Some scientific half-wit, we hear, has come to the conclusion that hugging dogs makes them feel threatened. I shall simply pause now to allow those of you who did not hear this latest research when it was reported on the news and in the press last week to consider this possibility, and then have a good laugh. Unsurprisingly, dog owners have responded with incredulity. On what kind of dogs was this research carried out, they cry? Cayotes, dingos, wolves, African wild dogs? Only a silly soul would try to hug a dog they didn’t know! But that was not how the results of the study were presented.
We Dickens Dogs, and indeed every dog we know, absolutely loves to be loved, and being loved means being held; having your special person wrap you in their arms and bring themselves as close as close can be, so we can smell and feel them properly. We love cuddling each other – little Nico climbing aboard Uncle NuNu every morning after our run and ensuing breakfast for a reassuring snuggle; Barnaby thrusting his head defiantly beneath Kemo Sabe’s arm, sometimes spilling her tea, insisting – yes, insisting – he gets a hug. To substitute for this physical closeness we gum our fake-fur dollies, seeking a second-hand solace in their soft familiarity. But it’s nowhere near the real thing.
In our loved ones arms we feel safe and secure, reminded of the unique bond which brings two utterly different kinds of beings together. To our loved ones I would say, on behalf of all my brothers: we know how busy your lives are; we see events speed past, filling you with surprise and sometimes dread, happiness and horror; we cannot offer words of love or encouragement, reassurance or reflection; to bark would be to bully. All we can do is lean against your side and hope your embrace will pull us into your world, for merely moments if that is all you can spare. We are not in the way. We love you, and we need you; we are waiting; we are here.