Kiss Me, Canine

Go ahead, it won’t hurt you and it's fun
By Lisa Wogan, February 2009

I let my dog Lulu lick my face. It makes some of my friends a little queasy, which, honestly, is part of the pleasure. And now, thanks to some out-of-the-box research, I can say it’s not the risky behavior my more persnickety acquaintances think.

A recent study by Dr. Kate Stenske, a clinical assistant professor at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, found that dog owners who sleep with their pets, share food, or allow face licking are no more likely to share strains of E. coli bacteria with their companions than folks who avoid these habits. (Although, there is some evidence that dogs might pick up antibiotic-resistant germs from us, especially if we fail to wash our hands during food preparation.)

So this Valentine’s Day, go forth and fearlessly smooch your pooch. If you’re anywhere near Portland, Maine, you might be rewarded for your interspecies public display of affection. Planet Dog is sponsoring its 5th Annual Valentine’s Day Canine Cocktail Party and Dog Kissing Contest (Thursday, Feb. 12, 6-7:30 p.m. at the Planet Dog Store, 211 Marginal Way, Portland, Maine). The “longest, sloppiest kiss” wins $75 worth of socially responsible dog goodies. The party is free, but a $5 contest fee goes to the Planet Dog Foundation, which donated more than $100,000 to canine service programs around the country—such as Dogs for Diabetics in Concord, Calif., and Texas Hearing and Service Dogs in Austin, Tex.—in 2008 alone.

If you're stuck without a furry buddy this year, feel the full-contact love with this scene from a 2007 dog-kissing contest I'm not sure where: