Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Happiness is a warm puppy

Jan 14, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Charles M. Schultz, the genius creator of the Peanuts comic strip and its many ancillary products, wrote a book in 1962 entitled Happiness is a Warm Puppy. The thin little hardback became a best-seller—and, in fact, still is. Perhaps because the title is such a truism. The state of happiness referred to comes from the physical and emotional well-being a close encounter of the puppy kind can bring.

Let’s just contemplate the physically warm part of the statement. A lap full of puppy can be as effective as an electric heating pad. No doubt, during the last few bitterly cold weeks in our area, dog owners have had a distinct advantage. Dogs pump out a wonderful amount of heat. Just consider the name of the rock band Three Dog Night (“Joy to the World,” “Mama Told Me Not to Come”). The name of the band comes from the practice of the aboriginal people of Australia who, on cold nights, would sleep with a dingo in a hole they had dug in the ground. If it was a really cold night, they would curl up with more than one of the wild dogs. A three-dog night was chilly indeed. (Even in the wild, dogs serve mankind.)

The emotional warmth generated by petting and communing with a dog is well documented and based on real science. Studies have confirmed that playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.

The American Heart Association wholeheartedly (couldn’t resist) endorses dog ownership to lower your risk of heart disease. (Dogs edge out cats in this case because dog owners are likely to be more active. When was the last time you walked your cat?)

Business has probably slowed at our local animal rescue centers now that the holidays have passed. It might be the perfect time to “warm up” to the idea of a new pet in your home.

--Sarah Hagerty
Click here to sign up to our new Health Beat E-Newsletter