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Stuffed Animals Are Not Just Child's Play

August 01, 1993

I was most interested in Michael Haederle's article, "The Caress We Love Best" (June 30), particularly in the reaction and response of nursing home patients as they held, hugged, cuddled and talked to the visiting dogs and cats.

When an accident kept me housebound for several months, a beautiful stuffed animal arrived. I soon became aware that holding it close, feeling its warmth, stroking and talking to it, my depression was lessening. I was sleeping better and my appetite was increasing. How could an inanimate animal have a healing effect?

Anthropologist Ashley Montagu states, "While there may be a decrease or lessening of our other senses, the sense of touch doesn't seem to change as we age and, if anything, the need for touching seems to increase."

In a city many live alone in "no pets" buildings or can no longer care for a live pet, a stuffed animal can offer company and comfort. Once we realize that our need for touching is lifelong, we can hold, stroke and cuddle a stuffed animal without guilt, self-consciousness or feeling that to do so is childish.

RUTH SUKLOFF

Los Angeles

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