Don’t we all love dogs that like to snuggle? There’s nothing better on a cold night than settling into a deep couch by the fire with your canine cuddle buddy. You may assume that snuggling comes easily, but every snuggly dog has its own opinion as to the best conditions for the ultimate snuggle. At bedtime, some dogs like to share the pillow, and others prefer the end of the bed, head on their human’s feet. Still others duck under the covers where it’s nice and warm—seeking space in the kind of oven effect found there. And then there are the unusually particular types. These dogs have specific criteria that need to be met in order to be satisfied with the snuggle conditions.
Meet Wallace, the black and white Havanese. A better example of the particular type of snuggle seeker cannot be found. Wallace (Walle for short) shares his home with Natalie and Ben. He was picked carefully for his breed, which is known for its shed-free coat and is also well suited as a support animal. In this case, to ease anxiety. These are the reasons, on paper, why he was picked. In reality, he was chosen for his melt-her-heart adorable face and jaunty pom-pom tail. After the meticulous research and weighing of pros and cons, it was his adorableness that tipped the scales.
Walle took to his humans right away, becoming instantly attached to both Natalie and Ben. Walle started his life as an apartment dog. He had a terrace on which to look out at the birds and people walking below, but doing his business required a walk down the hallway and an elevator ride, so his ability to ‘wait’ was remarkable. Recently, the trio moved into a house with a large backyard. It took Walle a while to understand that he didn’t need to be on a leash, accompanied by a human to ‘go.’ Now he enjoys making the rounds along the fenceline, visiting with the neighbor dogs through the wooden slats, and ‘going’ wherever and whenever he wants. He has also been spied dashing across the length of lawn or lying in the sun, wagging his pom-pom tail like a cheering move.
Walle’s new environment has also revealed other unexpected changes in behavior. Being a small dog, he has always been snuggly, but lately his snuggle requirements have become more specific—extremely specific, in fact. Lately, Walle will only be satisfied if he can tuck himself into a human crevasse. That is, the small, tight spaces made when his humans curl their bodies or bend their arms in just such a way to make a small crevasse for him to tuck into. The smaller, the better. In Walle’s mind, only a few select positions offer optimum crevasse-like hollows for him to squeeze into. If Walle finds his humans stretched out flat on their backs, eliminating any chance of finding a proper crevasse, he has no compunction about telling them all about it. First, he whines, which can go on for several minutes. Then, if they do not comply, he steps up his game with a loud “Woof! Woof! WOOF!” You can imagine it took a minute to figure out the problem.
Eventually, Natalie and Ben figured it out. Several minutes of whining, followed by “Woof! Woof! WOOF!” means “You are not doing it right. Bend properly so we can snuggle!” or (assuming Walle is a gentleman in his choice of words) something similar. Of course, both Natalie and Ben comply. Who wouldn’t? After some experimentation and trial and error, it turns out Walle prefers the crevasses that come from the folding of Natalie’s lean limbs. But, just to be sure, he often has to try out what each has to offer before settling in. He will tuck himself into Natalie’s arms, curl up like he’s going to take a nap and then suddenly spring up, run over to Ben, and hop over his leg into the hollows his arms offer. That’s all well and good when everyone is awake and finding Walle’s antics amusing as they good-naturedly compete for who is most snuggly. It’s another thing entirely in the middle of the night. With this new behavior, it is not unusual for either Natalie or Ben to be awakened by Walle’s insistent whining, then barking and when that doesn’t work, scratching at one of their backs. Their groggy minds think what could he want in the middle of the night? as they try to ignore it. As his antics continue, they remember, thinking, Oh, that’s right. He needs a crevasse. And so, whoever is being scratched bends accordingly and Walle gets his snuggle on. This begs the question, “Who is training whom?” and we all know the answer. It also proves that, for some dogs and their humans, the snuggle struggle is real. In the middle of the night, very real.