HGTV Stars and 'The Power of the Puppy'
Erin and Ben Napier, Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson are some of the latest HGTV celebs to add some puppy love into their lives. In related news, March 23 is National Puppy Day. (Then again, what day isn't?) Celebrate accordingly.
In the sage and undeniably true words of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, Happiness Is a Warm Puppy. Actually, that's the title of one of his most beloved books but, beyond that, it's just a statement of fact. Admit it. We all know it. Even those "cat people" secretly know it. Among most members of the human species, there's a widely held consensus that puppies are simply irresistible and empirically adorable. They're warm and playful, comical and mischievous. And there's something that's just so pure and earnest looking back at you when you gaze into the eyes of a loving canine. It truly is something akin to magic.
Here to offer credence to something we're calling the "power of the puppy" (not to be confused with Hollywood's revisionist western of similar title) — and the notion of puppies as purveyors-of-bliss — are members of the HGTV family who have recently introduced some new paws and fur into their lives.
Case in point: Erin and Ben Napier of HGTV's Home Town. In the months following the loss of Baker, their Great Pyrenees and beloved canine companion of 12 years, the Napier family, including 4-year-old Helen, were having difficulty adjusting to life in the absence of their long-time friend. "Everything was good with Baker," said Helen tearfully, captured in a video that (you have hereby been warned) may just melt your heart. "Now I don't have Baker, and now I'm just lonely without a friend at my house ... I just want an animal friend." Among those responding to Erin's post was Ree Drummond, friend and Food Network's Pioneer Woman. "I am in TEARS," she posted alongside weeping emojis, echoing Helen's plea — "'I just want an animal friend!'"
But take heart. There's a happy ending – or, perhaps more accurately, a happy sequel. Ben and Erin eventually took the plunge and invited the new Baker into their family. Erin announced it to the world on Instagram and included a photo of Ben lovingly cradling the newest (and fluffiest) Napier, letting the young pooch to take a gander out of the pickup-truck window. (Because, you know, dogs love that.) And if ever there was a boopable nose, this is it. Just take a look ...
All indications are that the new family addition is a big hit — particularly with Helen and her baby sister Mae. "Baker is Helen's best friend already," said Erin, "a comfort when she’s scared of the boogie monster. Mae just is loving puppy kisses on her toes, and squeals laughing every time." Keep following Erin's Insta and you just may see more Baker pics and updates in the future.
Next on the list of new dog parents, the dynamic duo of Egypt Sherrod and husband Mike Jackson, hosts of the HGTV's Married to Real Estate and participant/contestants in HGTV's third season of Rock the Block. The newest addition in their household is one Serene Jackson, a bouncing Labradoodle and, according to Egypt, "the cutest dog ever." We won't weigh in on the "ever" part — since "cute" sometimes lies in the eye of the holder — but cuteness is most definitely in evidence.
Here's the backstory. Mike didn't grow up with dogs. So welcoming this particular new addition to the Jackson family took some convincing — particularly after his earlier and rough introduction to a certain toy poodle. "When we first got together my cinnamon toy poodle pooped in [Mike's] boot. After that Mike said, 'No dogs!'" says Egypt. "Recently our daughters started asking for a dog, and he wasn't crazy about the idea. But he's outnumbered."
Mike eventually relented and the couple opted to adopt a boy dog. That way Mike would have at least one other male companion on the home front. "Mike is surrounded by women, so we agreed to get a boy dog," says Egypt. "Now Mike has a little bit more male energy in the house."
So the Jackson Five, as the family sometimes refers to themselves, are now six, and the couple's three daughters Simone, Kendall and Harper all seem pleased. The seven-year-old Kendall was especially vocal about wanting a canine family member. "Kendall got her wish," announced Egypt in her Insta post. Other members of the HGTV family were quick to chime in on Insta offering their congratulations — including Rock the Block compatriot Ty Pennington and Dave and Jenny Mars of Fixer to Fabulous.
So there you have the latest additions — of the four-paw variety — to the HGTV family, and they appear to be bringing with them a whole lot of joy and blissful vibes.
The Science Behind Puppy Love
Still dubious about the power of the pup? For you skeptics out there, consider this. Why exactly is it that people love dogs so much? (And, for that matter, vice versa?) It turns out that there's a scientific basis for it.
According to a study published in the respected journal Science, when dogs and humans look into each other's eyes, that simple act elevates activation of the "feel-good hormone" oxytocin — in both species. In fact, it's thought to essentially be the same chemical mechanism that heightens the bond between new parents and their infant offspring. On a psychological level, oxytocin is believed to play a role in maternal bonding as well as in the phenomena of altruism and trust.
What's more, in terms of humans and their canine friends, this inter-species connection appears to take the form of a mutual feedback loop that seems relevant to dogs in particular. With wolves, for example — dogs' closest evolutionary relatives — gazing into their eyes is generally interpreted by the wolf as hostile or a threat. With domesticated dogs, on the other hand, the dynamic is something decidedly different. It's theorized that the manifestation of this ostensibly empathic connection between people and dogs may be part of what led to dogs' evolution as loyal and devoted companion to humans.
At least that's the scientific take on it. Of course, there's also the other theory — that dogs (or at least some of them) are secretly angels. Think about it.
Finally, we leave you with this gallery of 15 inordinately cute pups. Just because.