Greetings, Friends

Do you have reason to feel self-conscious or embarrassed about your dog's behavior?


Today, collaboration is frequently enabled by so much technology that it’s possible to work with someone for more than a decade without ever meeting them face-to-face. That’s the case with me and Lisa Rodier, a Rhode Island author/trainer who has written dozens of articles for WDJ over the past 10 years: We’ve never met in person. Last weekend, we were within 80 miles of each other, as she had flown to northern California to attend a K9 Nosework event. Lisa had a few hours free on the day she landed, so we planned to meet.

Like most of my WDJ collaborators, Lisa and I have shared a lot of personal information with each other about our canine family members. I sympathized with her over the decline and eventual loss of Axel and Jolie, her beloved senior Bouvier des Flandres, and celebrated the eventual acquisition of her next Bouv, Atle. She’s enjoyed speculating about the genetic origins of my 10-year-old mixed-breed Otto (seen above) ever since I adopted him from my local shelter; when she wrote an article for WDJ about canine DNA tests, we had Otto’s DNA tested, and she discussed the results in the article.

I would have liked to bring Otto with me to meet Lisa, too, but Otto has never been a great traveler, and in his senor years, he has gotten increasingly anxious in cars. So, instead, I brought my two-year-old presumed pit/Lab-mix, Woody.

When we are out in public, I am pretty confident in Woody’s ability to pass as a well-trained, well-behaved dog. But when I was driving with him toward meeting a dog trainer whom I respect but have never met, I found myself feeling anxious. I should probably warn her about Woody’s predilection for walking through people’s legs, I thought; it’s a tad alarming when he dives between someone’s thighs, even though he’s always wagging his whole body when he does this. Short people and kids sometimes get lifted off the ground for a moment; it’s his special way of saying hi! And it’s far better than his second-favorite way of greeting his friends, with a sudden hop up to flick their face with his tongue (but every so often accidentally giving someone a fat lip with that big skull of his). Woody won’t do these things when he’s on leash, but when socializing off-leash, he’s exuberant and effusive in his affection for our friends, whether or not he’s met them before.

Thank goodness, Woody didn’t bruise Lisa during the few hours that we spent together, though she did get licked a few more times than she probably planned on. And I’m pretty sure she was only pretending to be horrified when he helped himself to a drink of water out of my glass at the outdoor cafe where we had a late lunch.

Well, I’m attending a wedding in Rhode Island in the fall. We’ll see how young Axel compares in the good-manners department.