Calming Canine Magic
I remember one night when I was very young (and still afraid of the dark), our parents had extended family over for dinner. After dessert, as the grown-ups were breaking out the Pinochle deck, my sister and I were sent off to bed.
I didn’t want to close my eyes for fear of missing out on the excited conversations that I could still hear coming from the kitchen so I kept my Hollie Hobbie bedside lamp on. As I lay there, the light suddenly went out.
I was left in pitch darkness with no idea how the light went off. I was terrified. I curled up under piles of blankets with my heart racing. I was so hot but I dared not uncover myself. I started to cry. And that’s when I heard the familiar snorting making its way towards my bed.
Family dinners were a fairly regular occurrence in our little Staten Island home but this time was a little more special. My Nana joined us from eastern Long Island and she brought along her Boston Terrier, Popeye. Popeye was the runt of his litter, ran non-stop laps around the whole of the house, and refused to eat his dinner until Grandpa Giulio added the tiniest splash of Medaglia d’Oro® espresso to his food. It was very rare that Popeye was still.
Over 300 million scent receptors help our dogs detect changes in adrenaline and stress-related hormones like cortisol that trigger our “flight-or-fight” response.
As I lay there frightened and sweating, Popeye poked through my bedroom door and sat next to my bed. I reached my hand out from under the blanket and draped it over him. He was as still and quiet as I’d ever seen him. I sensed his warm body, heard his little snorts, and felt his round belly move up and down with each breath. He licked my hand. I relaxed. I stopped crying and I peeked out. He looked up at me with his buggy eyes and I knew I was safe.
University of Missouri-Columbia research has found that simply petting your dog releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin: our “feel good” hormones. Snuggling with your dog also decreases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
And that’s why I created Hounds and Hearth. I believe that in this crazy world we can both live loudly and rest beautifully, so I help everyday warriors make the most of calming canine magic by creating hound-inspired havens in their homes…. Because let’s face it: anxiety sucks and dogs don’t.