Last week I was whining to friends that dealing with “people triggers” is such a challenge compared to dealing with “dog triggers”. There are fewer unfamiliar dogs on the street than unfamiliar human beings. Humans are everywhere. We have a comfortable routine of moving away from unfamiliar dogs (after Boogie offers a calming signal or a head turn towards me), but this isn’t so easy to do with people that I see on the street that I want to stop and talk to…
If it is a person that Boogie knows, his ears go back, he jumps up, offers kisses, gets pets, moves away.
If it is a person that Boogie doesn’t know, he stops moving. Goes really still by my side, and stares. This nervousness is often complicated further by what the person does next, which is to stare back at him (“Hi Boogie!”) or reach out their hand or take a step forward to pet him before I say “NO, he is nervous and might bite you”. Not all human beings listen and understand. Perhaps we need a Space Etiquette type poster for human beings, too.
We had such a good walk this morning, that I have to share!
When Boogie and I stepped out the door this morning, one of the building managers – John – was standing outside on the sidewalk, with a cup of coffee and slice of bacon in his hand. It’s not everyday that the first person you run into has bacon, right? :)
This time, when Boogie saw the unfamiliar human being in his territory, he stiffened, then turned back to look at me, it was more of a “That dude has bacon, I want to move forward” vs. the usual “OK, lead me away back towards the apartment and give me my treat”. I gave Boogie a treat anyway, for turning back to check with me.
John asked me if it was OK to give Boogie some bacon. We moved forward, Boogie got a piece of bacon and then he politely plonked his toosh down on the pavement in front of John. No seconds, but hey, what a good start to the morning walk.
Later on the street, Boogie stiffened slightly when a guy in uniform came walking towards us. “What a good-looking dog! He doesn’t like guys in uniform?”
Me: “Not really. He usually barks at guys in uniform”. Mr. Uniform did not come forward. He stood where he was and next to me, Boogie sat down. Mr. Uniform chatted away throwing more compliments at Boogie then said “OK, OK, I am leaving now. Go with your mom”. I thanked him and said goodbye, and Boogie and I moved on home.
It is so nice to meet strangers who want to meet your dog but who are truly dog-friendly and polite!
On a separate note, I have a silly burning question. Click on this picture below and tell me what you think! :)