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Woman kissing dog

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.

Do you need your own space to relax? Join our FREE course to quickly and easily carve out your space in your home.

  • Lisa Struth

    May 6, 2020at11:43 am Reply

    Thank you for this. It’s days like this that I really miss Gizmo. He was my anxiety silencer. But Rosie kitty is a strong second and plasters herself to my chest.i can literally feel my heart stop racing.

    • Carina

      May 9, 2020at5:23 pm Reply

      Gizmo was so special and I’m glad you have an attentive kitty!

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