Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Cuddle Factor

When you study or read about the history of dogs, how they came to be "man's best friend," and changed from the wolf to a domesticated laboror and now pet, you'll notice the changes in how they look. 

Dogs in the last 200+ years have undergone extreme changes in looks, function, and form to fit a huge number of jobs desired by humans. Irish wolfhounds truly hunt wolves, poodles are excellent water dogs for hunters (yes, those pom-poms on their hips keep them warm in chllly water), the stamina of Dalmations came from running beneath carriages and between horses for miles, Dachshunds are tough hounds bred to go below ground after badgers. 

Part of the attraction of dogs today is the Cuddle Factor. It's existed a long time and is one reason we put up with the messes of puppies and kittens: they are so cute. It is also a reason (perhaps not the entire reason) we adopt the dogs we do. 

Silverwalk has a lovely, adoptable Beagle named Ava. She is shy, hunkers to the floor when approached but runs and plays with the pack (in the yard or, as we saw yesterday, outside the yard!). Ava got out of the fence (I left the gate open - mea culpa!), but stayed with the Centenary/SEMO volunteer walkers, then, to my delight, she came running when I stooped down with open arms, smiling and asking her to come to me - she raced and walked well on a leash back home. Good girl! Always be positive when a dog comes back to you - even when you're scared out of your mind. 

Ava in Yard

Ava in the Yard

Ava had a couple come look at her. She looked like their beloved Beagle who passed but Ava is not a cuddly dog. This couple decided Ava was not for them; they knew themselves and who they needed well enough to keep looking for their right dog. I've tried to put Ava on my lap and she'll stay till I let her go; then she's gone, looking for a toy or finding her own spot on top of the couch to nap. I think she will always be shy. Her family, who I know is out there, will be people able to handle the fact Ava won't be cuddly - but she will be fun, especially with another dog. 

I recently adopted out a Border Collie, Denali. She is not a cuddler but her new family wanted a friend for their other senior dog, not necessarily for themselves. Win-win for all.

Denali at Home

Denali in her new home

Just now, my 6 month old Beagle puppy, Ethel M., crawled up into my lap to get some cuddling herself. She is getting a good start, though I wonder what her early start was like.

Ethel M. (part of the "I Love Lucy" gang) making herself at home

Some dogs become cuddlers; others never will, like Ava (please prove me wrong). Most people, myself included, enjoy a dog who will cuddle on the floor, a chair, or in bed with their owners. A friend is valiantly working with a former puppy mill dog who is very fearful, won't cuddle - but she is dedicated to him and his well-being from his perspective, not just from hers.

When you are looking for a dog to adopt, consider the Cuddle Factor. Do you want a dog who will cuddle, or are you fine with one at your feet and side throughout the day? You may want a dog to train for obedience, rally, or any number of sports who won't need or want to cuddle. An adoptable dog is waiting to fulfill the need in your heart/life. Those "shelter" dogs? They are as good if not better than any other dog; they lost a home through no fault of their own and know when they have a second chance. 


  1. So well said, to me it's always the pup that picks you. Max is definitely a Cuddle bug!!!

  2. Great point. So many people are disappointed when they bring a dog home for his looks just to find out something else important to them is missing.

    And not everyone is a cuddler. Honey is. My husband is. But I'm not.

    I'm glad they love me anyway.

  3. Poor Ava. It sounds like she is on the road to a great new life though. Hopefully she will be a great match for the next people.

  4. Great post! Your last paragraph put me in mind of somebody's blog entry (I couldn't remember whose of course; that would be too useful) talking about petting a dog when s/he wanted to, invading their space, etc. It's good to keep in mind just how much "velcro" you want with your dog! I think if Elka could crawl into our ribcages, she would sometimes.

  5. Excellent post, Sheba loves her cuddles at 41kg she is one heavy lap dog, she doesn't seem aware of her size and thinks she can sit on your knee.