the couch along with (another dog named) Tucker, and the next thing I know, he’s waking me up, licking my face. It’s the first time he’s done that,” Kristina Brate told WLWT.

The fire, believed to have been caused by faulty wiring, started in the basement and quickly spread through the rest of the house.

Brate lost almost everything in the fire, but she’s alive thanks to Earl. Petco awarded the hero dog with a $500 shopping spree to help replace the lost pet items and also stock up on some well-deserved treats.

“I believe that he came to me for a reason,” Brate told WLWT. “I think that, for some reason, the first family had passed him up and that there’s a reason why I got him.”

Photo credit: YouTube


Physically, psychologically and emotionally the number of ways that dogs save us is almost limitless!

Life-saving dogs.

The great relationship that can exist between dogs and cheetahs.

Before you read on let me raise my hand in connection with this blog. Or to be clearer, next Monday Jean and I have the very great pleasure in welcoming my daughter, Maija (she of Sonic Journeys from SOUND UK), her husband, Marius, and my grandson Morten. They are staying with us until the 24th July.

Inevitably, and for all the right reasons, I will not be putting in anything like the normal time I usually spend on Learning from Dogs. It did cross my mind to stop blogging for those seven days but that seemed like a step too far.

However, what is certain is that the period from now right through to the last week in July is going to see me lowering the priority of this blog and being more random in nature in terms of if or how I respond to your comments and replies.  You will also read a succession of repeats of posts from previous years. I’m hoping that because so many of you will not have been reading this place during my early years that the number of times you see something that you have previously read is kept to a minimum.

So why this note to you all today? Because the rest of this week is going to be pretty busy as we get the house all tidied up and fully prepared for our visitors.

Having got that off my chest do read the following that appeared recently over on Care2.com.


How Dogs Are Saving Cheetahs From Extinction

3183088.largeBy: Laura Goldman July 10, 2016

About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Cheetahs, the fastest land animals on Earth, have been disappearing almost as fast as they can run.

But in the African country of Namibia, the cheetah population has grown from 2,500 to 4,000 since 1994. And dogs are helping to keep those numbers rising.

Instead of trapping or shooting cheetahs that wander onto their property and kill livestock, some farmers are relying on Anatolian Shepherds and their fierce barking to scare away the predators.

“You may see in history that this dog can be responsible for saving the cheetah from extinction,” Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, told CBS News. “That is one heck of a story right there.”

The dogs are provided to farmers and ranchers by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), the world’s leading organization dedicated to saving the lives of cheetahs in the wild.

 The majority of cheetahs in the wild – over 90 percent of them, according to the CCF — live outside protected areas, surrounded by farming communities. And many of those farmers, especially poor ones, are more concerned about protecting their livelihood than an endangered species. About 10,000 cheetahs were killed during the 1980s, before CCF launched the Livestock Guarding Dog program in 1994.

Since then, the program has placed more than 500 dogs, helping to reduce the loss of livestock from 80 to almost 100 percent. The program is extremely popular — there’s a two-year wait to get in. It not only provides free Anatolian Shepherd puppies, but also training advice and free veterinary care.

“CCF research shows that the people’s attitudes towards predators are changing as a result of this and other CCF programs,” the organization said on its website.

Dogs and Cheetahs Aren’t Enemies in U.S. Zoos

As a way to promote “the life-saving role dogs play for cheetahs in the wild,” according to CBS News, some zoos in the United States are raising puppies with cheetah cubs.

“The number one question up here, this $40 million exhibit: ‘Are the dogs coming out?’” Suzi Rapp, director of the Columbus Zoo’s animal programs, told CBS News. “And I say the Columbus Zoo built the world’s most expensive Labrador retriever exhibit in the world… the biggest dog run.”

Dogs and cheetahs can also be found together at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was there, as you probably remember, where Harambe the gorilla was shot to death when a boy fell into his exhibit. His killing sparked international outrage and concern over keeping wild animals captive in zoos.

What are domesticated animals doing in these zoos? Like the Anatolian Shepherds in Africa, the zoos say, the dogs are helping to prevent cheetahs from becoming extinct. But instead of scaring cheetahs away from livestock, the zoo dogs are best buddies with the cheetahs. Their friendship, which begins when they’re about 3 months old, helps put the skittish cheetahs at ease so they can more easily be bred.

The San Diego Zoo, which has been raising dogs with cheetahs for over 30 years, gets many of its puppies from animal shelters. So in a way, the rescued dogs are paying it forward by helping save the lives of another species.


That Care2 article by Laura Goldman included a short video from CBS News. However, despite me having a link to that video I couldn’t get it to play.

No problem because YouTube came up with a very good alternative.

Published on Apr 29, 2013

CCF Operations Manager Brian Badger explains how our Livestock Guarding Dog program works as part of the whole of CCF’s operations to help save the cheetah in the wild.

In fact, there was more than one interesting video and I couldn’t make up my mind which was best.

So you got two!

Published on Sep 25, 2013

In Gobabis, Namibia, these Kangal dogs guard the goats against predators, including the worlds largest population of wild cheetahs. This stops the farmers from targeting the cheetahs. Since the big dogs were introduced to Namibia, the cheetah population has reached a 30-year high ! Hurray!

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!